December 29, 2021 Vancouver, BC Transport Canada
The Southern Resident killer whales is an endangered species that has deep cultural significance for Indigenous peoples and coastal communities in the Salish Sea area in southern British Columbia. This is why the Government of Canada is committed to taking continued and important action to support its survival and recovery.
Today, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Omar Alghabra, reminded Canadians that as part of the measures introduced by the Government of Canada earlier in 2021, vessels are still prohibited from approaching any killer whale within a 400-metre distance in British Columbia coastal waters between Campbell River and Ucluelet until May 31, 2022. Canada’s Marine Mammal Regulations, which require maintaining 200 metres away from killer whales off the coast of B.C., continue to apply year-round.
The 2021 Transport Canada measures resulted in many enforcement actions including the issuance of 11 administrative monetary penalties totalling $45,750. The limited number of repeat violations reflects a successful educational campaign for boaters during the year.
For the fifth year in a row, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) Program coordinated voluntary initiatives encouraging ships to slow down or stay distanced while transiting through Southern Resident killer whale foraging areas. Last year, these initiatives helped reduce underwater sound intensity by nearly 50% in these areas.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is addressing the food availability challenges by actively supporting salmon habitat restoration projects and focusing on rebuilding the Chinook salmon stock. In 2021, DFO released an additional 1 million hatchery Chinook from the Chilliwack River hatchery. The Government of Canada also took additional action this year to help develop new technologies and quiet vessel designs that reduce human-made underwater noise.
We will continue to work with marine, not-for-profit, and Indigenous partners in Canada, and with federal officials, state officials and non-government organizations in the United States to protect Southern Resident killer whales.