2020 Measures to Protect Southern Resident Killer Whales
May 7, 2020
Today, Minister Garneau, Minister Jordan, and Minister Wilkinson announced this year's protective measures to support the survival and recovery of the Southern Resident killer whale. The measures announced today focus on the primary threats to the SRKW, such as prey availability and accessibility, acoustic and physical disturbance, and contaminants. As in previous years, this year's measures once again reflect the advice from First Nations, industry, and public consultations.
Measures led by Fisheries and Oceans Canada include:
- Protecting access to Chinook salmon with minimal disturbance in key foraging areas. There will again be area-based closures in the Juan de Fuca Strait and Southern Gulf Islands for recreational and commercial salmon fisheries. Specific dates will be announced in June.
- This year, all fish harvesters will also be asked to voluntarily stop fishing within 1000 metres of killer whales throughout B.C. waters.
Measures led by Transport Canada include:
- Creating interim sanctuary zones off Pender Island, Saturna Island and at Swiftsure Bank, which are in effect from June 1 to November 30, 2020. This is an additional month longer than last year. No vessel traffic will be permitted in these areas subject to certain exceptions for emergency and Indigenous vessels.
- Prohibiting vessels from approaching any killer whale within a 400-metre distance, effective June 1, 2020. Starting this year, this will apply year-round and in BC coastal waters between Campbell River and Ucluelet, which is further north than last year's measure.
- Asking all vessels to "go slow" and reduce speed to less than seven knots when within 1000 metres of a whale. Vessels are also asked to turn off echo sounders and fish finders when not needed, and turn engines to neutral idle if a whale is within 400 metres. This will be year-round.
Measures led by Environment and Climate Change Canada include:
- Reducing contaminants affecting whales and their prey. Long-term actions focus on enhancing regulatory controls, monitoring and research, sharing information and data, and expanding outreach and education.
- Reducing contaminants affecting whales and their prey, based on the advice and recommendations of experts in the SRKW Contaminants Working Group.
For more information, see here, and here
For Q&A on today's announcement and a map, please see here.