We’re headed back to court for killer whales

Today we are returning to court to challenge the federal government’s re-approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

A killer whale in the foreground, with a container ship behind it in the mouth of the Fraser River.

Photo by Tori Obermeyer.

Today we are returning to court with partners Ecojustice and Living Oceans Society to challenge the federal government’s re-approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Our lawyers at Ecojustice submitted a motion to the Federal Court of Appeal this morning, asking for leave to launch a judicial review of Cabinet’s decision. We contend that Cabinet failed to comply with its responsibility to protect critically endangered Southern Resident killer whales when it re-approved the project on June 18, 2019.

This is the second time we have appealed to the courts concerning the effects of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion on Southern Resident killer whales. We won our first case on Trans Mountain with Living Oceans and Ecojustice in August 2018, when the Federal Court of Appeal struck down Cabinet’s previous approval of the project. Along with a failure of adequate consultation with First Nations, the ruling extinguished the permits that would have allowed construction and forced the National Energy Board to re-evaluate the project’s marine shipping impacts.

Our motion can be viewed here.1

The population of Southern Residents is small and declining, and the decline is expected to continue under status quo conditions. In order to recover these imperilled killer whales, they need urgent support, not an increase of physical and acoustical disturbances, oil spills, and contaminants associated with more tanker traffic.

Beyond this legal challenge, Raincoast continues to work with a network of scientists and conservation experts to push for effective recovery measures. Threat reduction measures implemented thus far include fisheries restrictions, the establishment of feeding sanctuaries, and vessel restrictions that would lower physical and acoustic disturbance on Southern Residents.  While an important start, these projects are still limited in times, areas and scale relative to what is likely necessary for threat reduction.

Raincoast has also been working to implement long-term salmon recovery solutions through projects like habitat restoration in the Fraser estuary that will benefit Chinook salmon, the whale’s primary food.

Monthly donations give us the financial certainty to help drive long term efforts required if we are to ensure this population can continue to call the Salish Sea their home.

For those that remain.

Misty MacDuffee, biologist and program director.

Misty MacDuffee

Misty is a biologist and the Program Director of Raincoast’s Wild Salmon Program. Her most recent publication, with co-authors at the Wild Fish Conservancy and the University of Montana, describes a framework for certifying salmon fisheries based on a much higher bar than is currently in use. She is dedicated to the long term survival of finned, furred, and feathered creatures.

Paul Paquet, Senior Scientist Paul Paquet, Senior Raincoast Scientist

Paul is an internationally recognized authority on mammalian carnivores, including their ecology, behaviour, and management. Having published more than 200 scholarly articles and several books addressing issues of ecology, conservation, and environmental ethics, Paul brings over 40 years of academic and applied research experience to Raincoast as our Senior Scientist.

  1. Our apologies, the link is broken, now. https://ln.sync.com/dl/d1891e440/na6uzd6u-mxr7jzsv-kdyd53sp-cnaz7jyw

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