Canada is the second largest country on the planet and one of the only places to border on both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Because of this, the wildlife found in the Canadian outdoors is unlike anywhere else in the world and now the federal government is stepping up to protect it.
On Wednesday, October 31st, the Canadian government announced that they will be committing $61.5 million dollars to the protection of the Southern Resident Killer Whales, a species that is facing serious threats to their survival in the wild.
The announcement was made by Jonathan Wilkinson, the Canadian Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, alongside Sean Fraser, the Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Environment and Climate Change, and Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport.
The multi-million dollar commitment is going to add new measures to the existing protective policies that will increase the effort and protection of the species in Canadian waters. With this action, the Government of Canada is hoping to help the Southern Resident Killer Whale population recover from their depletion.
So what new measures are the millions going to cover? Here's exactly where the $61 million will be going:
- Introducing measures to help protect the Chinook salmon population (a primary source of food for Southern Resident Killer Whales).
- Continue to identify and protect areas of habitat necessity for whale population survival and recovery.
- New agreements with ferry operators and marine industry partners to help reduce noise pollution in Canadian waters.
- Expanding the slowdown operations for water vessels in an effort to reduce noise pollution.
- Expanding monitoring systems and develop real-time capabilities to reduce the likelihood of whale encounters, including funding to Ocean Wise for the development and operation of Whale Report Alert System.
- Work on a Southern Resident Killer Whale sanctuary within sub-areas of critical habitat used by the whales.
- More control over five key pollutants that are impacting the whale population in Canadian waters currently.
Just last week, the Canadian Senate passed a bill that would no longer allow whale and dolphins being held in captivity. Those who keep the marine animals in captivity after the ban would face fines upwards of $200,000 and would also prohibit breeding.
While the bill still needs to make it through the House of Commons by May, it's apparent Canada is beginning to realize it's crucial to take care of the wildlife found in our home and native land.
Minister Wilkinson spoke on the multi-million dollar promise, stating that "Today's bold and unprecedented actions represent a major step forward in addressing key concerns. By increasing access to food, reducing vessel noise and addressing key contaminants of concern, the Government of Canada is taking action to protect and to enable recovery of the Southern Resident Killer Whale."
The Canadian Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, also commented and stated that "the Southern Resident Killer Whale is a vital component of the local marine ecosystem and has cultural significance for Indigenous peoples and coastal communities in British Columbia. These magnificent creatures face an imminent threat to their survival and recovery, and we are taking immediate action to better protect them."
The Canadian government became aware that the Southern Resident Killer Whale was in immediate danger earlier in 2018 and were informed that the species would need intervention urgently in order to survive. It's become a high priority for the government to help save the population and recover.
$167 million of the 2018 Canadian Budget was designated to be used towards endangered whale populations, building on top of the $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan.