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Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Canada commits to new protections for Southern Resident killer whales

Sanctuary zones, fishing bans, and speed reductions all part of Monday's announcement.

Robyn Bell
June 3, 2024
Ocean
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Canada commits to new protections for Southern Resident killer whales

Sanctuary zones, fishing bans, and speed reductions all part of Monday's announcement.

Robyn Bell
Jun 3, 2024
Photo: Center for Whale Research / Facebook
Photo: Center for Whale Research / Facebook
Ocean
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Canada commits to new protections for Southern Resident killer whales

Sanctuary zones, fishing bans, and speed reductions all part of Monday's announcement.

Robyn Bell
June 3, 2024
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Canada commits to new protections for Southern Resident killer whales
Photo: Center for Whale Research / Facebook

As of this weekend, Southern Resident killer whales (SRKW) that swim in Island waters do so under new federal government protection.

The measures came into effect Sat., along with $3.5M in funding for protection initiatives.

In April, scientists sounded alarm bells about the long-term health of SRKW, with a study showing the population of 74 whales is on  a fast track to extinction.

The study highlighted the need for more conservation measures, including slower boat speeds to reduce noise and allow SRKW to hunt more efficiently, preserving SRKW’s key food source, Chinook salmon, and addressing the high amount of contaminants in the water.

The new measures announced will address these concerns in 2024 and 2025: 

  • Two mandatory speed-restricted zones near Swiftsure Bank and two interim sanctuary zones off Pender and Saturna islands, effective until Nov. 30.
  • A voluntary speed reduction zone in Tumbo Channel, off the North side of Saturna Island.
  • A measure that prevents vessels from coming within 400 metres of all killer whales in BC will be extended until next May. Vessels also will be banned from impeding the path of killer whales in waters between Campbell River and Ucluelet.
  • Whale watching and ecotourism companies have agreed to abstain from offering or promoting tours viewing Southern Resident killer whales.
  • Commercial and recreational salmon fisheries will close in key Southern Resident killer whale foraging areas for the rest of 2024 and 2025.
  • Canada will look to reduce contaminants that affect the whales and their prey.

In addition to these measures, the five-year Conservation Agreement between the federal government and the marine transportation industry has been renewed.

Transport Canada will commit more than $3M over two years to the Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) Program, led by the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority. ECHO mainly focuses on curbing the noise of ships moving through Vancouver waters, but does some additional work to prevent boat strikes and water contamination. 

Ocean Wise will receive $300K to support its Whale Report Alert System, which notifies commercial vessels when they may be near whales via an online app. 

Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is currently conducting research that may lead to amendments to the Marine Mammal Regulations. Have your say and take part in DFO’s survey, open until Sept. 3.

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Robyn Bell
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Canada commits to new protections for Southern Resident killer whales
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