Noise Monitoring won’t save the Orcas

Stephen Hazell, Director of Conservation and Legal Counsel.

The federal decision last week to monitor underwater ship noise in BC’s Salish Sea to aid the recovery of endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales recover is long-overdue.

The Southern Resident population was listed as endangered under the federal Species at Risk Act in 2003 but the plan to help them recover wasn’t finished until 2017.

Transport Canada will work with the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) program, which is looking at ways to reduce underwater noise in key areas for the whales. An underwater hydrophone will be installed at Boundary Pass in the Salish Sea to collect individual vessel and mammal noise profiles.  Transport Canada will also carry out a four-year project with support from the National Research Council of Canada to better predict propeller noise and hull vibration of a vessel. These measures will cost $1.6 million and are part of a $167.4-million federal Whales Initiative aimed at improving prey availability and reducing disturbance of the whales.

But underwater noise monitoring and modelling will clearly not be enough as the number of vessels navigating the Salish Sea increases.  Urgent and mandatory reduction in shipping traffic and noise among other measures are essential if the extirpation of the Southern Resident Orca population is to be avoided.

Add your voice to demand that the federal cabinet issue an Emergency Order under the Species at Risk Act to help the Southern Resident Orcas today!


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