Collaborative Model Produces Solutions To Environmental Issues

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Over a decade of science and industry working together continues to help rare whale species recover

SAINT JOHN, NB — I This year marks the 10th anniversary of the International Maritime Organization’s adoption of re-routed shipping lanes in the Bay of Fundy, a precedent setting initiative achieved through the collaboration of industry, led by Irving Oil, scientists from the New England Aquarium, government, academics and environmental groups for the protection of one of the world’s most endangered whale species, the North Atlantic right whale.

This collaborative model between science and industry proactively approached regulators to re-route the shipping lanes away from the right whales’ feeding grounds and habitat, reducing the risk of vessel collisions with the rare whale species by 90 percent. This marked the first time shipping lanes had been re-routed for the protection of an endangered species, anywhere in the world.

Though there have never been any known vessel –whale collisions involving Irving Oil ships, the company recognized the need to proactively get involved in finding a solution to conserve the right whale for future generations. Through investigating preventative solutions, Irving Oil began collaborating with leading right whale researchers at the New England Aquarium, and this unique partnership has continued for over 15 years.

“Our world is changing so rapidly and as we foster this growth, at the same time we need to carefully balance the impact we have on our environment, particularly species which are endangered,” said John Logan, Manager of Project Management and Controls, Irving Oil. “That’s why a model such as this, where all parties are at the table working toward sustainable solutions, works so well. Fifteen years ago, I was asked by our company’s leadership to become proactively involved in finding ways to protect the North Atlantic right whale. Our partnership with whale researchers may be unlikely, but it’s produced strong results for this endangered species.”

Today Irving Oil and the New England Aquarium work together on ongoing stewardship efforts, including education and research to track the right whales’ population recovery. Over the past decade, the North Atlantic right whale population has grown by an average of 2 percent annually to over 450 whales, as a result of the shipping lanes movement and other conservation measures.

Previous to the movement of the shipping lanes, vessel strikes were a leading cause of death for the North Atlantic right whale. However, since 2003, no known large vessel collisions with the whales have occurred in the Bay of Fundy. As part of the program, Irving Oil ordered its own chartered ships to operate at slower speeds in the newly designated right whale critical habitat areas, and retrofitted its ships to be double-hulled, as a further precaution against spills.

“The future of the North Atlantic right whale is dependent on the long-term relations we’re developing today between the scientists and industries like Irving Oil to promote recovery of the right whale,” said Dr. Moira Brown, Senior Scientist at the New England Aquarium's John H. Prescott Marine Laboratory. “It’s an important example of setting aside differences and focusing on where we can collectively have a positive impact. We believe that our collaborative model of science and industry working together over the long term can be applied to other conservation and environmental issues.”

“One lesson I’ve learned,” Logan added, “is never underestimate the power of unlikely partnerships. Irving Oil’s partnership with the New England Aquarium shows that it’s possible to find the kind of balance we need in society so we can continue to progress forward while we maintain and protect our environment.”

About Irving Oil

Irving Oil was founded in 1924 and is a privately owned regional refining and marketing company with a history of long-term partnerships and relationships. Irving Oil operates Canada’s largest refinery, in Saint John, NB, which is located 65 miles north of the US border and has reached production rates in excess of 300,000 barrels per day. The refinery exports over 80 per cent of its production to the US and accounts for 75 per cent of Canada’s gasoline exports to the US and 19 per cent of all US gasoline imports. In 2003, Irving Oil became the first oil company to receive a US Environmental Protection Agency Clean Air Excellence Award, for its clean gasoline. For more information about Irving Oil, visit

For more information or interviews, please contact:

Lesley Dickson
Irving Oil
(506) 202-3924
[email protected]