Ecojustice Blog – Nature Posted on March 15, 2018 (updated: March 27, 2018)

Orca-strating a comeback for the Southern Resident killer whales

Margot VentonLawyer
Dyna TuytelLawyer
Three orcas surfacing, by Rachael Merrett/Georgia Strait Alliance
Photo by Rachael Merrett/Georgia Strait Alliance

After missing a deadline to recommend emergency protections for endangered orcas, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) say they want to talk. Here’s what we plan on telling them:

If it wants to protect endangered Southern Resident killer whales, the government must take urgent, enforceable action.

That is the message we will bring to the table when we meet with representatives from DFO, MOECC and Transport Canada on Monday (March 19).

With only 76 remaining members, this unique, salmon-eating population of killer whales is in crisis.

According to scientists, the most pressing threat to the Southern Residents is the lack of Chinook salmon, their preferred food source. Acoustic and physical disturbance from vessels also hurts the whales’ ability to hunt.

As a result, female Southern Residents are having trouble completing successful pregnancies, few calves are surviving to maturity, and adult whales are malnourished.

We told Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Dominic LeBlanc and Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna this when we sent them a petition urging them to recommend an emergency order under to protect the Southern Residents under the Species at Risk Act.

When the Ministers failed to make a decision about an emergency order by March 1 — the deadline we set in the petition —partners and we agreed to meet with officials to discuss measures to protect the orcas.

As we prepare for these discussions, we look forward to learning more about how officials propose to protect the Southern Residents. However, our position remains firm: We need an emergency order to give the Southern Residents the urgent and enforceable protections they need to survive.

How you can help #ProtectOrcas

Our call for an emergency order is part of our three-part plan to orca-strate a comeback for the Southern Residents.

In addition to calling on the government for emergency protections under SARA, we are:

You can help.

To support our three-part plan to protect orcas, Ecojustice donor JoAnne Bersohn has generously pledged to triple-match your gift, dollar-for-dollar, up to $5,000!

That means that if you make a gift by midnight on March 29, it will go three-times as far in supporting our three-part plan to orca-strate a Southern Resident comeback.

Donate today to help us push for an emergency order, continue the fight to shut down the Trans Mountain expansion, and keep wild salmon — and the endangered killer whales orcas who feed upon them — healthy for generations to come.


Update: As of March 27, we are 72 per cent of the way to meeting our goal. We need your help to close the gap.

Build the case for a better earth

Thanks to the support of people like you, Ecojustice goes to court to protect what we value most — the air, land and water that sustains all life. Make your gift today and support bold litigation for a brighter environmental future.

Join our newsletter

Get updates on the most pressing environmental issues delivered straight to your inbox.

Join our online community

Follow us on social media