Action needed for Southern Resident Killer Whales

On May 7, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada announced the 2024 management measures to support Southern Resident Killer Whale (SRKW) recovery.

In response, Georgia Strait Alliance’s Campaign Manager russ elliott, said:

“While there are some superficial changes, there is nothing substantively new in this year’s measures: only the seasonal addition of a voluntary vessel slowdown area that covers Tumbo Channel, off Saturna Island, and a small new closure in a sub-area in Juan de Fuca Strait.

“This year’s measures do not rise to the multifactorial challenges that these orcas face, and fail to provide any incremental supports that this endangered species can count on. The urgency, bold action, and vision needed at this stage is missing.

Simply put, the status quo is not a recovery plan. The DFO has provided a managed extinction plan for Southern Resident orcas.

“The status quo is especially troubling as we continue degrading orca habitat and accelerating biodiversity loss without applying additional measures to facilitate the resiliency of these endangered whales. Examples include this month’s start-up of the Trans Mountain pipeline (TMX), the looming Roberts Bank Terminal 2 expansion, and the proposed Tilbury marine jetty and associated liquified natural gas project, all of which are proposed for critical orca and Chinook Salmon habitat. The result is that the threats to orcas’ survival are only getting exponentially more troublesome while regulations stagnate.

“At GSA, we are incredibly disappointed, but we know that the government can use interim orders to rapidly change course. They can, for example, follow the lead of Washington State which is more than doubling the distance that boats must keep from orcas to 1,000 yards (or 914 metres). DFO can move beyond the status quo and implement robust change, react to the immediate threats posed by LNG and marine shipping, and take seriously their own legislation, like the Species at Risk Act.”

Join us in taking action today!

Email your MP and the ministers responsible – tell them how you feel and that you want to see real change. We have a templated response you can use focussed on an emergency interim order to implement a 1,000-metre buffer zone in all BC waters – a measure that we know would help SRKWs – but please feel free to add your own spice and flavour to it! Please help amplify this action by sharing the link with your friends, family, colleagues, and others in your community.

Image: Tom Middleton