MIL-OSI Translation: Government of Canada presents 2024 measures to protect Southern Resident Killer Whales

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MIL OSI Translation. Canadian French to English –

Source: Government of Canada – in French 1

The Government of Canada recognizes that the Southern Resident Killer Whale faces imminent dangers that threaten its survival, and that the protection of this symbolic marine mammal requires comprehensive and immediate action. Our measures aim to combat the three main threats facing Southern Resident Killer Whales: acoustic and physical disturbance, availability and accessibility of prey, and contaminants.

Acoustic and physical disturbances produced by ships

All vessels, including commercial vessels, pleasure craft and whale watching vessels, have an important role to play in reducing acoustic and physical disturbance. For the sixth consecutive year, Transport Canada is implementing expanded measures targeting ship operators.

Vessels must maintain a distance of at least 400 meters and must not obstruct the path of Southern Resident Killer Whales throughout the year in the coastal waters of southern British Columbia between the Campbell River and the part just north of Ucluelet. Given their expertise in identifying different types of killer whales, commercial whale watching and ecotourism companies that obtain authorization from the Minister of Transport will be able to observe killer whales that are not Southern Resident Killer Whales (such as the transient killer whale, also called Biggs’ killer whale) at a distance of 200 meters. This provision does not apply to the Southern Resident Killer Whale population.

If a vessel comes within 400 meters of a killer whale, it is asked to turn off its echo sounders and fish finders, and put the engine in neutral when it is safe to do so, to allow the killer whale to pass.

If a vessel comes within 1,000 meters of a killer whale, it is asked to reduce its speed to less than seven knots when it is safe to do so to reduce engine noise and the vessel’s wake.

The 2024 measures maintain mandatory speed limit zones near Swiftsure Bank, developed in collaboration with the Pacheedaht First Nation. All vessels must slow down to a maximum of 10 knots when in these areas.

From June 1 to November 30, 2024, all vessels must slow down to a maximum of 10 knots in two speed restriction zones near Swiftsure Bank. The first is within Protected Fisheries Management Zone 121-1, and the second speed restriction zone is located near the mouth of the Nitinat River, from Carmanah Point to longitude 125 degrees west. Exemptions are in place for the following: vessels in distress or providing assistance to a vessel or person in distress; ships that avoid immediate or unforeseen danger; a public servant or law enforcement agent in the course of his or her official activities; authorized search, if the search requires a higher speed; a sailboat that sails and is not powered by a motor. Although the mandatory speed limit zones and voluntary slowdowns coordinated by the ECHO program both cover known catchment areas on or near Swiftsure Bank, they are separate measures that are implemented works in different locations. The slowdown planned in the ECHO program at Swiftsure Bank is a voluntary slowdown of vessels which is applied on the entry and exit shipping lanes of Swiftsure Bank, a total distance of 23 nautical miles.

Temporary refuge areas

Interim refuge areas create temporary refuges for whales, pending further research on a longer-term approach. The location of these areas is based on scientific knowledge about feeding areas that have historically been important to the Southern Resident Killer Whale.

From June 1 to November 30, 2024, no vessel traffic or fishing activity will be permitted in the temporary refuge areas off the southwest coast of South Pender Island and at the southeastern tip of the island. Saturna Island. Exceptions will be allowed for emergency situations and Indigenous fishing vessels when fishing is conducted for food, social and ceremonial purposes. To ensure the safety of people using human-powered boats, a 20-meter corridor near the shore will allow kayakers and other paddlers to pass through these areas. If a killer whale is in the refuge at the time, paddlers must stay 400 meters from the killer whale.

Voluntary speed reduction zone

New for the 2024 season, Transport Canada is implementing a voluntary speed reduction zone in the Tumbo Canal, in effect from June 1 to November 30, 2024. When vessels are traveling in this zone, it is recommended that they reduce their speed. speed to 10 knots, when it is safe to do so.

Prey availability

Chinook salmon, chum salmon, and coho salmon form an essential part of the diet of Southern Resident Killer Whales. To address the limited availability of this prey, Fisheries and Oceans Canada ensures a combination of fishing restrictions in the main foraging areas of their critical habitat, as well as voluntary coast-wide measures. These measures will reduce disturbance and competition for salmon between fishermen and killer whales. Opportunities will be provided for recreational and commercial non-salmon fishing, ceremonial, social and Indigenous food harvesting, and access to treaty fishing. The following measures will help protect killer whale access to salmon and minimize disruption to key feeding areas: Extension of area closure periods in key Southern Resident Killer Whale feeding areas for fishing recreational and commercial salmon fishing around the Strait of Juan de Fuca (revised closure in part of Subarea 20-5 and new closure in part of Subarea 20-4). These closure periods will be in place from August 1 to October 31 for the years 2024 and 2025. As in 2023, closure periods by sector for recreational and commercial salmon fishing will be put in place in the main feeding areas of The southern resident killer whale on Swiftsure Bank (parts of subareas 20-1, 21-0, 121-1 and 121-2) from July 15 to October 31 for 2024 and 2025, and around the mouth of the Fraser River (part of subarea 29-3) from August 1 to September 30 for 2024 and 2025. Closure periods by area in the southern Gulf Islands (subareas 18 to 9 and parts 18-2 , 18-4 and 18-5) for commercial and recreational salmon fisheries are in force from May 8 to November 30, 2024 for commercial and recreational salmon fisheries after the first confirmed presence of Southern Resident Killer Whales in the area in 2024. For 2025, the southern Gulf Islands will be monitored for Southern Resident Killer Whales beginning May 1, and when their presence is first confirmed in the area, fishing closures will come into effect and remain in effect. place until November 30, 2025. All fishermen are invited to temporarily cease their fishing activities (p. (e.g., not pulling up their nets) when killer whales are less than 1,000 meters away. This voluntary measure is in effect all year round in Canadian Pacific waters. For the fifth and final year, Fisheries and Oceans Canada plans to increase the number of Chinook salmon released into the Chilliwack River from one million to two million during the fall run of this species, to support availability prey in Southern Resident Killer Whale habitat. Ongoing work will be conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of increasing hatchery production of Chinook salmon as part of the recovery of Southern Resident Killer Whales.

Program for Improvement of Cetacean Observation and Habitat (ECHO Program)

For the eighth consecutive year, the ECHO program, led by the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, will coordinate large-scale underwater noise reduction measures, encouraging ship operators to slow down or stay away when crossing the main areas of critical habitat for Southern Resident Killer Whales in Haro Strait, Boundary Passage, Swiftsure Bank and Juan de Fuca Strait. In May 2024, the Government of Canada renewed the Conservation Agreement under Section 11 of the Species at Risk Act to support the recovery of the Southern Resident Killer Whale with the Port Authority for five years Vancouver Fraser and industry partners. This formalizes the role of the ECHO program and its partners in developing and implementing voluntary threat reduction measures to mitigate the impacts of large commercial vessels on Southern Resident Killer Whales. Full details of the voluntary measures under the ECHO programme, including dates, target slowdown speeds and location coordinates, are available on the ECHO program website (


The Government of Canada leads a technical working group focused on environmental contaminants, which is made up of key partners from all levels of government, academia and non-governmental organizations. Over the past four years, this group has:

identified priority contaminants of concern; made recommendations for long-term measures; carried out significant monitoring and research activities, which continue to this day.

Recent progress also includes proposed amendments to the Prohibited Toxic Substances Regulations (2012) and the development of environmental quality guidelines.

Additionally, the group continues to recommend and develop environmental quality guidelines and compares them to monitoring data to identify areas of possible risk requiring additional action.

The Government of Canada also developed and updated theInventory tool for pollutants affecting whales and their prey available online, which maps estimates of pollutant releases into the habitats of Southern Resident Killer Whales and their primary prey, Chinook salmon. This tool will help model the impacts of mitigation measures and additional controls.

By examining the persistence of numerous contaminants in the environment, the Government of Canada and its partners are determined to continue their efforts to implement long-term measures to support the recovery of the Southern Resident Killer Whale in the following areas:

prepare and implement additional control measures, such as regulations or guidelines, to reduce the threat posed by contaminants; carry out research and monitoring operations to better understand the evolution of contaminants in the environment and their repercussions; exchange data, information and knowledge between partners to inform decision-making; carry out awareness, education and mobilization activities to inform the population and involve them in solutions.

Compliance with management measures depends on public knowledge. The Government of Canada continues to collaborate with educational organizations, environmental groups and government agencies located in Canada and the United States to raise awareness of measures to protect the Southern Resident Killer Whale through educational activities and awareness.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and/or sentence structure not be perfect.

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