A huge progressive step has been taken this month into conserving the Southern Resident Killer Whale populations in Canada.
In conjunction with WCA Partner Five Star Whale Watching and the Pacific Whale Watch Association, new restrictions are to put into place with the intention of raising awareness for Canada’s cetacean populations and conserving them for future generations to come.
As of June 1st 2020, all vessels in Canadian waters must remain at least 400m away from any known killer whale position, with the exception of government authorised whale watching and research boats. In addition to this, in the event of an orca encounter, a maximum speed limit of 7 knots has been introduced to minimise the possibility of ships striking the mammals. This speed limit is to be maintained until there are no orcas within a kilometre of the vessel.
Also, fishing restrictions have been implemented to conserve the populations of Chinook salmon in the area. The salmon are the primary prey for the resident orca and it is believed that by limiting anthropogenic interference on the fish stock will have a tremendous effect on the subsequent orca community. Furthermore, specific “sanctuaries” have been identified around the Gulf Islands. These areas are to become “No-go zones” between the months of June and November and have raised a lot of controversy as many experts believe they are incorrectly placed and will not have a significant effect on the number of orcas which reside within them.
On top of all this, the Canadian government is placing more trust and privileges into commercial whale watchers and encouraging ecotourism to continue educating the public in the importance of cetacean conservation.
“This announcement and the measures to protect the SRKW’s are welcome news for everyone that wants to see the SRKW’s recover. Five Star Whale Watching and other members of the Pacific Whale Watch Association were heavily involved in the formulation of these new measure to protect the SRKW’s. In particular we had been following the go slow rule of slowing to 7 knots or less at 1km away from all Whales and are happy to see this important rule adopted by Transport Canada and the Department of Fisheries & Oceans.”Andrew Lees, Five Star Whale Watching
Key Points at a glance:
- Vessels to slow down to 7 knots at 1000m of all Killer Whales.
- All vessels (except Authorized Whale Watching Vessels) must stay 400 m from all Killer Whales.
- Fishing restrictions.
- No Go Zones/Sanctuary’s – these are controversial and many experts believe they are in the wrong place, especially the ones near Saturna & Pender Island.
- More money & resources aimed at Chinook Salmon restoration – This is the most important action that can be taken to help SRKW’s recover.
- Education/outreach work, Be Whale Wise. – Five Star and other Whale Watching companies will be once again warning other vessels Whales are nearby by flying the Whale Warning Flag when in the proximity of Whales. The PWWA members also provide Whale sightings reports & data to numerous organizations.
For more information: http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/whales-baleines/srkw-measures-mesures-ers-eng.html