Indigenous groups, science community, marine industry, and government partners make progress in protecting endangered killer whale population
Vancouver, British Columbia – Today marks the conclusion of the Southern Resident Killer Whale Symposium in Vancouver. The Symposium brought together Indigenous groups, the scientific community, marine industry representatives and government partners, including from the United States, to address challenges facing this killer whale population.
The Southern Resident Killer Whale is listed as an endangered species under Canada’s Species At Risk Act, and faces challenges relating to the availability of prey, noise pollution and marine contaminants. The Government of Canada is committed to the protection and recovery of the Southern Resident Killer whale, which is an iconic species of Canada’s west coast, and one that holds significant cultural value for Indigenous and First Nations peoples.
Last November, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau launched the $1.5-billion national Oceans Protection Plan. This historic investment is designed to create a world-leading marine safety system that creates economic opportunities for Canadians, while also safeguarding the integrity of our coastlines and marine ecosystems.
As an important part of the Oceans Protection Plan, and following months of scientific work and public consultation, participants of the Southern Resident Killer Whale Symposium worked together to deepen the understanding of the threats facing this whale population, and to assess tangible solutions to help their recovery.
Discussions resulted in a number of concrete suggestions the government can undertake with the help of its partners to move beyond mitigation towards population stabilization and enhancement. While many and varied views were heard over the course of the symposium, a strong consensus was established on the following:
- We must continue to seek the inclusion of traditional knowledge and expertise of Indigenous and First Nations peoples as we work in partnership to address the challenges facing the SRKW.
- In all key areas relating to the survival, protection, and restoration of this iconic species, it is necessary that innovative, near-term solutions are developed and acted on in the areas of noise mitigation, prey availability and contaminants.
- We must consider additional temporal and spatial protection measures for the habitat of the SRKW and its prey.
- We must continue to work closely with domestic and international partners to explore options to reduce vessel noise and contaminants that threaten the SRKW.
- We must collaborate closely with the United States on SRKW protection measures.
- We must improve monitoring of SRKW.
The Government of Canada will publish a summary of what we heard at the symposium within three months. Combined with our commitment to act to reduce the impact of contaminants on the Southern Resident Killer Whales, improve their access to an adequate food supply, and reduce the underwater noise levels within their habitat, we will lay out a path forward with key action points for the immediate and longer term.
The Government of Canada looks forward to collaborating with all sectors to protect and recover the Southern Resident Killer Whale population.
Our government is committed to the protection and recovery of the Southern Resident Killer Whale—but we cannot do it alone. The collaboration on display over the last few days at this symposium has been encouraging, and will have a direct impact on our combined efforts to protect this iconic species. Our government is ready to take real action to protect Southern Resident Killer Whales.
The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, P.C., Q.C., M.P., Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
Canada’s Oceans Protection Plan is an unprecedented commitment that will protect our coasts and waterways, while improving conditions for marine mammals. Transport Canada is pleased to work with Canadian marine stakeholders to further studies on marine noise pollution and the possible impacts on marine mammals including on the Southern Resident Killer Whale.
The Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport
The Southern Resident Killer Whale captures the imagination of British Columbians and has become a powerful symbol of British Columbia itself. The insights provided and recommendations generated by participants at this week's Symposium will be extremely helpful in assisting the development of science-based, thoughtful, innovative and creative pathways to ensuring the protection and the recovery of this iconic species. As a government we are committed to working to protect and enhance biodiversity in Canada. This Symposium is very much a reflection of this commitment.
Jonathan Wilkinson, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Office of the Minister
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Office of the Honourable Marc Garneau
Minister of Transport
Environment and Climate Change Canada
819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll free)
Marie-Pascale Des Rosiers
Press Secretary, Office of the Minister
of Environment and Climate Change
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