In February 2018, we requested that cabinet issue an emergency order under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) to protect this endangered population of whales. Here’s why:
As of January 2018, the population of 76 Southern Resident killer whales has had no successful births since 2015. A 2017 study on their birth rates found nearly 70% of detected pregnancies failed due to nutritional stress associated with lack of prey. What should be healthy, reproductive members of the population are being lost to apparent starvation.
Lack of prey is due to both the abundance of Chinook and boat noise and disturbance that interferes with their ability to catch them. Raincoast’s population viability assessment and those conducted by government scientists indicate SRKWs face a 25 to 49 percent risk of extinction (respectively) in the next 100 years if their threats aren’t reduced.
The good news is they can recover if we reduce vessel disturbance and increase the availability of Chinook salmon.
Raincoast and its partners, represented by Ecojustice have made recommendations under the following six areas
- Implement measures to ensure prey availability and accessibility
- Establish protected Southern Resident feeding refuges
- Implement commercial and recreational fishing restrictions that maximise Chinook abundance to the Salish Sea and critical habitat
- implement rebuilding plans for weak Chinook Conservation Units
- Implement measures to avoid physical and acoustic disturbance from whale watching vessels
- Prohibit commercial and recreational whale-watching on Southern Resident killer whales in feeding refuges at relevant times of year
- Establish distance (200m) and speed restrictions for commercial and recreational whale-watching vessels in proximity to SRKWs,
- Establish a licensing system for commercial whale-watch operators that view Southern Resident killer whales in Canadian waters.
- Implement speed controls for commercial vessels transiting Juan de Fuca and Haro Strait and waters adjacent to the foraging areas
- Quiet commercial vessels servicing local routes in Southern Resident critical habitat
- Designate additional areas identified by DFO as Critical Habitat
- Address the cumulative impact of vessel traffic
Help us to compel government to act
The Southern Resident killer whales are critically endangered – they need our help. Raincoast and partners are petitioning the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Dominic LeBlanc and Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna to request that Cabinet issue an emergency order under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) to protect this endangered population of whales.