DFO declares Swiftsure and LaPerouse Banks critical habitats for killer whales

“When it comes to British Columbia’s killer whales, the world is certainly watching.”

West Coast fishers received some frightening news just before Christmas as Swiftsure and LaPerouse Banks were officially declared critical habitats for B.C.’s endangered southern resident killer whales, which could mean fisheries closures are coming.

READ MORE: Habitat protection widened for endangered killer whales off Vancouver Island

Canada’s Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada Jonathan Wilkinson made the announcement on Dec. 19.

“These new critical habitat orders build on existing critical habitat areas to help protect the habitat necessary for the survival and recovery of both southern resident and northern resident killer whales,” he said. “While these orders will prohibit the destruction of critical habitat caused by human activities, there is more work to do to determine how specific other activities on the water must be managed in order to achieve this.”

READ MORE: Ucluelet fears orca protection could shut down fisheries

He said DFO has identified three specific threats to killer whale populations: a lack of chinook salmon to eat, disturbances from vessels and environmental contaminants in the ocean.

READ MORE: Salmon populations “drastically declining” around Tofino and Ucluelet

That has led the federal government to reduce chinook harvesting levels in some areas and fisheries closures in others, while also moving vessel traffic away from foraging areas and funding new and upgraded sewage treatment facilities in Vancouver and Victoria.

READ MORE: Tofino pursues $40 million grant for sewage treatment

Both Tofino and Ucluelet’s chambers of commerce have been vocally leery of the critical habitat designation’s impact on the West Coast’s economy.

Wilkinson said DFO will work with communities and stakeholders to determine the specific measures that will be taken now that the critical habitats have been declared.

READ MORE: B.C. businesses concerned over potential economic loss if whale habitat extended

“Such measures could include additional restrictions on fisheries and the creation of whale sanctuaries, which would require additional restrictions on transportation and other sectors,” he said. “We will work to address concerns expressed by some coastal communities in particular regarding potential economic impacts of any proposed measures.”

READ MORE: Tofino and Ucluelet facing likely fishing closures in 2019

He added that “Canadians care very deeply about the fate of these majestic whales,” and that the new critical habitat designations would help their survival and recovery.

“I cannot overemphasize the point that protecting species at risk in this country is a shared responsibility of all Canadians,” he said. “When it comes to British Columbia’s killer whales, the world is certainly watching. Bold action is what these iconic mammals need to recover and bold action is what our government is taking.”

READ MORE: Federal government rejects emergency order to protect killer whales



andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

CARE column: Cold winter season terrifying for stray cats

Kittens Starsky and Hutch will have a warm foster home this winter.

Tofino’s top engineer leaves district amidst massive sewage treatment project

District office currently working through $60 million sewage treatment plant

VIDEO: Remembrance Day in Ucluelet

Town gathers at Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans Club for Remembrance Day ceremony.

Remembrance Day ceremonies in Tofino and Ucluelet

The Tofino Legion and Ucluelet Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans Club will host ceremonies today.

West Coast residents to decide on BC Transit service between Tofino and Ucluelet

Alberni Clayoquot Regional District must collect $550,000 a year from participating communities.

VIDEO: Disney Plus gives Canadians a streaming platform that nearly matches U.S. version

The Walt Disney Company’s new subscription platform unveiled a comprehensive offering of nearly 500 films

B.C.’s 13-cent gasoline gap still a mystery, Premier John Horgan says

NDP plans legislation this month, seeks action from Justin Trudeau

Former Vancouver Canucks player suing financial advisors for negligence

Jason Garrison claimed his advisors failed to take his circumstances into account

Group walking on thin ice at B.C. lake sparks warning from RCMP

At least seven people were spotted on Joffre Lakes, although the ice is not thick enough to be walked on

B.C. teacher said he would use student to ‘whack’ two others on Grade 8 field trip

Campbell River teacher-on-call suspended three weeks after November 2018 incident

Petition to ‘bring back Don Cherry’ goes viral after immigrant poppy rant

Cherry was fired from his co-hosting role for the Coach’s Corner segment on Nov. 11.

Bill Murray dons iconic Hudson’s Bay scarf to watch Canucks game in Vancouver

Murray is in Vancouver to film The Now, a mini-series directed by Peter Farrelly

Canadian allergists’ group wants Benadryl behind the counter due to side effects

Some doctors say the medication is over-used because of its easy availability

B.C. government grappling with multiple labour disputes by public-sector unions

Public-sector unions may have expectations of a labour-friendly NDP government

Most Read