2020 management measures to protect Southern Resident killer whales

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Overview

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 from August 1 to October 31, 2020 for recreational and commercial salmon fisheries.

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:

Maps of management measures

Overview of management measures

Overview of management measures

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Overview of management measures

Overview of management measures to protect Southern Resident killer whales

Strait of Juan de Fuca
  • Yellow area, Aug 1 to Oct 31: No recreational or commercial salmon fishing.
  • Pink area: The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) Program Strait of Juan de Fuca voluntary inshore lateral displacement. Inshore vessels (tugs) move further away from shore into lateral displacement zone.
Swiftsure Bank
  • Red area, Jun 1 to Nov 30: Interim Sanctuary Zone - No fishing or boating (with exceptions)
  • Pink area: The ECHO Program Swiftsure Bank voluntary vessel slowdown for outbound vessels. Large commercial vessel slow down to speed through water targets: 11.5kn (bulkers, tankers, general cargo, tug, government) or 14.5kn (containers, car carriers, cruise).
Gulf Islands
  • Yellow area, Aug 1 to Oct 31: No recreational or commercial salmon fishing
  • Red area, Jun 1 to Nov 30: Interim Sanctuary Zones - No fishing or boating (with exceptions)
  • Pink area: The ECHO Program Haro Strait and Boundary Pass voluntary vessel slowdown. Large commercial vessel slow down to speed through water targets: 11.5kn (bulkers, tankers, general cargo) or 14.5kn (containers, car carriers, cruise).
Orange Area
  • In effect June 1, 2020 (year round): Keep 400m away from killer whales (with some exceptions) in southern British Columbia coastal waters between Campbell River and just north of Ucluelet.
Canadian Pacific waters
  • Year round (Mandatory): Keep 200m away from all killer whales, except when in southern British Columbia coastal waters between Campbell River and just north of Ucluelet (orange areas).
  • Voluntary measures:
    • Voluntary Fishing Avoidance Zone: Stop fishing within 1000m of killer whales
    • Slow down to 7 knots or less when within 1000m of the nearest marine mammal
    • Turn off echosounders 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
Gulf Islands management measures

Gulf Islands management measures

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Gulf Islands management measures

Gulf Islands (Pender)

  • June 1 to Nov. 30: No vessels or fishing (with some exceptions) in the Interim Sanctuary Zone located in a portion of Subarea 18-4. Full coordinates can be found in FN0491.
  • Aug 1 to Oct 31: No recreational or commercial salmon fishing in Subarea 18-9 and portions of Subareas 18-2 and 18-4. Full coordinates can be found in FN0762.

Gulf Islands (Saturna)

  • June 1 to Nov. 30: No vessels or fishing (with some exceptions) in the Interim Sanctuary Zone located in portions of Subarea 18-5 and 18-11. Full coordinates can be found in FN0491.
  • Aug 1 to Oct. 31: No recreational or commercial fishing for salmon in portions of Subareas 18-4, 18-5 and 18-11. Full coordinates can be found in FN0762.
Juan de Fuca management measures

Juan de Fuca management measures

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Juan de Fuca management measures

Juan de Fuca

  • Jun 1 to Nov 30: No vessels or fishing (with some exceptions) in the Interim Sanctuary Zone located in portions of Subareas 121-1 and 121-2. Full coordinates can be found in FN0491.
  • Aug 1 to Oct 31: No recreational or commercial fishing for salmon in Subareas 20-3 and 20-4, and a portion of Subarea 121-1. Full coordinates can be found in FN0762.

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