Canadian Killer Whale Action Plan: Orcas Need Your Help Before August 14, 2016

Raincoast Conservation Foundation and the Georgia Strait Alliance both have this appeal on their websites and on social media. Both offer helpful background information and both offer assistance with writing a letter and an email.

Raincoast pointed out that an email gets more attention than a petition with multiple names so I did both – signed the petition and wrote an individual email. I hope you will do the same, and write your own email / letter.

I used Raincoast’s foundation letter as a guide and personalized it:

Date: Wed, Jul 27, 2016 at 9:41 PM
Subject: Killer Whale Recovery Plan

Attention SARA and the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard:

A West Coast resident’s expectations regarding the Killer Whale (orca) Action Plan:

1. I have read a couple of these now and there is usually little action involved apart from “more study”. It’s obviously long past time for more impactful action than that. An Action Plan that is specific to the 83 endangered Southern Resident orcas in J, K and L pods is required. The proposed Action Plan treats the  Southern and (200 + ) Northern Residents as one population, when they live in very different areas of the coast with very different challenges.

2.  An adequate food supply must be ensured. Low abundance of Chinook (Spring) salmon means orcas are not getting enough to eat, resulting in their birthrates dropping, and mortality increasing. More Chinook for whales will require closing commercial and recreational Chinook fisheries, and allowing these salmon runs to rebuild.

3.  Boats that closely follow resident killer whales hinder their ability to successfully catch salmon and create ongoing stress. Southern Resident orcas are within 400m of a vessel most of the time during daylight hours from May to September.  Regulations requiring the approach distance to be increased from 100m to at least 200m are urgently needed (matching US regulations), as well as regulations as limiting boat numbers, and/or constraining the viewing times and/or days when boats follow whales are also urgently needed.  To state the obvious, such regulations also require enforcement.

4.  Growing noise levels from ship traffic in the Salish Sea drastically interfere with  hunting, feeding  and communication. Until a Cumulative Effects Assessment is undertaken, and a noise budget completed, no Salish Sea shipping expansions (ergo, increased noise) can be approved.

5.  Funding to monitor and enforce regulations for endangered killer whales must be established.

The 5 above actions are immediate priorities. As well,  longer-term ongoing action that must also start now is needed to address marine pollutants, to create commitments to marine protected areas, to amend the marine mammal regulations, to identify Salish Sea killer whale sanctuaries, and to reduce ship noise.

I look forward to seeing a commitment to action. Don’t let the 83 SRKWs go extinct on your watch.

Diane McNally
Victoria Orca Festival Society
Victoria BC