2020 management measures to protect Southern Resident killer whales
The decline of the endangered Southern Resident killer whale population is linked to threats such as noise and disturbance from boats, and reduced availability of their preferred prey, chinook salmon, where wild populations of chinook salmon have declined dramatically in recent years. To address this, we are implementing management measures to protect chinook salmon, a vital food source for Southern Resident killer whales, and to minimize disturbance from vessels to support Southern Resident killer whale recovery.
Fishery management measures include closures to help increase the availability of chinook salmon and decrease noise disturbance in key Southern Resident killer whale foraging (feeding) areas found in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Gulf Islands within Southern Resident killer whale critical habitat. The area-based fishery closures will be in effect through the summer and fall for recreational and commercial salmon fisheries. Specific dates will be announced in June.
To further reduce noise and physical disturbance in portions of Southern Resident killer whale foraging areas, Interim Sanctuary Zones will be in effect from June 1 to November 30, 2020, to prohibit vessel traffic in a portion of Swiftsure Bank and off North Pender and Saturna Islands as per the Interim Order enacted under the Canada Shipping Act.
To address disturbance in the presence of whales, a mandatory 400-metre vessel approach distance for all killer whales is in effect starting June 1, 2020 in all southern British Columbia coastal waters between Campbell River and just north of Ucluelet.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 other than described above, and 100 metres for other whales, porpoises and dolphins or 200 metres when the animal is in resting position or with a calf.
The Government of Canada is also addressing contaminant issues. Efforts are underway to encourage ongoing and new activities in the areas of further controls, research and monitoring, data sharing, and outreach and education.
When out on the water, there are a number of actions you can take voluntarily to protect killer whales, as well as other marine mammals:
- Stop fishing within 1000m of killer whales
- Slow down to 7 knots or less when within 1000m of the nearest marine mammal
- Turn off echo sounders and fish finders when not in use
- Place engine in neutral idle and allow animals to pass if your vessel is not in compliance with the approach distance regulations
- For more information on the best ways to help whales while on the water, when on both sides of the border, please visit: bewhalewise.org
Management measures to protect Southern Resident killer whales
- ECHO Program
- Be Whale Wise
- Watching marine wildlife
- Protecting Canada's Endangered Whales
- Oceans Protection Plan Report to Canadians
- Protecting our Coasts - Oceans Protection Plan
- Species profile: Killer whale Northeast Pacific Southern Resident population
- Killer whale (Northeast Pacific, southern resident population) summary report
- $167.4 million Whales Initiative: Protecting the Southern Resident killer whale
- Transport Canada: Interim Order for the Protection of Killer Whales (Orcinus orca) in the Waters of Southern British Columbia
- Government of Canada announces second year of enhanced measures to protect Southern Resident killer whales
- Let’s Talk – Oceans Protection Plan
- Past consultations: Provide input on potential 2020 management measures to address key threats to Southern Resident Killer Whales
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