New Law to Protect Orcas In Pacific Northwest

Published Date: 2009/2/26
Article ID : 6238 Version 1.00

By Greg Joyce

The Canadian Press VANCOUVER — Almost 300 endangered or threatened killer whales that ply the waters of the Pacific Northwest have improved habitat protection with a new federal government regulation. The protection, under the Species At Risk Act (SARA), covers the habitat of Northern and Southern resident killer whales, said Lara Tessaro of Ecojustice. Southern resident orcas are endangered and number about 85, and the northern orcas are considered a threatened species and have a population of about 200. The order comes after Ecojustice and several other environmental groups launched a lawsuit last fall against the Department of Fisheries. “It's the very first one ever issued under the Species At Risk Act so it's a precedent-setting order,” said Tessaro. “What it means is that it is now an offence to destroy the critical habitat of resident killer whales.

It designates, legally, their critical habitat as an area that attracts legal protection.” Southern resident orcas suffered a 20 per cent decline between 1993 and 2003 before recovering slightly. Northern resident whales' populations dropped by about seven per cent in recent years. The declines are due to threats to their habitat, including dredging, pollution, trawling, tanker traffic, military sonar tests, seismic testing and a decline in salmon stocks, she said.

For the whole article, check out the Canadian Press Link


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