An endangered whale population along B.C.’s coastline will receive a boost from the federal government following the announcement of Canada’s Whales Initiative on June 22.
Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau was in Vancouver where he announced $167.4 million under the initiative to help protect the recovery of three whale species, the southern resident killer whale, the North Atlantic right whale and the St. Lawrence Estuary beluga.
A press statement highlights B.C.’s southern resident killer whale — whose habitat extends from the southeastern Alaska to California central California — as a species whose survival is under imminent threat due to lack of prey, underwater noise and contaminants in their environment. It is estimated that there are approximately 76 remaining in its population.
Some of the measures suggested to address these issues include reducing the fishery removal for Chinook salmon be 25-35 per cent to increase availability of the whale’s food source, moving marine vessels away from key foraging grounds and at least 200 metres away from killer whales, and working with BC Ferries to reduce underwater noise that has negative impacts on killer whales.
“I am encouraged by how the Government of Canada and its partners have come together to help protect and recover Canada’s endangered whales,” said Garneau in the statement. “With more eyes in the sky and ears in the water, the southern resident killer whale will get additional protection as we work together to reduce threats.”