Federal review flags concerns in efforts to protect right whales in Canada

In this Feb. 14, 2017 photo provided by the Center for Coastal Studies, a pair of right whales feed just below the surface of Cape Cod Bay off shore from Provincetown, Mass. (Center for Coastal Studies via AP via CTV Atlantic)

A new federal scientific review shows measures taken to protect North Atlantic right whales from being struck by ships and getting caught in fishing gear may not be doing enough to keep whales from being hurt or killed off Atlantic Canada.

The study says speed restrictions and fishing-zone closures in the Gulf of St. Lawrence have helped to lower risks of injury and death to right whales, but dangers remain, especially in the waters just outside protected zones.

The review found boats have been speeding up just before they reach speed-restricted areas, likely in anticipation of having to slow down.

Being hit by a faster-moving vessel vastly increases a whale's likelihood of dying.

The review also found fishing restrictions in areas where whales have been most prevalent do reduce entanglements, but whales continue to become entangled in floating gear.

Six right whales of the 400 believed to be left on earth have died in Atlantic Canadian waters in the last month and one was spotted alive but entangled in fishing gear last week.