VANCOUVER – The federal government remains committed to protecting the endangered southern resident orca from small boats, but its fishery measures are not enough to ensure they have access to sufficient Chinook salmon for their diet.
The orca protection measures announced today confirm that sanctuary zones and the requirement for boats to stay 400 metres away from southern resident orcas will remain in place for at least another year. The 400-metre exclusion requirement now extends to a wider range of the orca habitat.
“We are happy to see continuing multi-year efforts to help southern resident orcas recover in the face of increasing threats,” said David Suzuki Foundation senior science and policy analyst Jeffery Young. “The boating measures will help create the space and quiet for them to hunt for Chinook salmon. Now, these measures need adequate monitoring and enforcement to make sure they are successful on the water as well as on paper.”
While the boating regulations are moving in the right direction, fisheries that can catch and kill endangered Chinook salmon are still permitted. These fisheries will further limit the availability of Chinook salmon, a critical food source for the endangered southern resident orca.
“With three new calves, ensuring a steady supply of nutrition is key to the survival of southern resident orcas,” Young said. “More must be done to restore Chinook populations to a level that will support the recovery of these orcas.”
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