Government of Canada continues unprecedented action to protect Northern and Southern Resident Killer Whales
“As a British Columbian, I know how the Southern Resident Killer Whale captures the imagination of Canadians and is a powerful symbol of British Columbia. That is why we continue to take urgent actions to protect our Resident Killer Whales. Building on measures to address prey availability and vessel disturbances, we are proposing new additional critical habitat to help safeguard the future of these whales. We fully intend to keep our commitment to protect and support the recovery of Canada’s endangered Resident Killer Whales. ”
The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
“The Government is determined to build on the progress we’ve made under the Oceans Protection Plan over the last two years to protect the Northern and Southern Resident Killer Whales. We have had great success with a 90 per cent participation in the voluntarily slowdown of commercial ships in the Haro Strait to reduce noise impacts, and we will do all we can to bring this rate up to 100 per cent.”
The Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport
A recovery strategy is a planning document that identifies what needs to be done to arrest or reverse the decline of a species. The Recovery Strategy for Northern and Southern Resident Killer Whales was finalized in 2008 and identified threats, recovery objectives, and partial critical habitat for Northern and Southern Resident Killer Whales. Minor amendments were made to the document in 2011 to clarify the attributes of the critical habitat. The current proposed Amended Recovery Strategy proposes to update the identification of critical habitat for Resident Killer Whales, based on new science advice.
A Critical Habitat Order focuses on protecting specific geographic locations and conditions necessary for the survival or recovery of the species, such as where they give birth, feed or raise their young – the critical habitat. Proposed activities in areas of designated critical habitat must be assessed on a case-by-case basis and may require an authorization before going ahead to ensure that they will not jeopardize the species. The Order prohibits destruction of critical habitat.
From June 12 to July 11, 2018, Fisheries and Oceans Canada conducted an external review of the amended Recovery Strategy for Resident Killer Whales in Canada, which included updates to the critical habitat section to identify two new areas proposed as critical habitat and to clarify the features, functions, and attributes of both existing and proposed critical habitat.
Feedback received during the external review process informed proposed amendments to the recovery strategy.
A key objective of this amendment is to identify these new areas of special importance as critical habitat, based on science advice.
Following finalization, legal protection for this newly identified critical habitat will be accomplished through a critical habitat order that triggers a prohibition against its destruction.
Under SARA, it is the destruction of critical habitat that is prohibited, activities themselves are not prohibited if they do not lead to the destruction of critical habitat.
- 60-day comment period for proposed Amended Recovery Strategy for the Northern and Southern Resident Killer Whales in Canada
- The Government of Canada takes immediate action to protect endangered whales through the Oceans Protection Plan (June 2018)
- Southern Resident Killer Whale Imminent Threat Assessment (May 2018)
- Government of Canada takes action to protect Southern Resident Killer Whales (May 2018)
- Government of Canada provides new funding to protect whales through the Oceans Protection Plan (February 2018)
- Identification of Habitats of Special Importance to Resident Killer whales (Orcinus orca) off the West Coast of Canada (Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat Science Advisory Report 2017/011)
- Habitats of Special Importance to Resident Killer Whales (Orcinus orca) off the West Coast of Canada
- Information on broader recovery initiatives for Resident Killer Whales
- Southern Resident Killer Whale Species at Risk Registry Page
- Northern Resident Killer Whale Species at Risk Registry Page
- Learn more about the Species at Risk Public Registry
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans
and the Canadian Coast Guard
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
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