Draft Partial Action Plan for Blue, Fin, Sei and North Pacific Right Whales – Regional Consultation Summary
Blue, Fin, Sei and North Pacific Right Whales were respectively listed as Endangered (2005), Threatened (2006), Endangered (2005) and Endangered (2006) under SARA. As these whales occupy territorial waters off the coast of British Columbia, and have either been seen in or could possibly occupy waters administered by the Parks Canada Agency, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, and the Minister responsible for the Parks Canada Agency are the competent ministers for these species according to SARA. DFO therefore established a small internal working group of technical experts to develop the draft of this partial action plan, including individuals from Parks Canada Agency and Environment Canada.
On initiation of the development of the draft partial action plan, letters were sent out to all coastal First Nations soliciting participation in the partial action plan’s development. The initial draft of the partial action plan was sent to the Canadian Coast Guard, Department of National Defence, Environment Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Parks Canada Agency, Transport Canada, the Province of British Columbia, and the U.S. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration for review and comment.
The draft partial action plan was posted to the DFO Pacific Region Consultation website for a public comment period from April 17 – May 17, 2013. A draft of the partial action plan, along with a discussion guide and feedback form, was made available on the website. The consultation was primarily web-based, and included mail-outs of hard copy letters, emails and faxes to Wildlife Management Boards, Joint Fisheries Committees and all coastal First Nations, soliciting input and feedback on the draft partial action plan, as well offering bilateral meetings as required. Notification was also sent by electronic mail to a distribution list of stakeholders and environmental non-government organizations (ENGOs), to former Action Planning Team members, and government agencies who had been involved in prior review.
Six feedback forms were received, including comments from academic and ENGO representatives, and secondary school students. Four letters were received, containing feedback from First Nations, ENGO and industry representatives. Feedback largely followed these themes: strengthening existing actions and including suggestions of new actions, particularly around anthropogenic noise and vessel strikes; expanding the set of actions and identifying critical habitat, specifically for Fin Whales; tightening timelines for some actions; increasing public engagement in the recovery of the species; clarifying parts of the socio-economic analysis; encouraging coordination of efforts and collaboration; and offering contributions to the implementation of the partial action plan. Where appropriate, feedback received during the above noted consultation period has been incorporated into the proposed partial action plan.
Did you know?
Between 1951 and 2013, not a single North Pacific Right Whale was seen in Canadian waters. It is estimated that there are currently less than 50 of these Endangered whales in the eastern North Pacific Ocean. But on June 9, 2013, a DFO biologist had the experience of a lifetime, sighting a North Pacific Right Whale off the west coast of Haida Gwaii.
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