Government of Canada takes action to protect Southern Resident Killer Whales
“Southern Resident Killer Whales need our help in order to survive and recover. Together with my colleague, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, we have determined that the species faces an imminent threat to its survival and recovery, and we need to keep taking concrete action. Today I am pleased to announce new fishery management measures to increase prey availability and reduce disturbances to these whales and we continue to work hard on additional actions to be put in place soon.”
The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
“Our government is taking immediate steps today to protect Southern Resident Killer Whales and their prey, and we will take additional and ongoing action as needed to support their long-term recovery. These iconic and awe-inspiring whales are cherished by Canadians across the country and visitors alike, and protecting them is essential to keeping our oceans healthy and dynamic – not just for today, but to ensure we leave a rich natural legacy to our kids and grandkids.”
The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
B.C.’s Southern Resident Killer Whales inhabit the waters from southern and central Vancouver Island to northern California, including the Strait of Georgia, Puget Sound, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Their numbers fell significantly in the 1960s and early 1970s when approximately 47 orcas from the Southern Resident clan were captured and relocated to aquariums.
Since then, the Southern Resident population has fluctuated; the remaining 76 individual Southern Resident Killer Whales face threats from lack of prey, acoustic and physical disturbance, and pollution.
Southern Resident Killer Whales are listed as endangered species in both Canada and the U.S., and a federal recovery strategy was published in 2011 under the Species at Risk Act.
The Government of Canada is also investing $1.5 billion in a world-leading Oceans Protection Plan, and additional measures to promote the protection and recovery of three key whale species. Under the Oceans Protection Plan, Fisheries and Oceans in 2017 engaged governments, Indigenous groups, stakeholders and the public on how to further protect the North Atlantic Right Whale, the St Lawrence Estuary Beluga and the Southern Resident Killer Whale. Feedback received during the engagement informed planning and decision making for enhanced recovery efforts for these whale populations.
Budget 2018 committed $1.3 billion to invest in nature, create new protected areas, and support the recovery of species at risk, as well as $167.4 million over five years to help protect and recover endangered whale species in Canada. This includes funding for science activities to help better understand factors affecting the health of whale populations, as well as actions to help address the threats arising from human activities.
The Government of Canada is considering all options to ensure the necessary protections are in place to protect Southern Resident Killer Whales as rapidly as possible.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Environment and Climate Change Canada
819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll free)
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
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