By Judith Lavoie, Victoria Times Colonist
VICTORIA — Environmental groups will be in court this week arguing the federal government is failing to adequately protect critical habitat for endangered and threatened pods of killer whales.
Ecojustice lawyer Margot Venton is asking the Federal Court of Canada for a judicial review, claiming the government is acting unlawfully by interpreting critical habitat only as physical space, instead of ensuring there is salmon for the whales to eat, the water is not overly polluted and whales are not subjected to excessive noise.
“The reason that this is critical habitat is that the areas are natural funnels for migrating salmon — that is why the whales are there,” said Venton, who is acting for the David Suzuki Foundation, Dogwood Initiative, Environmental Defence Canada, Greenpeace Canada, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Raincoast Conservation, Sierra Club of Canada and Western Canada Wilderness Committee.
Declines in chinook salmon runs, together with chemical pollution and noise in the ocean that makes it difficult for whales to echolocate prey, have been identified as affecting the survival of the endangered southern resident killer whales and the threatened northern resident pods.