This page has become an archive of relevant and important documents on the subject of Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW) and Pinnipeds. We update this page periodically, add as new details become available and will retain a chronological order for additions.
May 2022 – Read Associate Professor, UBC, Dr. Murdoch McAllister’s recent remarks in Pinnipeds – Benign Wildlife or Impactful Predators published in the May 2022 UFAWU Bulletin.
May 5, 2022 – Southern Resident Killer Whale 2022 Mangaement Measures Announced
SFI Member Update – May 6, 2022
2022 SRKW MANAGEMENT MEASURES ANNOUNCED
The 2022 SRKW management measures were announced Friday of last week and can be found at this link. These measures represent significant gains, maintenance of, or moderate losses in fishing opportunity dependent on the area on the south coast.
While static closures continue to be a component of DFO measures, the SFI does not support the approach as a means to protect a highly migratory and fast moving species like Killer Whales or their access to an equally migratory prey, salmon. The use of static closures or sanctuaries\no go zones will not provide any measurable protection to SRKW and limits the scope and area that protections are provided to the whales when they are in our waters. Although static closures and sancturaries continue to be implemented it would be more effective if there were presence or no presence triggers that could be applied to close and open areas so that activities in and around these zones could take place at times when whales are not present. In addition to the highly moveable and migratory habits of thier prey, there is increasing evidence that the habits of SRKW and other whales are changing and adapting. To have rigid parameters on confined area closures is ineffective for the whales.
The idea that prey availability is a limiting factor in the ability for SRKW to increase their population levels has been debunked by many recent studies released by UBC, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and DFO scientists. These studies indicate that the abundance of Chinook when and where the SRKW are feeding in the Salish Sea, which includes the Straits of Juan de Fuca and Georgia, is significantly more than enough to support SRKW while they are in the area. Rather than prey availability restrictions by area or activity, we hope to see prey accessibility aided through use of mobile avoidance zones at the appropriate distances, currently 400m, to minimize distractions due to noise or proximity. The mobile avoidance zones are an effective tool that provides protection from competition for prey (aka prey accessibility) and physical disturbance wherever the whales are. It is the use of this strategy and changing habits of the whales that is likely responsible for any gains towards recovery and growth.
LOCAL AND TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGE HELPING WHALES AND COMMUNITIES
In the south western portion of BC’s SRKW habitat, notably Juan de Fuca Strait and the Port Renfrew area, the 2022 measures reflect the value and efficacy of the SFAB in bringing together community voices and interests, including collaboration with local indigenous communities, to provide a local perspective at well attended and organized public meetings. We offer our thanks to DFO for respecting the local SFAB process and considering the advice provided at those sessions, to the SFAB representatives who advocated for those local processes to occur with senior levels in DFO, and to those who co-chaired the sessions.
Southern Gulf Islands and the mouth of the Fraser River are locations where more research is needed to identify both how much and when the SRKW use these areas for foraging and before new management measures are added or created that may or may not have a positive effect. As example, large portions of Pacifc Fishery Management Areas (PFMA) 20-3 and 20-4 were closed on the basis that it was believed that they were important foraging areas only to find that those beliefs did not stand up to scientific scrutiny. It is frustrating and damaging to perception and sustainable opportunity that DFO continues to implement optical solutions that are designed to placate vocal interests. These window dressing solutions have the potential to harm local residents and businesses unecessarily yet do not benefit the whales.
We look forward to continuing to participate in consultation regarding SRKW in the hopes that good science, common sense and respect for local input can prevail over optics in efforts to effectively and meaningfully improve the circumstances for whales on our coast.
February 28, 2022 – SRKW FISHERY MANAGEMENT MEASURES UPDATE AND SURVEY
SFAB participants in DFO and Transport Canada Technical Working Groups formed to discuss development of SRKW managemenent measures explained that it was critically important that communities and stakeholders in each of the areas where changes or proposals are being considered were properly consulted. As a result and in response to that request a series of meetings coordinated by the DFO SRKW team have taken place in recent weeks.
DFO has also made a survey available for anyone interested in the subject to learn more and to provide feedback. If you choose to participate in this SRKW survey we encourage you to review the materials below, gathered feedback from SFAB and local community representatives regarding each of the area proposals.
Deadline for respondents to complete the survey is March 2, 2022.
You will note:
Included in this update are the local SFAC input provided to DFO for reference, we summarize those by Area as follows:
Area 20/121 SFAC (Port Renfrew): More Info
Area 19 SFAC (Victoria/Sooke): More Info
Area 18 SFAC (Gulf Islands): More Info
Area 29 SFAC (Fraser River Mouth): More Info
Vancouver Island Chambers of Commerce:
The SFAB encourages participants to complete the survey particularly if they are able to share local knowledge and expertise.
Authors: Mei Sato, Andrew W. Trites, and Stéphane Gauthier
The decline of southern resident killer whales (Orcinus orca) may be due to a shortage of prey, but there is little data to test this hypothesis. We compared the availability of prey (Chinook salmon, Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) sought by southern residents in Juan de Fuca Strait during summer with the abundance and distribution of Chinook available to the much larger and growing population of northern resident killer whales feeding in Johnstone Strait. We used ship-based multifrequency echosounders to identify differences in prey fields that may explain the dynamics of these two killer whale populations. Contrary to expectations, we found that both killer whale habitats had patchy distributions of prey that did not differ in their frequencies of occurrence, nor in the size compositions of individual fish. However, the density of fish within each patch was 4–6 times higher in the southern resident killer whale habitat. These findings do not support the hypothesis that southern resident killer whales are experiencing a prey shortage in the Salish Sea during summer and suggest a combination of other factors is affecting overall foraging success.
November 6, 2020 – Dr. Carl Walters – Role of marine mammal predation in recent B.C. fishery collapse
Emeritus Professor Carl Walters presented an online seminar on September 22, 2020 and at the SFI Policy Conference Webinar on November 6 on the Role of marine mammal predation in recent B.C. fishery collapses. A copy of the presentation in PDF is linked here.
Related and relevant to Dr. Walters remarks, a Times Colonist article recently detailed specific challenges with sea lions in Cowichan Bay:
Sea lions throw a party on Cowichan Bay’s federal breakwater to feast on spawning salmon – Carla Wilson, Times Colonist, November 12, 2020
July 21, 2020 – 2020 Management Measures to Protect Southern Resident Killer Whales
Regarding the Government of Canada’s 2020 Management Measures to Protect Southern Resident Killer Whales, several outreach and education products have been made available by joint efforts of Transport Canada, Fisheries & Oceans Canada, Parks Canada, Environment & Climate Change Canada. These materials are made available here and provide information on this 2020 management measures and are intended to increase awareness of the rules.
Outreach and education materials with as many individuals and groups as possible will raise public awareness and increase the number of boaters/vessel operators and fishers who understand their responsibilities on the water. Combined efforts will help increase compliance on the water and support the recovery of the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale.
Please note, from August 1 to October 31, 2020, there will be no recreational or commercial salmon fishing allowed in Southern Resident Killer Whale key foraging (feeding) areas found in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Gulf Islands (located within Southern Resident Killer Whale critical habitat).
Be Whale Wise is a partnership between Canadian and U.S. organizations and agencies and the material provides information on rules and guidelines for boating around marine mammals and birds in both Canadian and U.S. waters.
Additional information can be found:
June 1, 2020
A reminder that as of June 1, 2020, Transport Canada’s Interim Order for the Protection of Killer Whale (Orcinus orca) in the Waters of Southern British Columbia, 2020 is in effect including:
Interim Sanctuary Zones (June 1 – November 30)
Fisheries Management Measure
Best practices to Be Whale Wise
ECHO Program (http://www.portvancouver.com/echo) large commercial vessel measures
Strait of Juan de Fuca voluntary inshore lateral displacement (June 1 – October 31)
April 1, 2020
West Coast salmon fisheries catch a small share, leaving prey for Southern Residents.
Mobile avoidance sanctuaries, chinook enhancement, specific predator control and habitat rehabilitation can help both SRKW recover and for coastal communities to thrive. Watch the Coastal Alliance and SFI clip above and visit SRKW.org for more information.
WHALES INITIATIVE: PROTECTING SOUTHERN RESIDENT KILLER WHALES – INFORMATION BROCHURE
May 2019 – The Government of Canada (GOC) has taken steps to protect and recover the SRKW population. There is recognition that SRKW face imminent threats to their survival and recovery and that immediate action is required.
On May 10, the GOC announced 2019 SRKW recovery measures. New measures for vessels to follow include:
Effective June 1 – October 31, 2019:
Effective August 1 – October 31, 2019:
Other actions to take while SRKW are present in BC waters in greater numbers:
The GOC is seeking help to get information on these measures out to those who are operating vessels in the area.
For more information on the 2019 measures please follow these links:
Protecting species at risk is a responsibility shared by all Canadians and the federal government is committed to working with Indigenous people, provincial and territorial governments, and relevant industry stakeholders to achieve this goal.
SOUTHERN AND NORTHERN RESIDENT KILLER WHALES
Discussion and research continues on the subject of Southern Resident Killer Whales. Of note and interest, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife recently published findings regarding prey availability for SRKW in Juan De Fuca Strait. Findings are relevant to our waters and can be read here: Fishery Effects on SRKW – Jan28, 2019
The Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans Canada was tasked to study the Situation of Endangered Whales and provide a report – December 2018.
The Standing committee heard from many witness over the fall of 2018 regarding whales, SRKW, Beluga and Right Whales, in Canadian waters. Owen Bird and Martin Paish, SFI, appeared in Ottawa on October 30 and provided comments about SRKW and consultation to date. The linked report provides recommendations including ensuring that socio-economic information is gathered and properly considered, that local and traditional knowledge is incorporated in findings, that enhancement of Chinook stocks be initiated and specific predator control plans be developed and implemented.
2018 Annual BC Marine Mammal Symposium – linked below and here
November 2018 – The Truth about Orcas, Seals and Chinook: A PSF Presentation Scientists Dr. Brian Riddell and Dr. Andrew Trites address how we got here and what needs to be done in a presentation hosted by the Pacific Salmon Foundation.
September 17, 2018 – An SFI member update including details about upcoming information sessions and suggestions for developing a response to discussions regarding establishment of Critical Habitat areas. And, find some relevant links and documents about Southern and Northern Killer Whales at the bottom of the page and as follows:
There has been discussion about the health of Southern Resident Killer Whales over many years, a symposium in the fall of 2017 and associated comments by the Fisheries Minister at the time, the Honourable Dominic Leblanc, signaled an interest and a call to action by government to make changes to the circumstances and environment that SRKW currently find themselves.
While the approach to Southern Resident Killer Whale recovery efforts will likely be multi-faceted there would seem little doubt that the recreational sector needs to be aware of the issue and prepared to modify activities so that we can be a part of the recovery of these magnificent animals. While scientific studies agree that ceasing harvest will not provide the desired increase in abundance of Chinook salmon for SRKW, there is evidence that increasing production of chinook salmon and addressing marine noise and disturbances should help. Reduction of marine noise can be affected immediately by reducing speeds and agreeing to leave a wide corridor around moving Killer Whales. Increasing numbers of Chinook salmon, Killer Whales preferred food, can take place relatively quickly and can be augmented and enhanced through use of ocean pens to temporarily hold and feed juvenile Chinook. The survival rates of juvenile salmon held even for a month in an ocean pen is as much as 10 times higher, from 3% to as high as 30%, than that of fry or smolt entering the ocean directly from estuarine or river environments. A combination of reduced interaction or interference with the whales as they try to feed and forage and a concerted effort to increase production of Chinook salmon generally and particularly using ocean net pens to briefly hold and feed juveniles would by, many accounts, go a long way to aiding in the recovery of these fantastic animals.
We will dedicate this space to provide updates and links to important and relevant information on the subject.
The Effects of Salmon Fisheries on SRKW – Final Report of the Independent Science Panel prepared for NOAA and DFO
Competing Tradeoffs – Marine Mammal Predation and Fisheries Harvest of Chinook Salmon – Nature.com Scientific Reports
Seals and Sea Lions may be slowing salmon recovery, hurting Orcas – Christopher Dunagan, Puget Sound Institute
Be Whale Wise – a promotional effort and website aimed at spreading the word to Pacific Northwest residents about the regulations that govern human-whale interaction.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada – Ecosystems and Ocean Science Documents:
Link to the Species at Risk Public Registry documents: Action Plan for the Northern and Southern Resident Killer Whale (Orcinus orca) in Canada
SRKW Prey Workshop 2018 – Availability of Prey for Southern Resident Killer Whales
SFAB SRKW Committee Report to the SFAB: A summary of special SFAC meetings in early 2018 and a motion regarding proposed measures – April 14, 2018
External review of the critical habitat section of the draft amended recovery strategy for the Northern and Southern Resident Killer Whales in Canada – Consultation period June 12 – July 11, 2018
September 5, 2018 Lawsuit launched to protect southern resident orca – Audio link to CBC Radio with Dr. Andrew Trites
Minister fires back at groups for suing over killer whales – Times Colonist – September 9, 2018
Additional and Relevant Documents – regarding salmon and pinnipeds
Island Marine Aquatic Working Group – Diagram of competing tradeoffs
2018 Annual BC Marine Mammal Symposium
Sign up for our newsletter: