OTTAWA, Feb. 16, 2018 /CNW/ - The Southern Resident Killer Whale is one of Canada's most iconic species and faces threats including environmental contaminants. The Government of Canada is investing in science to aid in its protection and recovery.
Under the Oceans Protection Plan, the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, today announced an additional $72,000 to support the Vancouver Aquarium's PollutionTracker, a monitoring program that will help identify the sources of contaminants in British Columbia's marine environment. In total, the Government of Canada has contributed approximately $470,000 towards the implementation of this program.
Minister LeBlanc also announced the release of the What We Heard report on the Southern Resident Killer Whale Symposium held in Vancouver, British Columbia in October 2017. The report outlines the main ideas put forward by experts from Canadian and U.S. governments, academia, environmental non-governmental organizations, industry and Indigenous communities during the 3-day symposium. Suggestions were provided in four key areas: Prey Availability; Contaminants and the Food Web; Noise and Physical Disturbance; and Integrative Action.
For the 2018 salmon fishing season, the Department will take additional fishery management measures to increase chinook availability in key Southern Resident Killer Whale foraging areas within their Critical Habitat. These measures will be designed to increase access to the whales' food supply and to reduce physical and acoustic disturbance from commercial and recreational fishing activities. DFO will be engaging with stakeholders on these new measures in the near future.
The Department will implement these measures on a trial basis in 2018. Monitoring of these key foraging areas will be designed to assess the effectiveness of proposed measures and build in flexibility to make adjustments as required for longer-term fisheries management measures to benefit Southern Resident Killer Whales.
The Department is also undertaking work to increase critical habitat for Southern Resident Killer Whales to include important winter foraging habitat off the West Coast of Vancouver Island in and around Swiftsure Bank.
Helped by the concrete suggestions put forward during the symposium, and building on extensive science work and consultation, the Government of Canada is working hard to lay out a path forward for the Southern Resident Killer Whale with key actions for the immediate and longer term.
- The $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan is the largest investment ever made to protect Canada's coasts and waterways. Through this plan, the Government of Canada is creating a world-leading marine safety system that provides economic opportunities for Canadians today, while protecting our coasts and waterways for generations to come. This work is being done in close collaboration with Indigenous peoples, local stakeholders and coastal communities.
- The Southern Resident Killer Whale is listed as an endangered species under Canada's Species At Risk Act, and faces threats to recovery including reductions in the availability and quality of prey, physical and acoustic disturbance, and environmental contaminants.
- In October, the Government of Canada announced $7.2 million in funding to support the increased use of world-renowned digital hydrophone and oceanographic technologies which will benefit our coastal environment and will help us better understand the underwater acoustic environment and inform mitigation strategies to protect marine mammals, including killer whales.
- In August, we announced $388,000 in funding to the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority to support a Vessel Slowdown Trial in Haro Strait, B.C. — an important summer feeding area for the Southern Resident Killer Whale. The Government of Canada has been working closely with the Vancouver-Fraser Port Authority's Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) Program to conduct these studies and the results are being analyzed.
"Our Government is making significant investments into real tools to help our endangered whales. We look forward to continued collaboration with all sectors to protect and recover this iconic species."
-The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, P.C., Q.C., M.P., Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
- What We Heard – a summary of comments from the Symposium on Southern Resident Killer Whales
- Southern Resident Killer Whales (Backgrounder)
- Protecting our Coasts - Oceans Protection Plan
- Let's Talk – Oceans Protection Plan
- Killer Whale (Northeast Pacific, southern resident population)
- Vancouver Aquarium's PollutionTracker
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SOURCE Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Pacific Region
For further information: Media Relations: Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 613-990-7537, [email protected]; Vincent Hughes, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 613 992 3474, [email protected]