Parts of the West Coast have been closed, as the federal officials are trying to protect the threatened orca population. Starting with 1 June, parts of Juan De Fuca Strait, the mouth of the Fraser River and the southern Gulf Islands will be closed until 30 September.
In those areas, recreational fin fishing is banned, and commercial fishing for salmon is also banned.
In some North Coast and South Coast areas, there are restrictions on trolling an on daily catch limits for chinook salmon.
Protecting The Primary Food Source for Killer Whales
Chinook salmon is the primary food source for killer whales. Last week, the officials revealed a program in which they’re trying to reduce the total of harvested chinook salmon by 25-35%.
A statement on the Fisheries and Oceans Canada website wrote:
“Wild populations of chinook salmon have declined dramatically in recent years. This lack of prey has been a critical factor in the decline of southern resident killer whales.”
It’s been several years since wildlife biologists and conservationists have called for closures, saying that many other factors have increased the decline of chinook and killer whales’ numbers.
Owen Bird is the executive director of the Sport Fishing Institute of B.C. and said that tanker traffic is one of the factors. He is appalled at the restriction of salmon fishing, when Ottawa is looking to buy the Transmountain Pipeline expansion – which, if it goes through, it will increase the tanker traffic on the West Coast.
The tankers are very noisy and will interfere with the sensitive hearing of the whales. The whales won’t be able to use their hearing to hunt, navigate, or communicate. Bird said:
“How can you address noise from the tankers when you’re proposing increasing tanker traffic by three times? It seems that possibly the DFO is motivated to make an optical gesture here to say ‘we’re doing our bit’ because we can’t possibly address the other factors that are at play here.”
The total population of killer whales that live in the southern areas is at 76, according to the last estimates.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.