Photo: Center for Whale Research

Your call to Minister Wilkinson could help save starving Salish Sea orcas

If an orca mother’s prolonged public display of grief and the imminent death of a young female orca don’t inspire action, what will?

Salish Sea orcas are in crisis, and new Fisheries and Oceans Minister Jonathan Wilkinson needs to take action. An emergency situation deserves an emergency response.

The federal government acknowledged in May that this killer whale population faces “imminent threats to its survival”.

We’re asking the minister to close all chinook fishing and expand foraging refuges to cover critical habitat, and to prohibit fisheries until the end of October. Recovery plans are needed for the orcas’ food source, chinook salmon. Whale-watching operations and private vessels must also be prevented from targeting these critically endangered whales.

Call the minister now. It’s time to speak up for these whales.

Phone now

Talking points

  • Tell Minister Wilkinson who you are and share a bit about yourself (e.g., a mother, concerned citizen, scientist, immigrant, Indigenous person, voter, etc.).
  • Congratulate Minister Wilkinson on his recent appointment as Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard.
  • Tell them you’re hoping their first move as minister will be to act with urgency to protect the 74 remaining southern resident killer whales. They are showing signs of starvation.
  • Commend them for closing some chinook fisheries, but ask that they go further and close all chinook fishing.
  • Explain that foraging refuges are helping but need to be extended to cover the whales’ critical habitat and must be closed to all fisheries until the end of October.
  • Explain that chinook recovery plans are essential.
  • Ask them to restrict all whale-watching and private vessels from targeting these critically endangered whales.
  • Identify that the federal government acknowledged in May that this killer whale population faces “imminent threats to its survival,” yet we’re continuing to see heartbreaking scenes of starvation and deaths.
  • Tell them that an emergency situation warrants an emergency response. Explain that we’ve only seen partial and inadequate voluntary measures that don’t ensure recovery of either the whales or their main prey, chinook salmon.
  • Explain that as we’ve seen with right whales on the East Coast, bold actions by multiple sectors can turn the tide on extinction.
  • Leave the Minister your name and phone number and ask them to reply to confirm whether they will commit to immediate actions to save Salish Sea orcas.
  • Thank them for their time and tell them you look forward to seeing their response to this emergency situation.

Tips for the call

  • Use a headset or hands-free. This will give you both hands to take notes about what was said.
  • Be polite but firm — MPs are our elected representatives. They will likely be happy to hear from engaged constituents. Be polite and direct. Make sure to ask for a response.