An analysis of Scotia-Fundy vessel users and what this means for the North Atlantic right whales
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The North Atlantic right whale is endangered under the Species at Risk Act thus, its protection is of the utmost importance. In Canada, there are two ship strike mitigation measures. A voluntary area to be avoided in Roseway Basin and shipping lane amendments in Grand Manan Basin have been implemented; both regions are prime right whale feeding areas. Despite the efforts, non-compliance occurs and right whales still fall victim to ship strikes. MEOPAR (Marine Environmental Observation Prediction and Response), is using passive acoustic monitoring to find whales in real time. The efforts of MEOPAR will lead to a whale alert system for the Scotia-Fundy region; in order to be successfully, the needs of the mariners must be evaluated. A representative sample of the fleet is required to survey them on their needs in the future thus, an analysis of the Scotia-Fundy users must be conducted. This study analyses all vessels using the Scotia-Fundy region. The primary analysis used vessels’ MMSI number as their identifier to calculate how many days each vessel was present in the Scotia-Fundy region for the year 2015. The top 20% most frequent vessels were extracted and underwent further analysis. From the analysis, various vessel characteristics were revealed such as average speed, vessel size and vessel type. The result of this study is a list of vessels most frequently present in the Scotia-Fundy region and an idea of how likely they are to impact right whales based on their physical characteristics. The list created is the first step to surveying a representative sample of the fleet thus, ensuring successful implementation of a whale alert system.