Resident killer whale populations in B.C. are considered to be at risk because of their small population size

Federal orca plans gets lukewarm response from CRD director

Capital Regional District directors refuse to endorse letter from Juan de Fuca director Mike Hicks

Capital Regional District directors refuse to endorse a letter written by Juan de Fuca director Mike Hicks on his opposition to a proposed federal government plan to protect endangered orca populations.

Instead, directors are asking Ottawa to be consulted before the plan is implemented.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada has posted the proposed plan, which includes fishery closures and marine habitat protection, and is accepting public comment until Aug. 14.

“The action plan, although well intentioned, is potentially disastrous for our residents and First Nations,” said Hicks in a letter to DFO.

The proposed measures could affect coastal waters from Port Renfrew to the Southern Gulf Islands.

Aside from fishery closures, the plan proposes revising whale-watching guidelines and regulations to reflect current understanding of effects of chronic physical disturbance on orcas, and considering a licence program and conditions for commercial whale watching, including training standards for boat operators and naturalists, number and/or type of vessels and standard of practice.

“Although our constituents are 100 per cent supportive of enhancing the life and survival of our southern Vancouver Island killer whales, we are hoping to maintain a balance that does not result in undue hardships to our lives,” Hicks said.

In 2001, DFO designated southern resident killer whales as endangered and northern killer whales as threatened.

Resident killer whale populations in B.C. are considered to be at risk because of their small population size, low reproductive rate and the existence of a variety of man-made threats that have the potential to prevent recovery or cause further declines.