Save the whales, submit comments before May 3, 2019

Are you concerned for the survival of Southern Resident killer whales? Now is the time for your input. You can submit a response to the Federal Survey on Southern Resident killer whales.

Raincoast scientists have been working with an international team of scientists, as well as experts at the David Suzuki Foundation, Georgia Strait Alliance, Natural Resources Defense Council and WWF Canada to identify what we believe are the best options for recovery using the best available science and a precautionary approach.

Southern Residents killer whales are slowly going extinct under status quo conditions. To recover they require measures that reduce noise, disturbance and pollution. They also need more improved prey availability i.e. Chinook salmon. Immediate measures that can support recovery in 2019.

Here are the important issues you might want to mention

#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 (Govt of Canada Map 1). This is Scenario B for the Gulf Islands and Fraser Mouth, and an expansion of Scenario B for the Juan de Fuca.
  • Implement vessel traffic no-go zones for Pender Island, Saturna Island and Swiftsure Bank (with exemptions for safety), as recommended by Federal Govt.

#2 physical and acoustic disturbance from domestic vessels

  • Implement a mandatory distance requirement for all vessels to stay more than 400m from a Southern Resident killer whale, as recommended by the federal government, with no directed whale watching on these whales, .
  • 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 including ferry services that regularly transit Southern Resident killer whale critical habitat.

#3  Reduce physical and acoustic disturbance from international shipping traffic

  • A measurable 3 decibel reduction in noise levels in SRKW foraging areas 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.

#4  Initiate wild Chinook recovery on populations that reside or migrate through SRKW critical habitat

  • Further reduce marine harvest on south migrating Chinook salmon (specifically Haida Gwaii and West Coast Vancouver Island) to improve salmon availability in the Salish Sea.
  • Do not expand Chinook hatcheries and ocean ranching net pens, which undermine recovery of wild Chinook.

#5 Enforcement of these measures

  • On-the-water enforcement of the distance regulations, fishing closures, and no-go zones enforced by C&P (Conservation & Protection) officers.
  • Support for First Nation guardian programs and organizations like Straitwatch to monitor vessel activities around whales.

Want more details on the federal government’s proposed options for 2019?

See the full package of issues and recommendations here

Map 1: Critical habitat, key foraging areas and proposed vessel no go zones

DFO Key Foraging Areas map 2019
Map 1. Key foraging areas (purple outline; shown for Canada and the US) and proposed vessel no go zones (solid red) within critical habitat for Southern Resident killer whales (green).

Map 2:  Gulf Islands Scenario B

Gulf Islands Scenario B 2019
Map 2. Protected Foraging areas, fishing closures and vessel no go zones identified in Option B for Southern Gulf Islands.

Map 3: Fraser Mouth Scenario B

fraser mouth sceanrio B 2019
Map 3. Protected Foraging areas and fishing closures identified in Options B for the mouth of the Fraser River.

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