Southern Resident Killer Whales Contaminants Technical Working Group - 2022 recommended actions on contaminants

The decline of the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale (SRKW) is linked to threats including noise and disturbance from boats, reduced availability of their preferred prey (Chinook salmon), and exposure to contaminants through their food and environment. To minimize disturbance from vessels and protect Chinook salmon, the Government of Canada has been implementing interim management measures every year since 2019.

The threat of contaminants is not mitigated through annual measures as the approach for this threat requires many longer-term objectives and goals. In 2018, the Contaminants Technical Working Group (TWG), which includes members from all levels of government, non-governmental organizations, and academia, was established to investigate the threat of contaminants. In alignment with the overarching Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s (DFO) Species at Risk Act (SARA) Recovery Strategy for Resident Killer Whales, the TWG has identified and prioritized contaminants of concern, identified contaminant sources, and developed a series of recommendations on how to best address this threat.

In 2020, the TWG developed a series of recommendations that included 4 areas of work:  

The recommendations both recognized the considerable work underway by all Contaminants TWG participants and partners, and also included new actions to be taken by members.

Members have implemented actions and realized achievements across these areas of work, including:

Based on accomplishments to date and emerging issues of concern, the Contaminants Technical Working Group recommends the following:

In order to curb the continuing decline of the Southern Resident Killer Whale population, it is imperative to accelerate the work being performed to address threats that affect its recovery, by building on current achievements and tackling emerging issues.

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