Ottawa considers help for Gulf fisheries after right whale protection measures

Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc says Ottawa is looking to ease economic hardships caused by measures to protect endangered North Atlantic right whales.

However, LeBlanc says there are no current plans to compensate fishermen after the recent closures of several regional fisheries.

The minister says right whales are a new fact of life in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and permanent measures will be needed to avoid another year of 25-per-cent reductions in landings for some lobster and other fisheries.

New Brunswick Fisheries Minister Rick Doucet called Monday for measures to address lost revenue, and LeBlanc says that is "entirely consistent" with his department's approach.

He says that includes looking at ways to help processing plant workers whose hours may be affected to qualify for Employment Insurance, and a possible fall opening of the lobster fishery to help fishermen make up days lost to closures.

LeBlanc says developing new and safer fishing gear will also be key in protecting the whales, while alleviating future financial losses to the industry.