Southern Residents and recovery

Close up photograph of an orca whale, white and black face and black body partially out of green water.

Photo taken from land. Photo by K. Cullen.

In 2019, we saw the most significant threat reduction measures the Canadian government has taken to date to support recovery of Southern Resident killer whales. Through coordinated legal, scientific, and public outreach strategies, and government negotiations, Raincoast and our partners compelled the federal government to implement more ambitious measures for endangered whales. These included Chinook (and other salmon) fishing closures, three interim whale sanctuaries, an increased whale watching/vessel approach distance of 400 m, slow downs of commercial freighters and tankers through Haro Strait, and a move to end commercial whale watching on Southern Residents in their critical habitat. 

Our engagement with federal departments helped establish five cross-sectoral Technical Working Groups that focus on specific areas for killer whale recovery. We also started Chinook salmon (primary prey) habitat restoration in the Fraser estuary, and completed two successful rounds of filming for our upcoming killer whale documentary, with a final round of filming scheduled for 2020. In addition, we continued to garner extensive coverage in regional, national, and international media outlets such as the CBC, Globe and Mail, Seattle Times, the BBC, and Helsinki Times.

Although we have made progress, there is much more to achieve. We are still working to halt major shipping and industrial projects, including the Terminal 2 expansion on Roberts Bank in the Fraser estuary, which would further industrialize critical habitat in the Salish Sea. We also need to change the unsustainable management of Chinook salmon, the primary prey for these whales.

Read the rest of our annual report.

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