Comments submitted on DFOs Action Plan for resident killer whales

Thank you to the thousands of you that submitted comments on the Action Plan for resident killer whales (PDF).  Raincoast teamed up with Ecojustice and other ENGO’s to submit our comments. Generally, our concerns are that the plan lacks actions to reduce threats or change the status quo for the Salish Sea’s endangered killer whales. Our comments can be downloaded here (PDF).

Comments on proposed Action Plan for Resident killer whales.pdf

These whales can only survive with strong protections and immediate action.

You can still write the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans on the need for action to protect endangered whales

1. Send your letter to the Fisheries Minister,

Minister LeBlanc Min [at] dfo-mpo [dot] gc [dot] ca.

2. Share the video and encourage others to write as well.

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Suggested comments for your letter

1. An Action Plan that is specific to endangered Southern Resident killer whales is required. The proposed Action Plan makes no distinction between the measures needed to recover an endangered population of <85 whales (Southern Residents) that live in a highly impacted region, and a growing population of >200 whales (Northern Residents) that live in more remote parts of the BC coast.

2. Food supply – An adequate food supply must be ensured. Low abundance of Chinook (Spring) salmon corresponds to killer whales not getting enough to eat, their survival and birthrates dropping, and mortality increasing. More Chinook for whales will require closing commercial and recreational Chinook fisheries, and allowing these salmon runs to rebuild.

3. Disturbance – Boats that closely follow resident killer whales hinder their ability to successfully catch salmon. Southern Resident killer whales are within 400m of a vessel most of the time during daylight hours from May to September. Reducing boat disturbance requires regulations that increase the approach distance from 100m to at least 200m, matching US regulations. Other measures such as limiting boat numbers, and/or constrain the viewing times and/or days when boats follow whales. Such regulations also require enforcement.

4. Noise – Growing noise levels from ship traffic in the Salish Sea make it hard for killer whales to successfully hunt, feed and communicate. Until a Cumulative Effects Assessment is undertaken, and a noise budget completed, no Salish Sea shipping expansions (ergo, increased noise) can be approved.

5. Enforcement: Funding to monitor and enforce regulations for endangered killer whales must be established.

The above actions are immediate priorities. In addition, there is a need for longer-term action on marine pollutants, commitments to marine protected areas, amending the marine mammal regulations, identify Salish Sea killer whale sanctuaries, and reducing ship noise.