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Recovery Strategy for the North Atlantic Right Whale (Eubalaena glacialis) in Atlantic Canadian Waters.


The North Atlantic right whale is a marine mammal and is under the responsibility of the federal government.  The Species at Risk Act (SARA, Section 37) requires the competent minister to prepare recovery strategies for listed extirpated, endangered and threatened species. The was listed as Endangered under SARA in January 2005.  The development of this recovery strategy was led by Fisheries and Oceans Canada – Maritimes Region, in cooperation and consultation with many individuals and organizations, as indicated below. The strategy meets SARA requirements in terms of content and process (Sections 39-41).

Success in the recovery of this species depends on the commitment and cooperation of many different constituencies that will be involved in implementing the directions set out in this strategy and will not be achieved by Fisheries and Oceans Canada or any other party alone. This strategy provides advice to jurisdictions and organizations that may be involved or wish to become involved in the recovery of the species. In the spirit of the National Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans invites all responsible jurisdictions and Canadians to join Fisheries and Oceans Canada in supporting and implementing this strategy for the benefit of the North Atlantic right whale and Canadian society as a whole. Fisheries and Oceans Canada will support implementation of this strategy to the extent possible, given available resources and its overall responsibility for species at risk conservation.

The goals, objectives and recovery approaches identified in the strategy are based on the best existing knowledge and are subject to modifications resulting from new information. The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans will report on progress within five years.

This strategy will be complemented by one or more action plans that will provide details on specific recovery measures to be taken to support conservation of the species. The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans will take steps to ensure that, to the extent possible, Canadians interested in or affected by these measures will be consulted.

Responsible Jurisdictions

Under the Species at Risk Act, Fisheries and Oceans Canada is the responsible jurisdiction for the North Atlantic right whale.


This document was written by Moira Brown, Derek Fenton, Kent Smedbol, Cathy Merriman, Kimberly Robichaud-LeBlanc and Jerry Conway in cooperation with the Right Whale Recovery Implementation Team (see Recovery Team Members list).


DFO acknowledges all participants of the Recovery Team for their dedicated efforts in providing information, expertise and perspectives in the development of this recovery strategy.  The National Recovery Plan prepared by the Right Whale Recovery Team for the World Wildlife Fund Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in 2000 (WWF/DFO 2000) provided the foundation for the development of this document.  DFO is grateful to the drafting team (see ‘Authors’) who further revised the document as per SARA Recovery Strategy content requirements and updated with new information since the publication of the 2000 Plan.  Additionally, DFO acknowledges the invaluable input provided by the broader interested public in the consultation process (see Appendix C for a record of consultations).

Strategic Environmental Assessment

A Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is conducted on all SARA recovery planning documents, in accordance with the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals. The purpose of a SEA is to incorporate environmental considerations into the development of public policies, plans, and program proposals to support environmentally sound decision making.

Recovery planning is intended to benefit species at risk and biodiversity in general. However, it is recognized that strategies may also inadvertently lead to environmental effects beyond the intended benefits. The recovery planning process based on national guidelines directly incorporates consideration of all environmental effects, with a particular focus on possible impacts on non-target species or habitats. The results of the SEA are incorporated directly in the strategy itself, but are also summarized below.

This recovery strategy will clearly benefit the environment by promoting the recovery of the North Atlantic right whale. The potential for the strategy to inadvertently lead to adverse effects on other species was considered; however, because the recovery objectives recommend additional research on the species and education and outreach initiatives, the SEA concluded that this strategy will clearly benefit the environment and will not entail any significant adverse effects.


SARA defines residence as: “a dwelling-place, such as a den, nest or other similar area or place, that is occupied or habitually occupied by one or more individuals during all or part of their life cycles, including breeding, rearing, staging, wintering, feeding or hibernating[SARA S2(1)].

Residence descriptions, or the rationale for why the residence concept does not apply to a given species, are posted on the SARA public registry: