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First fine levied in Canada for approaching whale

In this July 2018 image, a Humpback whale breaches just before fishing guide Scott Babcock illegally interacted with the marine mammal in the Work Channel about 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Prince Rupert, British Columbia (AFP Photo/HO)

Ottawa (AFP) - A fishing guide has become the first person in Canada to be convicted of getting too close to a whale under new marine mammal regulations, the government announced.

According to a summary of the court decision obtained Thursday, Scott Babcock was ordered to pay a Can$2,000 (US$1,500) fine and spend two days "educating the public on boater safety around whales."

He was convicted of disturbing a Humpback whale by coming within 100 meters of it in a boat as it leapt out of waters off Canada's Pacific coast, a photo of which was entered as evidence in the case.

The incident occurred in the Work Channel about 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Prince Rupert, British Columbia, just eight days after the new safeguards took effect in July 2018.

Ottawa had strengthened whale protections requiring boaters to stay at least 100 metres (330 feet) from most whales, dolphins and porpoises.

Other banned disturbances include feeding or swimming with whales.

The North Pacific Humpback whale has been listed as a threatened species since 2005 and was upgraded to "special concern" status in 2011.