An orca calf swims alongside its mother. (Jared Towers)

Feds limit chinook fishery to help killer whale recovery

Chinook is main food source for only 76 southern residents killer whales left

The federal government is closing some recreational and commercial chinook fisheries on the West Coast in an effort to help save endangered southern resident killer whales.

Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc says a lack of prey for the whales is one of the critical factors affecting their recovery.

Southern residents inhabit the waters from south and central Vancouver Island all the way to northern California where they hunt for the salmon.

There are just 76 of the whales left and LeBlanc says in a news release that a reduction in the total chinook fishery of 25 to 35 per cent will help conserve the orca’s main food source.

A department news release says the closures would be in the Juan de Fuca Strait and around portions of the Gulf Islands.

There will also be partial closures at the mouth of the Fraser River to protect key foraging areas for the whales.

READ MORE: No fish zones eyed to save killer whales along south coast

The government announced that over $9.5 million will be spent on eight projects across B.C. to help restore chinook salmon habitat.

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says the species faces imminent threats to its survival and recovery, and the government needs to take concrete action.

“These iconic and awe-inspiring whales are cherished by Canadians across the country and visitors alike, and protecting them is essential to keeping our oceans healthy and dynamic — not just for today, but to ensure we leave a rich natural legacy to our kids and grandkids,” she said.

The population, which is made up of three separate pods, was diminished significantly in the 1960s and ’70s when about 47 of the whales were captured and relocated to aquariums. Previous studies have found that acoustic and physical disturbances, along with pollution also play a role in threatening the population.

The Fisheries Department says the whales are listed as an endangered species in both Canada and the United States.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Ucluelet fears orca protection could shut down fisheries

“I beg you to start a process to put a stick in the wheels and slow these people down.”

Ucluelet mayor thanks team at last meeting

Dianne St. Jacques is not running for re-election this month.

VIDEO: This is what buying legal pot in B.C. looks like

Take a look inside B.C.’s first and only legal pot shop located in Kamloops

10 things still illegal in the new age of recreational cannabis

Pot is legal – but there are still a lot of rules, and breaking some could leave you in jail

‘Police are ready’ for legal pot, say Canadian chiefs

But Canadians won’t see major policing changes as pot becomes legal

B.C. NDP retreats again on empty-home tax for urban areas

Rate reduced for all Canadians, dissident mayors to get annual meeting

Two B.C. cannabis dispensaries raided on legalization day

Port Alberni dispensaries ticketed for “unlawful sale” of cannabis

Canada not sending anyone to Saudi business summit

Sources insist Ottawa never intended to dispatch a delegation this time around

Earthquake early-warning sensors installed off coast of B.C.

The first-of-its kind warning sensors are developed by Ocean Networks Canada

VPD ordered to co-operate with B.C. police watchdog probe

According to the IIO, a court is ordering Vancouver police to co-operate with an investigation into a fatal shooting

B.C. woman looks to reduce stigma surrounding weed-smoking moms

Shannon Chiarenza, a Vancouver mom of two, started weedmama.ca to act as a guide for newcomers to legal cannabis, specifically mothers

B.C. teen gives away tickets to Ellen Degeneres show, plans O Canada welcome

The Grade 9 student wanted to give away tickets in the spirit of inclusivity

Canada’s top general takes aim at new reports of military sexual assault

Gen. Jonathan Vance is unhappy some troops continue to ignore his order to cease all sexual misconduct

Most Read