Are you concerned for the survival of Southern Resident killer whales? Now is the time for your input. Use the federal survey to submit a response on scenarios developed over the last 4 months.
Raincoast scientists have been working with other experts at the David Suzuki Foundation, Georgia Strait Alliance, Natural Resource Defence Council and WWF Canada to identify what we believe are the best options for recovery based on the best available science and a precautionary approach.
Here are the important issues you might want to mention
Southern Residents killer whales are slowly going extinct under status quo conditions. This was recognized in the federal government’s “imminent threat” decision in 2018. To recover, they require measures that reduce noise, reduce disturbance, reduce pollution, and improve wild salmon abundance and diversity. The immediate measures to address this in 2019 including the following points.
#1 Implement protected areas from salmon fishing and vessels, specifically
- Implement full extent of foraging areas in the Juan de Fuca, Southern Gulf Islands and Fraser approaches that are free from salmon fishing (Map 1). This is Scenario B for the Gulf Islands (Map 2) and the Fraser Mouth (Map 3), and an expansion of Scenario B for the Juan de Fuca (no separate map, but shown in Map 1).
- Implement vessel traffic no-go zones for Pender Island, Saturna Island and Swiftsure Bank (with exemptions for safety), as recommended by Federal Govt (see map).
#2 Reduce physical and acoustic disturbance from domestic vessels
- Implement a mandatory distance requirement for all vessels to stay more than 400m from a killer whale, as recommended by Federal Govt.
- Mandatory slow down to 7 knots within 1 km of a killer whale, as recommended by Federal Government.
- Establish vessel quieting targets for Canadian commercial vessels that regularly transit SRKW critical habitat.
#3 Reduce physical and acoustic disturbance from international shipping traffic
- A measurable 3-decibel reduction in noise levels in SRKW critical habitat in 2019.
- No approvals for projects that would increase shipping in critical habitat (such as Terminal 2, Trans Mountain, and LNG initiatives) until a Strategic Environmental Assessment is completed that considers the cumulative effects of noise and shipping on marine life in the Salish Sea.
- Significant reductions in the transit and use of anchorages in SRKW critical habitat.
#4 Initiate wild Chinook recovery on populations that reside or migrate through SRKW critical habitat
- Reduction of harvest on early-timed Fraser Chinook to 5% total mortality (largely implemented in DFO April 16 announcement)
- Reduction in marine harvest on other south migrating Chinook salmon (including Haida Gwaii and West Coast Vancouver Island) to improve salmon abundance in terminal areas of the Salish Sea.
- No expansion of Chinook hatcheries and ocean ranching net pens, which undermine the recovery of wild Chinook.
- Protect freshwater Chinook habitat from watershed and shoreline development (including conventional forestry, urban, industrial and agricultural activities).
#5 Enforcement of these measures
- On-the-water enforcement of the distance regulations, fishing closures, and no-go zones must be enforced by C&P (Conservation & Protection) officers.
- Organizations such as Straitwatch need to be supported to monitor vessel activities around whales.