Summary of input provided on management measures to address key threats to Southern Resident killer whales
Beginning in 2018, management measures were implemented to address key threats to Southern Resident killer whale recovery. Since the initial implementation, the management measures have been updated and modified each year based on feedback received, the best available information and lessons learned from previous years.
Who has been the focus of these consultations
Since 2019, the Government of Canada, represented by the Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), Transport Canada (TC), Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and Parks Canada Agency (PCA), have sought comments on the proposed suite of management measures from:
- Indigenous groups
- the Canadian public
What we heard
- What we heard: Overview of Government of Canada consultation on proposed Southern Resident killer whale recovery management measures for 2023
- What we heard: Overview of Government of Canada consultation on proposed Southern Resident killer whale recovery management measures for 2022
- What we heard: Overview of Government of Canada consultation on proposed Southern Resident killer whale recovery management measures for 2021
- What we heard: Overview of Government of Canada consultation on proposed Southern Resident killer whale recovery management measures for 2020
- What we heard: Overview of Government of Canada consultation on proposed Southern Resident killer whale recovery measures for 2019
Southern Resident killer whales were listed as Endangered under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) in 2003.
Southern Resident killer whales are iconic and supporting their recovery is a key priority for the Government of Canada. In 2018, it was determined that Southern Resident killer whales are facing imminent threats to their survival and recovery. Beginning in 2018, in support of their recovery, a number of management measures were implemented.
In 2019, the Government of Canada implemented a suite of measures to further protect and support the recovery of Southern Resident killer whales, including:
- area-based fishing closures to increase Chinook salmon availability in Southern Resident killer whale foraging areas;
- increased vessel approach distance for killer whales;
- Interim Sanctuary Zones;
- voluntary fishing avoidance zone (stop fishing within 1,000 m of killer whales); and
- voluntary vessel measures to minimize disturbance in the presence of killer whales.
Since 2018, DFO, TC, ECCC and PCA have worked with Indigenous groups, the Indigenous and Multi-Stakeholder Advisory Group (IMAG), the Southern Resident killer whale Technical Working Groups (TWGs), and stakeholders to inform the development of the management measures. As well, the Government of Canada has continued partnering 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 slow downs and a lateral displacement of vessels.
The advice received from these forums has informed the development of proposed management measures for consultation with Indigenous groups and stakeholders from 2019 to 2022. Development of the proposed management measures has also considered lessons learned from previous years’ measures, recovery efforts underway in the U.S., new and existing science/research, and other Government of Canada management tools such as the southern BC Salmon Integrated Fisheries Management Plan.
The Government of Canada continues to support the recovery of Southern Resident killer whales. In addition to the management measures, the Government of Canada is advancing longer-term actions that address the primary threats to the protection and recovery of this population, including reduced prey availability, contaminants, and physical and acoustic disturbance.
- Minister's announcement on additional measures: Government of Canada taking further action to protect Southern Resident killer whales
- SRKW imminent threat opinion:
- News release: Summary of the imminent threat assessment for the Southern Resident killer whale
- Assessment: Southern Resident killer whale Imminent Threat Assessment
- Resident killer whale recovery documents on SARA public registry:
- Date modified: