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 has implemented fishery management measures to protect Fraser River chinook salmon, a vital food source for Southern Resident killer whales.

Fishery management measures for 2019 include closures that will 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 new mandatory 400-metre approach distance for all killer whales is also now in effect in the Southern Resident killer whale critical habitats.

Coordinates and more detailed maps coming soon.

Overview of management measures to protect Southern Resident killer whales

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Overview of management measures
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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

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