Campaign to reduce plastic pollution and prevent Right Whale entanglement

The Canadian Wildlife Federation (CWF) launches new campaigns to reduce plastic pollution and prevent right whale entanglement during Rivers to Oceans Week June 8-14.

“The survival of critically endangered species like the Right Whale depend on our immediate responses,” said Rick Bates, CEO of CWF. “We don’t have time to wait.”

CWF is promoting four key actions and multiple opportunities to participate.

  • Reducing plastic pollution
  • Supporting the efforts of the Canadian Marine Animal Response Alliance
  • Restricting fishing in habitat of the critically endangered right whale
  • Connecting to nature

Addressing the Plastic Problem:

If current trends continue, there may be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050.

Bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, bedrooms and garages are key sources of plastics pollution. CWF has developed an online home assessment survey to help Canadians determine their biggest plastic problem areas and identify strategies for improvement. CWF is also preparing a petition urging the government to support sustainable packaging efforts.

“Plastic pollution in Canadian waters entangles marine wildlife causing harm or death and ends up in the stomachs of many of our large marine wildlife species,” Bates said. “We need the Federal Government to continue to show leadership on reducing Canada’s plastic footprint by drastically reducing our reliance on single-use packaging.”

Supporting the Canadian Marine Animal Response Alliance (CMARA):

There are more than 800 marine animal incidents reported in Canada each year including entangled, beached or entrapped animals.

CWF helped establish the Canadian Marine Animal Response Alliance (CMARA) to co-ordinate the efforts of regional networks that respond to marine animal emergencies. You can help these networks by reporting sightings of marine animals dead or in distress. You can also join CWF in encouraging government funding for the important work of these highly trained response specialists. There are more than 33 species of whale, 11 species of seals and sea lions, and four species of turtles found in Canada’s oceans. Many of these species are at risk.

Reducing Entanglement Risks:

New research conducted by CWF has shown that the survival of federally protected North Atlantic Right Whale requires an immediate reduction in the risk of entanglement in commercial fishing gear. In Atlantic Canada, almost all the risk occurs during July, August and September (12 per cent, 50 per cent and 37 per cent respectively). The groundfish fishery contributes the greatest proportion (86 per cent) of annual risk. The North Atlantic Right Whale is one of the most endangered whales in the world, with a population of around 500 individuals.

CWF calls for restricting fishing in the Grand Manan Basin and the Roseway Basin during these peak months. A third of the Right Whale entanglement risk is associated with these two areas off the coasts of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, though fishery catch estimates in the basins are relatively small and declining.

“This strategy could prevent the death of one or two right whales every year, which is enough to make the difference between the long term recovery and extinction of the species,” said Bates. “The opportunity to reduce risk would be substantial and the disruption to fisheries would be minimal.”

Connecting to Nature:

  • Join the Quest to find Canada’s Great Whales at Learn more about the whales of Atlantic Canada and find out where the animals are swimming in near real time. This project follows the Whales, Habitat and Listening Experiment (WHaLE) Project which uses state of the art underwater drones to track the locations of whales in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean and help prevent ship strikes.
  • Visit to learn take the home assessment survey and find out more about plastic pollution and marine and freshwater conservation projects.
  • Stay tuned for the release of a new Hinterland Who’s Who video about North Atlantic Right Whales. Learn more at
  • Get involved in the Bioblitz Canada 150 project and post your pictures of wildlife to This will help create a national biodiversity database as part of the BioBlitz Canada 150 signature program, a Canada 150 Signature Project co-ordinated by CWF with its partners in conservation.

CWF encourages a future in which Canadians can live in harmony with nature. For more information visit

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