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

Tofino approves 48% tax increase over next five years

Tofino’s municipal council officially adopted its new five-year financial plan last week.

Hundreds call for a clean energy future at Hands Across the Sand event in Tofino

Surfrider Pacific Rim and Friends of Clayoquot Sound team up to host the peaceful gathering

Ucluelet police promote Crime Stoppers

“Ucluelet is a young family town and we’d like to keep it that way.”

Water restrictions hit Tofino

“The more that we can do to conserve water, the more risk is reduced.”

Tofino athletes Devries, Olin selected for Surf Canada Olympic pathway team

“We’ve got a lot of work to do before any of us qualify for the Olympics.”

600 new campsites coming to provincial parks and recreation sites across B.C.

Tourism Minister announced half of the new spots to 13 most popular provincial parks

Raptors beat Bucks 105-99 to move within 1 game of NBA Finals

Leonard scores 35 as Toronto takes 3-2 series lead over Milwaukee

B.C. Supreme Court dismisses review around ferry workers’ right to strike

B.C. Ferry and Marine Workers’ Union collective agreement expires November 2020

Municipalities protest after B.C. declares marijuana crops ‘farm use’

UBCM president seeks answers in letter to John Horgan government

CMHC defends mortgage stress test changes amid calls for loosening rules

Uninsured borrowers must now show they could service their mortgage if rates rose two per cent

B.C. woman left ‘black and blue’ after being pushed off 40-foot cliff at lake

West Shore RCMP looking for witnesses as investigation continues

Thunderstorms to bring heavy rain, risk of flash floods in the southern Interior

Ten to 30 millimetres of rain to fall over the early weekend

Unbe-leaf-able: Agassiz man finds more than 200 four-leaf clovers in a month

Walt Hardinge has found more than 219 four-or-more leaf clovers this spring alone

Crews fight fire with fire to keep blaze from northern Alberta town

The wildfire now covers some 920 square kilometres

Most Read