Feds implement new measures to help protect marine mammals in the Gulf of St. Lawrence

Ottawa is hoping new measures will protect marine mammals from getting hit by ships or tangled up in fishing gear in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The federal Fisheries Department announced yesterday that it is asking commercial fishermen to watch for whales and report any sightings.

Officials are also asking mariners to slow down along the Laurentian channel shipping lanes between the Magdalen Islands and the Gaspe peninsula until September 30th.

They have also imposed a partial closure within a nearby snow crab fishing area where whales are known to frequent.

The measures come after several endangered North Atlantic right whales have been found dead in the area.

Examinations of three of seven dead right whales showed two had injuries consistent with ship strikes, while one died after getting entangled in fishing gear.

On Monday, a fisherman was killed while trying to free a whale from fishing line off Shippigan, New Brunswick.

The death prompted an American agency to halt its efforts to free large whales trapped in fishing gear.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says it is going to review its emergency response protocols.