Government of Canada is taking steps to support recovery of the Southern Resident Killer Whales in the Salish Sea

News release

October 22, 2018                     VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA

Canada has the longest coastline in the world, serving as home to rich biodiversity and precious ecosystems. The Government of Canada is building on its historic Oceans Protection Plan, and taking immediate action to preserve and restore marine ecosystems to help endangered whale populations recover.

In June 2018, the Government of Canada announced the $167.4 million Whales Initiative that increases Transport Canada’s research and monitoring of underwater noise and vessel movement. Building on this, today, Terry Beech, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport announced measures to support the recovery of endangered whale populations. Transport Canada will be working with multiple partners on the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) program which is looking at ways to reduce underwater noise in key areas where there are Southern Resident Killer Whales.

These $1.6 million measures will include the deployment of an underwater hydrophone at Boundary Pass in the Salish Sea. Over the coming months, the hydrophone will collect individual vessel and mammal noise profiles and the information will be used to develop measures to further support the recovery of the Southern Resident Killer Whales. In addition, with support from the National Research Council of Canada, Transport Canada will carry out a four-year project to better predict propeller noise and hull vibration of a vessel.

The $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan is the largest investment ever made to protect Canada’s coasts and waterways. Through this plan, the Government of Canada is creating a world-leading marine safety system that provides economic opportunities for Canadians today, while protecting our coasts and waterways for generations to come. This work is being done in close collaboration with Indigenous peoples, local stakeholders and coastal communities.


“I am proud of how we are working to address recovery of these iconic species. By increasing our research and monitoring, we are getting a better understanding of how we can reduce human-caused threats and successfully recover endangered whale populations.”

The Honourable Marc Garneau,
Minister of Transport

“Canada’s Whales Initiative builds on the success of the Oceans Protection Plan to support the recovery of endangered whale populations. Coming from the West Coast and thanks to my work on this issue during my previous experience as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, I am keenly aware of the plight of the Southern Resident Killer Whale. I know how important the survival of this whale population is for Canadians and I am proud to be advancing key initiatives to help address their recovery."

Terry Beech
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

“A key focus of the ECHO Program is supporting the recovery of southern resident killer whales, and the underwater hydrophone is critical to our understanding of how underwater vessel noise might be affecting these and other at-risk species,” said Duncan Wilson, Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility at Vancouver Fraser Port Authority. “Transport Canada’s initiative aligns well with our environmental objectives and we are pleased to see their ongoing commitment to protect the marine environment.”

Duncan Wilson
Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility at Vancouver Fraser Port Authority

Quick facts

  • In Haro Strait, a voluntary vessel slowdown in summer 2018 was built on the successful 2017 slowdown in the same area that significantly reduced underwater noise in critical habitat when Southern Resident Killer Whales were present.

  • Beginning in August 2018, the Strait of Juan de Fuca lateral displacement trial has seen consistent shifts of commercial vessels away from key Southern Resident Killer Whale foraging areas.

  • Transport Canada is adding an additional aircraft to its fleet for the National Aerial Surveillance Program. It is also adding a state of the art maritime search radar on each coast and infra-red sensors for all of the program’s aircraft.

  • During summer 2018, there were no reported deaths of the North Atlantic right whale in Canadian waters.

Associated links


Delphine Denis
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Marc Garneau
Minister of Transport, Ottawa

Media Relations
Transport Canada, Ottawa

Follow Transport Canada on Twitter: @Transport_gc

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