Ecojustice Blog – Nature Posted on January 31, 2018 (updated: November 13, 2018)

Act now to protect Southern Resident killer whales

Dyna TuytelLawyer
Margot VentonLawyer
Southern Resident killer whale
Photo by Ingrid Taylar, via Flickr.

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On Nov. 2, 2018, the federal government announced that it would not be issuing an emergency order to protect endangered Southern Resident killer whales, refusing to implement a recommendation from the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

Ecojustice issued the following statement in response:

Thank you for taking action to protect the Southern Residents. Together with its partners, Ecojustice remains committed to using the power of the law to defend this population of whales, and species at risk across Canada.

Killer whales are a keystone species. Let’s make sure they are protected.

Southern Resident killer whales are vital to the health of our oceans, and an invaluable part of our cultures.

But unless we act now, we risk losing this genetically and culturally distinct population of orcas forever.

In the Salish Sea — a region that includes the Juan de Fuca Strait, Georgia Strait, and Puget Sound — Southern Resident killer whales face a deluge of threats to their survival. Stocks of Chinook salmon, their preferred food source, are dwindling. And physical and acoustic disturbance, caused by vessel traffic, further limit their ability to communicate with each other and hunt for food.

On behalf of five other organizations — Raincoast Conservation Foundation, Georgia Strait Alliance, David Suzuki Foundation, World Wildlife Fund, and Natural Resources Defense Council — we called on Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Dominic LeBlanc and Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna to respond to this crisis by recommending an emergency order under the Species at Risk Act.

Now, it is your turn. Send a letter to Minister LeBlanc and Minister McKenna, asking them to take steps to protect Southern Resident killer whales.

We know that emergency orders can be a lifeline for a species in crisis. In 2012, we went to court to secure Canada’s first-ever emergency order for the greater sage-grouse. Since then, populations of this prairie-dwelling bird have grown exponentially.

We hope that another emergency order could help restore the Southern Resident killer whale population – which is now down to a perilous 76 members.

Southern Resident killer whales are in crisis. In such a small population, every mortality is significant.

Plainly speaking, we need to act now if we want to save these incredible animals.

Please, send your letter to the Ministers today.

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