Protecting Southern Resident Killer Whales


What we've done, what's new



Increasing Prey Availability and Protecting Habitat

Introduced new fishery closures in May 2018, and reduced overall Chinook harvest by up to 25 to 35%  for the 2018 fishing season to increase prey availability  in three key Southern Resident Killer Whale foraging areas: Strait of Juan de Fuca, Gulf Islands, the mouth of the Fraser River  

Made a Critical Habitat Order for transboundary waters in southern British Columbia, including southern Georgia Strait, Haro Strait, and Juan de Fuca Strait  in 2009

Continuing to identify a new area of critical habitat (habitat necessary for the survival and recovery of SRKW) off the coast of Southwestern Vancouver Island in a proposed amended recovery strategy, which was included on the SARA public registry for a 60 day comment period on September 4, 2018, and closes on November 3, 2018. 

Examining further reductions of overall levels of Chinook Salmon fisheries for 2019 season

Making investments to strategically rebuild and protect Chinook stocks

Reducing Disturbance

Amended the Marine Mammal Regulations in July 2018, to include mandatory minimum approach distances.  For  killer whales in the Pacific, this means vessels must stay 200 metres away

Partnered with the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) program, industry stakeholders, and the US Coast guard, to implement a voluntary lateral displacement of vessels in the Strait of Juan de Fuca in June 2018, to move vessels further away from key foraging areas on the coast of Vancouver Island

Collaborated with the ECHO program to implement a voluntary vessel slowdown in Haro Strait to help quiet the waters, with a participation rate this year of nearly 90%.

Increased aerial surveillance over Southern Resident Killer Whale critical habitat by 30% since July 2018.

Expanding requirements for Automated Identification System (AIS) to smaller vessels. This makes our waters safer and also helps to identify where whales might be disturbed by a concentration of vessels

Expanding the voluntary vessel slow-down zone to reduce underwater noise.

Completing Conservation Agreements with key industry stakeholders to formalize existing voluntary measures and seek commitments to take actions to reduce the threat of acoustic disturbance in support of the recovery strategy  

Supporting the development of the WhaleReport Alert System by Ocean Wise to provide real time information on whale locations so vessels can avoid disturbing them

Launching consultation with marine industry on development and implementation of Noise Management Plans

Coordinating closely with U.S. agencies in implementing and moving towards mandatory measures to reduce the impact of underwater vessel noise on Southern Resident Killer Whales

Reducing Contaminants

Increased investment for research on contaminants, including monitoring of contaminant levels in whales and in their main prey.

Providing up to $423 million in funding for wastewater treatment plant upgrades in Victoria and North Vancouver through the Investing in Canada long-term infrastructure plan.

Launched an expert panel to review existing and emergent contaminants in wastewater systems and the technologies available to remove them

Published a Notice of Intent to amend the Prohibition of Certain Toxic Substances Regulations (PCTSR), 2012 to enhance regulatory controls for five persistent organic pollutants, including two flame retardants.

A consultation document outlining the proposed regulatory approach will be published in Fall 2018.

Proposed Regulations amending the PCTSR are expected to be published in the winter 2020.

Examine the feasibility of accelerating the Iona Wastewater Plant upgrade.

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