2019 management measures to protect Southern Resident killer whales

The seasonal distribution and movement patterns of Southern Resident killer whales (SRKW) are strongly associated with the availability of their preferred prey, chinook salmon, however wild populations of chinook salmon have declined dramatically in recent years. This lack of prey has been a critical factor in the decline of Southern Resident killer whales. To address this, the Government of Canada implemented fishery management measures to protect Fraser River chinook salmon, a vital food source for Southern Resident killer whales.

Fishery management measures for 2019 included closures to help increase the availability of chinook salmon and decrease noise disturbance in the key SRKW foraging (feeding) areas found in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Gulf Islands and the mouth of the Fraser River. A mandatory 400-metre approach distance for all killer whales was also in effect from June 1 through to October 31 2019 in the Southern Resident killer whale critical habitat.

While these seasonal measures have come to an end for the 2019 season, the Marine Mammal Regulations continue to remain in effect year-round, including maintaining a minimum 200 metre approach distance from all killer whales in Canadian Pacific waters, and, for other whales, porpoises and dolphins, a minimum approach distance of 100 metres or 200 metres when in resting position or with a calf.

Management measures to protect Southern Resident killer whales

Overview of management measures

Overview of management measures

Download alternate format (.PDF)

Overview of management measures
Long text version

Overview of management measures to protect Southern Resident killer whales

Map depicting areas affected by management measures

All green and blue areas

  • 400m Approach (mandatory), exemption for some whale watching operators for Transient killer whales.
  • Turn off eco sounders when not in use (voluntary)
  • Leave engine off/neutral idle within killer whale approach distance (voluntary)

All blue areas

  1. Voluntary fishery avoidance zone within 1000m of killer whales (voluntary)
  2. "Go slow zone" (7 knots or less) within 1000m of killer whales (voluntary)

Strait of Juan de Fuca

  • Area-based fishery closures for recreational and commercial salmon in effect after Chinook non-retention expires on July 31 and continue through October 31

Swiftsure Bank

  • Interim Sanctuary Zone, which prohibits general vessel traffic (with exemptions) June 1 – October 31
  • Note: the larger area (purple outline) is an existing closure for recreational and commercial hook and line fisheries

Mouth of Fraser

  • Voluntary fishery avoidance zone - May until October 31

Gulf Islands

  • Area-based fishery closures for recreational and commercial salmon in effect after Chinook restrictions expire on August 1 through October 31

Pender and Saturna

  • Interim Sanctuary Zones, which prohibits general vessel traffic (with exemptions) June 1 through October 31
Gulf Islands management measures

Gulf Islands management measures

Download alternate format (.PDF)

Gulf Islands management measures

Gulf Islands (Pender)

Subarea 18-9 and portions of Subareas 18-2 and 18-4 are no fishing for salmon including Recreational and Commercial Fisheries effective August 1 until October 31, 2019. Full coordinates can be found in FN0735.

In addition, all fishing is prohibited (with some exceptions) from June 1 until October 31, 2019 in the Interim Sanctuary Zone located in a portion of Subarea 18-4. More information on this area can be found in FN0507.

Gulf Islands (Saturna)

Portions of Subareas 18-4 and 18-5 are no fishing for salmon including Recreational and Commercial fisheries effective August 1, until October 31, 2019. Full coordinates can be found in FN0735.

In addition, all fishing is prohibited (with some exceptions) from June 1 until October 31, 2019 in the Interim Sanctuary Zone located in portions of Subarea 18-5 and 18-11. More information on this area can be found in FN0507.

Juan de Fuca management measures

Juan de Fuca management measures

Download alternate format (.PDF)

Juan de Fuca management measures

Juan de Fuca

Subareas 20-3 and 20-4 are no fishing for salmon including Recreational and Commercial fisheries effective August 1 until October 31, 2019.

In addition, all fishing is prohibited (with some exceptions) from June 1 until October 31, 2019 in the Interim Sanctuary Zone located in portions of Subareas 121-1 and 121-2. More information on this area can be found in FN0507.

Related material

Publications

News releases

Consultations