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From the David Suzuki Foundation - Saving Salish Sea Orcas



Dear Ministers LeBlanc and McKenna,

I am requesting that you recommend an emergency order under the Species at Risk Act for southern resident killer whales. With 76 remaining individuals, I believe that an emergency situation requires an emergency response.

This little-used legal tool has proven to be a flexible, effective way to urgently respond to a species’ specific needs. It provides measures to address imminent threats to a species. Emergency orders helped stop further declines of western chorus frogs and rebuilt greater sage grouse populations. Male greater sage grouses grew in number from 20 to 79 in 2016 following an emergency order.

The emergency order for southern resident killer whales calls for limits to the number of chinook that can be caught and for other restrictions on fishing. It also calls on government to designate whale feeding refuges during spring and summer for a minimum of five years. The refuges would allow the orcas to forage without noise and disturbance from fishing and whale-watching vessels. Protection could also include introducing speed limits for large commercial vessels that travel along key foraging areas. These solutions are supported by Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s own science and are part of recovery strategies and action plans. 

Time for action is running out. 

Research indicates a 24 to 50 per cent risk of southern resident orca extinction this century if conditions don’t change. It’s a colossal failure of policy and will that finds Canada’s wildlife in such dire circumstances. The extinction of these whales, and many other endangered species in Canada, is a tragedy that you have the power to prevent. By recommending an emergency order you will be acting urgently to give these iconic Salish Sea animals their best chance for survival.

Thank you for acting to prevent extinction. 

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