Tuesday, June 26, 2007

DFO Resident Killer Whale Recovery Strategies

Two distinct populations of killer whales (Orcinus orca), known as the northern and southern residents, occupy the waters off the west coast of British Columbia. In 2001, COSEWIC designated southern resident killer whales as ‘endangered’, and northern resident killer whales as ‘threatened’. Both populations are listed in Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA). These two populations are acoustically, genetically and culturally distinct. Resident killer whale populations in British Columbia are presently considered to be at risk because of their small population size, low reproductive rate, and the existence of a variety of anthropogenic threats that have the potential to prevent recovery or to cause further declines. Principal among these anthropogenic threats are environmental contamination, reductions in the availability or quality of prey, and both physical and acoustic disturbance. Even under the most optimistic scenario (human activities do not increase mortality or decrease reproduction), the species’ low intrinsic growth rate means that the time frame for recovery will be more than one generation (25 years).

Consultation period: 2007-6-21 to 2007-8-20

PDF - Recovery Strategy for the Northern and Southern Resident Killer Whales (Orcinus orca) in Canada (Proposed)

Text -Recovery Strategy for the Northern and Southern Resident Killer Whales (Orcinus orca) in Canada (Proposed)


1 comment:

aquagreen said...

British Columbian environmental groups called off plans to sue the Canadian government after it released a recovery strategy for killer whales Tuesday, about a year later than originally planned. The Canadian plan calls for ensuring that resident killer whales in Puget Sound and off Vancouver Island have an adequate and accessible food supply, reducing chemical and biological pollution, keeping human activities from disturbing the orcas and protecting their critical habitat. The report promises more specifics within two years of the Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans accepting the plan. Canadian environmental groups praised the strategy for identifying specific whale habitat that needs protection. "Without this important part of the strategy, the future of the species would have truly been in doubt," said Christianne Wilhelmson of Georgia Strait Alliance. She said action can now be taken to address pollution, noise and human interference in identified whale habitats. The Canadian strategy covers Puget Sound's southern resident orcas as well as threatened killer whales that spend most of their time north of Vancouver Island. The U.S. government issued its own killer whale recovery plan in November 2006, after listing Puget Sound's resident killer whale population as an endangered species in November 2005. The U.S. plan focuses on supporting salmon restoration, cleaning contaminated sites in Puget Sound, reducing pollution, evaluating and improving guidelines for vessel traffic in and around protected areas, preventing oil spills, and improving response plans should spills occur. The National Marine Fisheries Service also designated critical habitat for the orcas: an area covering about 2,500 square miles, encompassing part of Haro Strait and the waters around the San Juan Islands, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and all of Puget Sound.