Canada steps up efforts to ensure the recovery of Northern and Southern Resident Killer Whales

News Release

Ottawa, Ontario – The Government of Canada is stepping up efforts to ensure the recovery of Northern and Southern Resident Killer Whales off the west coast of British Columbia.

The Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc announced today the publication of the final Action Plan for Resident Killer Whales on the Species at Risk Public Registry.

The Plan identifies priority actions for the whales’ recovery, builds on our scientific knowledge of the species and helps to focus current and future efforts while providing a way for Canadians to contribute to the whales’ recovery.  It was finalized with the input of technical experts and thousands of comments from citizens, Indigenous groups, stakeholder organizations, and various levels of government and industry.

The Action Plan complements measures in the recently announced Oceans Protection Plan (OPP). The OPP includes important steps to address the threats to marine mammals and killer whales in particular by piloting a real-time whale detection system, increasing the number of Fishery Officers on Canada’s West Coast to help with incident response, and taking action to better understand and address the cumulative effects of shipping and noise on marine mammals.

Recently the Minister also announced – as part of the OPP– a scientific review of current management and recovery actions for the Southern Resident Killer Whale. It’s due this summer and will identify key additional measures and prioritize recommended actions.

Recovery efforts for Resident Killer Whales have been ongoing since both the Northern and Southern populations were listed under the Species at Risk Act in 2003.


“Protecting the Northern and Southern Resident Killer Whales and other species at risk is a priority for our government. We are committed to working together with Canadians to ensure the recovery of these iconic whales that play an important role in the rich marine ecosystems off the beautiful western coast of British Columbia."

The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, P.C., Q.C., M.P., Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard 

Quick Facts

  • Resident Killer Whale populations in British Columbia are considered to be at risk because of their small population size, low reproductive rate, and a variety of threats.

  • These threats include environmental contamination, reductions in the availability or quality of prey, and physical and acoustic disturbance, including the potential impacts from vessel traffic.

  • The proposed Action Plan for Northern and Southern Resident Killer Whales was posted on the Species at Risk Public Registry on June 15, 2016 for a 60-day public comment period and received over 11,000 submissions from stakeholder organizations, from First Nations and from citizens.

  • Canadians are invited to join in supporting and implementing this Action Plan through its recovery measures. They can also help by observing the Be Whale Wise guidelines in the presence of whales, and by reporting whale sightings to the BC Cetacean Sightings Network, and marine mammal incidents to DFO’s Observe, Record and Report 24-hour hotline at 1-800-465-4336.

Associated Links


Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Laura Gareau
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister
Fisheries and Oceans Canada


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