Transportation Minister Marc Garneau announced $167.4 million to support the recovery of three key whale species in Canada, particularly B.C.’s southern resident killer whale population.
“The whales need our help,” Garneau said. “We must act now because the whales can’t wait.”
For the orca population in the Salish Sea, in particular, the federal government is focusing on improving prey availability, reducing underwater vessel noise and better monitoring of pollution.
“It is a fragile species and doesn’t have a high reproduction rate … Our long-term objective is to see those [numbers] grow,” he said.
Some key recommendations include:
- Reducing the total fishery removal of Chinook salmon by 25 to 35 per cent.
- Closing fisheries where whales forage for food.
- Introducing a new mandatory requirement for all marine vessels — including recreational boats — to stay 200 metres away from killer whales starting July 11, 2018.
- Adding to the underwater hydrophone network to measure and track noise impacts of individual vessels.
The other two whale populations that will benefit from the initiative include the North Atlantic right whale and the St. Lawrence Estuary beluga.