Raincoast files NEB evidence on wildlife impacts from proposed Trans Mountain project

Killer whales, salmon and forage fish are focus of Raincoast's review

On May 27, Raincoast filed 4 submissions to the National Energy Board (NEB) on our concerns for impacts from Kinder Morgan’s proposed Trans Mountain Expansion on salmon, killer whales and forage fish.  Raincoast is represented by Ecojustice in these NEB hearings.

A summary is available here Statement of Written Evidence of Raincoast Conservation Foundation.pdf 

Southern Resident Killer Whales: Population Viability Analysis

Three orcas swim from right to left.Southern resident killer whales are endangered under Canada’s Species at Risk Act. Trans Mountain’s tanker route transects critical habitat necessary for their survival and recovery. This submission describes a Population Viability Analysis (PVA) conducted by leading scientists studying killer whales, acoustics and endangered populations. A PVA can assess risks to wildlife populations and evaluate the likely effectiveness of recovery options. This PVA assessed the viability of the southern residents in light of their cumulative disturbances and threats, including increased ocean noise resulting from additional vessel traffic and oil spills. It also examined the role of Chinook salmon abundance and contaminants. The Southern Resident population has experienced almost no population growth over the past four decades, and has declined in the last two decades. Our analysis shows that the Trans Mountain Project will intensify existing threats, accelerating their rate of decline and possibly leading to complete extinction. Conversely, reducing existing vessel noise and increasing Chinook availability increases their likelihood of long term survival.

Download the pdf  RCF- SRKW PVA for NEB -May 2015

Southern Resident Killer Whales: Acoustic disturbance from vessel traffic

Three orcas swim from right to left.Southern resident killer whales are endangered under Canada’s Species at Risk Act. Trans Mountain’s tanker route transects critical habitat necessary for their survival and recovery. This submission describes the importance of sound to killer whales (as important as vision is to humans) and the concern for even more noise in their critical habitat. Southern resident killer whales produce and listen to sounds in order to establish and maintain critical life functions: to navigate, find and select mates, maintain their social network, and locate and capture prey (especially Chinook salmon). The existing level of noise has already degraded critical habitat and studies suggest it has reduced the feeding efficiency of these whales.  The Trans Mountain Project will increase noise levels with adverse affects to southern resident killer whales.

Download the pdf  RCF – SRKW acoustics-NEB

Wild Salmon of the Fraser River and Salish Sea:  The risk from oil spills

Underwater close up of a salmon headThe Fraser River and its estuary is one of the most productive salmon watersheds in the world and the most economically important in Canada. The proposed pipeline and tanker route traverse and transect vital salmon habitat. This submission  examines the potential consequences to Fraser River salmon populations from exposure to oil spilled from a pipeline rupture in the lower Fraser River or from an oil tanker spill in the waters of Georgia Strait. The Lower Fraser, its tributaries, and its estuary are used by 42 fish species throughout the year either for incubating eggs and embryos, as juveniles for rearing and overwintering, and as adults for migration and spawning. For salmon, the Lower Fraser River acts as a bottleneck through which the entire diversity of Fraser River salmon populations must pass twice during their lifetime. There is no safe time of the year when the impacts of a spill would be low. A spill during peak migration of unique Conservation Units or at risk species could be devastating to these populations.

Download the pdf  RCF – Salmon-NEB-May 2015

Forage fish of the Salish Sea: The risk from the oil spills and tankers

Pacific herring top bannerForage fishes are crucial components of coastal marine ecosystems. This submission examines the potential impacts from Trans Mountain oil tankers and spills on Pacific herring and other forage fishes. Situated in the mid-trophic levels, they represent a vital link between the bottom and the top of the marine foodweb and support a diversity of predators, including humpback whales, Chinook salmon and seabirds. As such impacts to forage fishes have the potential to cause cascading consequences to the broader ecosystem, including species at risk. Trans Mountain’s review of forage fish suffered from information and methodological deficiencies, failed to assess all avenues for potential harm, and failed to identify the potential for project-related impacts on forage fish to result in negative consequences to the surrounding ecosystems.

Download the pdf  RCF-Herring-NEB-May 2015

You can help

Raincoast’s in-house scientists, collaborating graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and professors make us unique among conservation groups. We work with First Nations, academic institutions, government, and other NGOs to build support and inform decisions that protect aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, and the wildlife that depend on them. We conduct ethically applied, process-oriented, and hypothesis-driven research that has immediate and relevant utility for conservation deliberations and the collective body of scientific knowledge.

We investigate to understand coastal species and processes. We inform by bringing science to decision-makers and communities. We inspire action to protect wildlife and wildlife habitats.

Coastal wolf with a salmon in its month.
Photo by Dene Rossouw.