A group representing Gulf of St. Lawrence lobster fishermen says frustration is mounting after the federal government rejected its proposal for a shallow-water exemption to fishery closures aimed at protecting endangered North Atlantic right whales.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) says it considered the proposal by the Maritime Fishermen's Union and the Pecheurs professionnels du Sud de la Gaspesie, but will not exempt waters of up to 10 fathoms — or 18 metres — in depth.
"We felt staying in that depth of water, which is where most of our fishermen are now at this time of year anyways, was a really good compromise," said Carl Allen, president of the Maritime Fishermen's Union.
Last week, DFO issued temporary closures to six more grid areas due to the presence of right whales. The move came after six areas were closed to several fisheries as of May 22.
A static closure zone is in place along New Brunswick's northern coast until June 30, while DFO has been enforcing what are called dynamic management closures that shut down fishing activities for 15 days once a right whale sighting is confirmed.