The cruises change course in the face of the right whales

Les croisières changent de cap face aux baleines noires

Photo: Alexander Shields The Duty
Nine cruise ships have renounced to make a stopover at Gaspé, depriving the region of an influx of 10,000 tourists.

The speed limit imposed this year to ships in the gulf of St. Lawrence to protect right whales has impacts that are very real for the cruise industry. Already close to twenty stops have been cancelled in eastern Quebec, which represents a loss of more than 16,000 cruise passengers. A hard blow to regions that rely on the tourist industry to diversify their economy.

According to the data passed to the Duty by the association of Cruise the Saint Lawrence, several stopovers of international cruises, which were on the program for this year have been cancelled since the introduction of a speed limit of 10 knots (18 km/h) for vessels over 10 metres in a vast portion of the gulf, at the end of the month of April.

The city of Sept-Îles has been proportionally the most affected in the east of the province, as seven of the eleven stops in 2018 have been cancelled. In the Gaspé, a destination that is at the heart of the area speed limit, a total of nine stops have been removed from the list, which represents more than 10,000 cruise passengers in less. About Baie-Comeau, only two stops have been cancelled, out of a total of twenty-three provided.

We thought that with the new measures, the companies would choose not to cancel. Truthfully, we’re disappointed.

— René Trépanier

In total, for these three towns only, are so ten-eight stops, which will not take place, for a total of 24 348 visitors in the least, if one takes into account cruise passengers and crew members. Of this number, 15 952 cruise lines will not be visiting these regions.

“It hurts,” says the director general of the association of Cruise the Saint Lawrence, René Trépanier. “And it is possible that there are other cancellations “, he adds. “When, in a region such as the Seven Islands, it is expected a season of stops and you lose seven out of eleven, and it is difficult. We also speak of loss of income important for small businesses who manage the welcome of the cruise. So financially, it is still a hard blow. “

“At Gaspé, it also begins to weigh heavy. Last year, there had already been several cancellations. This year, it adds at least nine cancellations, so it hits them directly, ” insists Mr. Trépanier.

The mayor of Gaspé, Daniel Côté, also stresses that the losses are considerable for the municipality, but also for the region. According to him, the direct losses for 2017 and 2018 are expected to exceed three million dollars. “The cruises generate significant results, firstly in terms of direct impacts. But it should not be forgotten that a cruise line that comes for the first time in Gaspé, it is to speak of the region, or they may return afterwards by other means. Hence, there are potential losses even more important, but are difficult to quantify. “

What’s more, the majority of stops are held in September and October, when the summer tourist season is over. “It is thanks to the cruise industry that one manages to extend the tourist season, restaurant owners, bus companies or guides. Everyone finds his account, ” explains Mr. Côté.

Mr. Trépanier deplores all the more the numerous cancellations of this year that the rules put in place for 2018 include corridors, where ships can move at their normal speed, unless the presence of right whales is confirmed. “We are not surprised that there are some impacts, but we thought that with the new measures, the companies would choose not to cancel. Truthfully, we’re disappointed. “


Daniel Côté believes that ‘ the development is weakened, because some circuits are set to snub the St. Lawrence, or some of the stopovers. It is even mentioned openly the need to compensate for the losses. “I expect the federal government to loosen the purse strings to help the communities,” let there be fall.

Les croisières changent de cap face aux baleines noires

Photo: Transport Canada
The areas of speed limit in the gulf of St. Lawrence

René Trépanier believes that affected municipalities will need ” a listening and support of the State “. And to reassure the industry and minimize the impacts on navigation in the future, both of which emphasize the need for better understanding of the movements of right whales in the gulf of St. Lawrence.

Same sound of bell on the side of the Owners of the Saint-Laurent. The director-general, Martin Fournier, greet course of action “much more flexible and adapted to the maritime transport” this year, compared with 2017. But it would according to him would move toward speed limits that adapt, ” real-time “, to the presence or absence of right whales. This type of measure is already in force, off Boston, on the american east coast.

For the time being, Transport Canada notes, however, that the vessels comply with the speed limit of 10 knots. According to the official data, 186 boats have exceeded this limit since the end of the month of April, a total of 2084 ships. Only three have received a fine, including a boat cruise.

As for the right whales, they are present in the gulf of St. Lawrence. Fisheries and Oceans has already detected 146 since the beginning of the summer season. But none of them was found dead.