Cabinet rejects request for an emergency order for endangered killer whales

Raincoast’s Misty MacDuffee speaks with Adam Stirling on CFAX 1070.

Southern Resident killer whale, J50, looking emaciated in the Salish Sea.

J50 near San Juan Island, WA, in Sept. 2018. Photo by Katy Foster/NOAA Fisheries.

Last week the Canadian federal government announced its refusal to issue an emergency order to protect endangered Southern Resident killer whales under the Species at Risk Act, despite the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans’ recommendation to do so.

Raincoast Conservation and our partners, David Suzuki Foundation, Georgia Strait Alliance, Natural Resources Defense Council, and WWF-Canada are pleased that the ministers recommended an emergency order, yet deeply disappointed that Cabinet rejected what we believe to be the best tool to recover these whales. We are calling for the following measures to be in place by spring.

  1. Create feeding refugia where commercial and recreational salmon fishing, and whale watching on Southern Resident killer whales are prohibited.
  2. Close marine commercial and recreational Chinook fisheries that catch mixed populations of Chinook from Southern B.C. and other stocks known to be important to the diets of Southern Residents.
  3. Restrict commercial and private whale-watching on Southern Resident killer whales in Critical Habitat
  4. Set mandatory targets to reduce noise and disturbance from commercial vessels traveling in critical habitat and take steps to quantifiably reduce the cumulative levels of noise and disturbance from all marine traffic.

Beyond these immediate measures, other actions (addressing habitat loss, forage fish, military exercises, technology upgrades to vessels, pollution regulations and more) are required to recover the quality of critical habitat.

Misty MacDuffee joined Adam Stirling on CFAX 1070 on Monday, November 5th to discuss these measures and to field questions about the wide range of factors that make it difficult for Southern Resident killer whales to forage successfully.

Listen here.

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Misty MacDuffee is a biologist and Wild Salmon Program Director

Misty MacDuffee, Wild Salmon Program Director

Misty is a biologist and the Program Director of Raincoast’s Wild Salmon Program. Her most recent publication, with co-authors at Raincoast & the University of Victoria, identifies the importance of habitat mosaics for fish in the Fraser River estuary. She is dedicated to the long term survival of finned, furred, and feathered creatures.