Feds to increase approach distance to 200m from orcas

On October 26, 2017, the federal government announced it will enact an enforceable requirement for all water-based vessels to maintain a minimum distance of 200 metres from southern resident killer whales beginning by next spring.

In response, the Executive Director of Georgia Strait Alliance, Christianne Wilhelmson, made the following statement:

“With this policy, the federal government is strengthening the current non-enforceable guideline for vessels to remain 100 metres from southern resident killer whales. This is a positive step forward; this is a measure that will help to reduce human disturbance of marine mammals and may also prevent whale deaths, in particular, that result from collisions.

This measure brings Canadian regulations in 2018 into alignment with those implemented in 2011 in the United States, where approach distances for boaters are 200 yards (or 182 metres) from killer whales.

This announcement is an indication that the government is listening and starting to take action on what has been a proposed amendment to the Marine Mammal Act for some 10 years.

Georgia Strait Alliance hopes this signals that the government is ready to make concrete and hard decisions in the short term that will address the three main threats to southern resident killer whales: a lack of their preferred prey (Chinook salmon), noise and disturbance from vessels, and toxic contaminants.”

For more information, contact:

Allison Murray
Georgia Strait Alliance | Communications Associate