Photo: Center for Whale Research

Demand emergency order for Salish Sea orcas

Salish Sea orcas face threats that imperil their ability to survive, but the time for action is running out.

Just 76 Salish Sea orcas (a.k.a. southern resident killer whales) remain in Pacific West Coast waters near Vancouver and around Washington State’s San Juan Islands and B.C.’s Gulf Islands. This is the orca’s lowest population in more than three decades, with no surviving calves having been born since 2015.

The David Suzuki Foundation is joining other conservation groups to call for an emergency order for the orcas. This would compel the government to take immediate actions to meet its obligations to the whales.

An emergency order is a little-used tool under the federal legislation protecting Canada’s endangered wildlife. The orders have been effective in rebuilding wildlife populations. The ministers responsible can recommend an emergency order for a species if they believe it is facing imminent threats to its survival or recovery. Cabinet can then make the order.

The government would be required to take immediate actions like limiting recreational and commercial fisheries, creating feeding refuges for the whales, restricting chinook fisheries and introducing speed limits for large commercial vessels transiting by key foraging areas.

Now is the time to take decisive and immediate action to save these whales. Send a letter to Fisheries and Oceans Minister Dominic LeBlanc, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna and your MP to recommend an emergency order before it’s too late. For even more impact, include a personal message about your connection to the whales.

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