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  Yahoo News 10 Oct 07
Canada creates safe haven for endangered whale

Canada Wednesday said a safe haven has been set aside in the Atlantic Ocean where the endangered North Atlantic right whale can feed and socialize without fear of colliding with large ships.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has designated the Roseway Basin, some 20 nautical miles (37 kilometers) south of Cape Sable Island, Nova Scotia, as an "Area to be Avoided" by commercial shipping, on a seasonal basis, the Ministry of Transport said in a statement.

On the endangered list since 1935, the right whale is on the verge of extinction, with scientific estimates putting its current total population at less than 400.

The Roseway Basin is one of only five key feeding and socializing habitats for this mostly black whale that can grow up to 18 meters (60 feet) long and weigh up to 100 tonnes, but it is located near a major shipping route.

"We are confident that the adoption of this proposal will have a significant positive impact on the right whales' road to recovery from the brink of extinction," Nova Scotia lawmaker Gerald Keddy said in the statement.

The Area to be Avoided (ATBA) designation is merely a recommendation for ships of more than 300 tonnes to steer clear of Roseway Basin from June 1 to December 31, when the right whale frequents the waters.

The IMO adopted Canada's ATBA initiative at a meeting in Copenhagen, the statement said.

"This science-based conservation initiative demonstrates that industry, biologists, and government can successfully collaborate to help in the recovery of an endangered species," said New England Acquarium researcher Moira Brown.

Related articles on dolphins, whales, other cetaceans and large fishes.
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