Input on recovery of Southern Resident killer whale potential management measures for 2024-25
Current status: Closed
Opened on January 12, 2024, and closed to input on February 12, 2024
Southern Resident killer whales are identified as Endangered under the Species at Risk Act. As of December 2023, only 75 individuals remain, and supporting their recovery is a key priority for the Government of Canada. We’re looking for feedback on potential management measures for 2024 and 2025 as well for certain measures to help the recovery of this iconic Pacific species.
Management measures are intended to address key threats to the recovery of this population related to reduced availability of food and increased noise and disturbance in their habitat. We need your feedback to help us refine the proposed measures and to help us understand potential implications of management approaches.
Since 2019, the Government of Canada has implemented a suite of measures each year to protect and further support the recovery of Southern Resident killer whales, including:
- area-based fishing closures to increase prey (primarily Chinook salmon) availability in Southern Resident Killer Whale foraging areas
- increased vessel approach distance for killer whales (and prohibition against positioning a vessel in the path of killer whales)
- Interim Sanctuary Zones (no go zones)
- Speed Restricted Zones (vessel slow down zones)
- voluntary fishing avoidance zone (stop fishing within 1000m of killer whales)
- voluntary vessel measures to minimize disturbance in the presence of killer whales
These measures are informed by the best available information and science as well as advice from Indigenous groups, the Indigenous Multi-Nation group, the Indigenous and Multi-Stakeholder Advisory Group (IMAG), the Southern Resident killer whale Technical Working Groups (TWGs), stakeholders and the public. Additionally, the Government of Canada partners with the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) Program to inform the development of measures for Large Commercial Vessels, including slowdowns and a lateral displacement of vessels.
The information and advice received from these forums, lessons learned from previous years’ measures, recovery efforts underway in the US, science information, and other Government of Canada processes (such as the southern BC salmon Integrated Fisheries Management Plan process) are all used to help inform development of annual management measures.
In recognition that the recovery of the Southern Resident killer whale population will take continued and ongoing efforts, the Government of Canada is making changes to the implementation of management measures in support of their recovery by moving from the annual cycle of the Southern Resident killer whale process to advancing regulatory amendments to implement permanent measures and integrating within exisitng longer-term processes (such as the Integrated Fisheries Management Plan process). This focuses on implementing longer-term actions going forward that address the primary threats to the population, including reduced availability of food, contaminants, and disturbance in their environment. However, until these adjustments in our process are completed, the implementation of the annual, interim suite of management measures in support of Southern Resident Killer Whale recovery is critical to maintain and continue protections of this endangered population.
We invite you to fill out the survey via the link below to have your voice heard on the annual management measures in support of Southern Resident killer whale recovery.
Who is the focus of this engagement
The Government of Canada, represented by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), Transport Canada (TC) and Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), is seeking input from:
- Indigenous organizations
- the Canadian public
Key questions for discussion
Your ideas and input are sought around potential 2024 and 2025 Southern Resident Killer Whale recovery management measures within the Southern Resident Killer Whale Critical Habitat and a subset of their range. This includes the key areas of the Juan de Fuca Strait, Swiftsure Bank, the Gulf Islands, and at the mouth of the Fraser River.
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