North Atlantic Right Whale Population Continues To Grow

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Tracking of highly endangered species reveals highest population since tracking began in 1980

SAINT JOHN, NB — Irving Oil is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the re-routing of the shipping lanes in the Bay of Fundy. This precedent-setting initiative, along with other conservation measures, is credited with helping the subsequent growth occurring within the right whale population. Over the past decade, the North Atlantic right whale population has grown by an average of two percent annually, to more than 500 whales.

The re-routing of shipping lanes was achieved through collaboration of industry, led by Irving Oil, scientists from the New England Aquarium,  academics at Dalhousie University, the Canadian government, professional mariners, and environmental groups.

The shipping lane change moved ships away from a significant feeding ground and nursery habitat area, reducing the risk of vessel collisions with the rare whale species in the vessel traffic lanes by 90 per cent.

“A highlight of my career has been working with Irving Oil to protect the North Atlantic right whale, and we’re now seeing the benefits of our partnership; it’s making a difference,” says Moira Brown, Lead Researcher of the Right Whale Program at the New England Aquarium. “This endangered species continues to grow and recover.”

Since Irving Oil began its partnership with the New England Aquarium over 15 years ago, 297 calves have been born - a significant and promising development for this endangered species.  

"We are deeply committed to the environment and to the communities we work in,” says Paul Browning, President and CEO of Irving Oil.  “We believe that through cooperation between industry, government, academia and community leaders, we can simultaneously support the local economy, protect our environment, and drive employment.  Our long-term commitment to the Right Whale and to the New England Aquarium is one we cherish deeply, and is something our employees are proud of.  We’re delighted by the results of this partnership, and it represents how Irving Oil strives to perform in everything we do." 

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 identified right whale critical habitat areas in the Bay of Fundy and south of Nova Scotia, and retrofitted its ships to be double-hulled, as a further precaution against spills.

About Irving Oil

Irving Oil is a privately owned regional energy and marketing company that provides Eastern Canada and New England with high-quality products and customer service. Founded in 1924 and based in Saint John, New Brunswick, Irving Oil maintains a strong tradition of committed community service and partnerships through programs in healthcare, the environment, education and sports. For more information about Irving Oil and its community programs, please visit us at or follow us at

For more information or interviews, please contact:

Sam Robinson
Irving Oil
(506) 650.4947
[email protected]