TODAY THERE ARE 72 SOUTHERN RESIDENT KILLER WHALES. 

Over the past few decades BC’s Southern Resident Killer Whale population has seen periods of both growth and decline.

From a recorded high of 98 whales, in 1995, their population has over the past twenty years declined to what might be called “below average.”

As outdoor enthusiasts, BC’s public fishing community cares deeply about our killer whales, our coastal communities, and our entire ecosystem. No one has a greater interest or serves a larger role in protecting, preserving, and enhancing BC’s marine life.

We all want to help them thrive.
But a misguided approach will do more harm than good.
To the killer whales, and to British Columbians.

THE FACTS 

SOUTHERN RESIDENT KILLER WHALES ARE NOT THE ONLY KILLER WHALES IN BC.

ANIMAL POPULATIONS NATURALLY GROW AND DECLINE OVER TIME.

ANIMAL POPULATIONS ARE INTERRELATED AND OFTEN COMPETE.

In addition to our Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW) are the more numerous Northern Resident, Transient, and Biggs or Offshore Killer Whales.

BC’s SKRW population has been both larger and smaller than it is today. From a recorded high of 98 in 1995, to a low of 66 in 1973. The factors influencing growth and decline are complicated and varied.

The preferred diet of SRKW is Chinook Salmon. They face stiff competition for this food source from Seals and Sea Lions, whose numbers have dramatically increased over recent decades.

PROBLEM SEALS ARE A PROBLEM.

Due to their protected status, the seal population has exploded since the_1970’s. Without traditional hunting of seals and sea lions along BC’s coast, their numbers in the Georgia Strait/Salish Sea have swollen from an estimated 7,000 in 1975 to over 70,000 today. Worse, this population pressure has pushed problem seals into sensitive rivers and estuaries, where it is estimated they consume nearly HALF of the salmon smolt that are trying to reach the sea. Some of the same seals return in the fall and consume adult salmon returning to spawn in high numbers as well.

PREDATOR CONTROL IS A SOLUTION.

BC’s Southern Resident Killer Whales, unlike their cousins the Transient Killer Whales, do not eat seals as part of their diet. Rather, seals are direct competition for the Chinook Salmon that comprise both of their diets. And the persistently high and plateaued seal population represents a direct threat to the recovery of numerous salmon populations. Effective, science-based control of the local seal population to bring it back in to balance with salmon survival rates will make a significant impact to the recovery of salmon populations and to adding to the Chinook available for SRKW while they are in BC and Salish Sea waters.

PREDATORS TODAY CONSUME SIX TIMES MORE CHINOOK THAN BEFORE.

Marine scientists have determined a number of factors influencing the population of SRKW’s. The largest is the impact of problem seals on the whales’ available prey. But we also know that BC’s killer whales are among the most chemically contaminated marine mammals on the planet, accumulating high levels of toxins in their bodies. Clearly, we need a holistic approach to helping our whales that identifies and accounts for the most significant threats to them.

WE NEED A HOLISTIC APPROACH TO HELPING OUR WHALES

In 1975, predators including seals and sea lions consumed 5 million Chinook. Today, they eat more than 31 million Chinook every year. In the same timeframe, human harvesting of Chinook has decreased, from 3.6 million to 2.1 million.

BC’S COASTAL COMMUNITIES ARE BEING THREATENED TOO

BC's public fishing community is being unjustly blamed. In a cynical effort to push a political agenda targeting a broad range of local industries and communities, a well-funded media campaign is being waged against British Columbians who enjoy sport fishing and who depend on it for their livelihoods.

STOPPING THE PUBLIC FISHERY WILL NOT AID KILLER WHALES BUT IT WOULD DEVASTATE BC FAMILIES AND BC’S COASTAL ECONOMY.

The public fishery is one of the most iconic and traditional pastimes in BC – a part of our shared heritage that also attracts visitors from around the world and provides revenues to coastal communities at a minimal impact to resources. Thousands of BC families and businesses depend on the public fishery for their livelihoods, and our province depends on the more $1 billion contributed each year to BC’s economy.

STOPPING THE PUBLIC FISHERY WOULD NOT ENHANCE THE CHINOOK SALMON POPULATION OR PROVIDE THE KILLER WHALES MORE FOOD.

Even so, anglers catch such a small number of Chinook that their impact on SRKW prey accessibility and abundance is so low that it cannot be measured by marine scientists. Further, even huge reductions in catch over the past two decades have had NOT increased local salmon populations. If we want to rebuild salmon populations to provide prey for SRKW’s then we need to focus on the REAL issues, not political agendas.

STOPPING THE PUBLIC FISHERY WOULD DEVASTATE BRITISH COLUMBIA’S COASTAL COMMUNITIES.

Thousands of British Columbian families rely on the public fishery for employment, income and food. Generations of British Columbians have enjoyed access and opportunity to the public fishery as part of our shared heritage and have relied upon it to feed their families and bring them closer together.

STOPPING PUBLIC FISHERIES WOULD BE AN ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL DISASTER.

While doing nothing meaningful or measurable for the whales, a closure of areas or unnecessarily restricting Chinook fisheries in BC would wreak havoc on lives and communities along our coast and would devastate BC’s coastal economy. Hundreds of resorts, hotels, motels, restaurants, shops, marinas and other local businesses rely heavily upon the public fishery. Travel and tourism would suffer, and BC’s reputation as a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts from around the world would be given a black eye. More than 9,000 jobs in BC rely on the public fishery, providing goods and services to more than 400,000 anglers from every community, and from every walk of life.

THE PUBLIC FISHERY IS A VITAL PART OF BC’S HISTORY, HERITAGE, AND ECONOMY.

BC is synonymous with salmon and its fishing opportunities, and our waters are world-famous for their beauty and abundance. For generations, public fisheries have helped both residents and visitors more fully appreciate the natural wonders of our magnificent coast. BC’s public fishing community has always played a strong role in conserving and protecting our environment, and always will. The public fishery has become one of BC’s largest and most important industries, with benefits to all British Columbians that exceed even the more than $1 billion it contributes to our economy.

WE CAN HELP ENHANCE OUR KILLER WHALE AND CHINOOK POPULATIONS.

We can also do more to help expand the population of BC’s salmon and killer whales by protecting and investing in critical spawning and rearing habitats along our coast, and by implementing recovery and enhancement efforts on river systems where Chinook stocks of concern exist.  Moving angling efforts to Mark Selective Fishing (MSF) strategies when and where necessary including mass marking of all hatchery salmon.  For more details on MSF and salmon recovery please visit www.salmonforever.ca

Please take the time to educate others about the true threats to our killer whales, like pollution, disturbance and “problem solutions.”
 
And, register your concerns and the impacts you’ve experienced in this recently released DFO survey, linked here until March 23rd

WE ARE BC'S COASTAL ALLIANCE

Join our cause and help to protect and enhance BC’s coastal ecosystem, marine wildlife populations, and sustainable outdoor recreational and economic opportunities.

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DUE TO A BAN ON THE TRADITIONAL HUNTING OF SEALS AND SEA LIONS IN OUR WATERS, POPULATIONS HAVE GROWN TEN-FOLD SINCE THE 1970's.

Today it is estimated that there are 70,000 of them in Georgia Strait, with groups that live and feed around rivers and estuaries consuming as much as 47% of juvenile salmon entering the ocean and ultimately competing for the same food as our killer whales.

ALMOST HALF OF ALL CHINOOK AND COHO SALMON SMOLTS LEAVING RIVERS IN GEORGIA STRAIT ARE EATEN BY SEALS.

Marine biologists have identified seals and sea lions as the #1 predators of Chinook and Coho Salmon in BC waters, consuming more Chinook than killer whales and commercial and public fisheries combined.

THE PUBLIC FISHERY IS ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR PASTIMES, AND LARGEST INDUSTRIES, ALONG THE ENTIRE WEST COAST OF NORTH AMERICA.

SHOW YOUR SUPPORT FOR BC'S SOUTHERN RESIDENT KILLER WHALES, AND FOR BC'S PUBLIC FISHERY.

KILLER WHALES EXIST IN NATURE... NOT A VACUUM

The recreational sport fishing community experiences killer whales in their natural habitat... not just on TV.  As outdoor enthusiasts, we have a deep appreciation of the ecosystem they inhabit, the other species in it, and the interactions among them all. As such we are keenly aware of the larger scope of factors that influence them.

WE NEED REASON. NOT RHETORIC.

Killer whales are magnificent animals that inspire awe. But to help them thrive we must rely on science... not emotions. Marine scientists have identified a number of environmental factors affecting their health, vitality, and population size. Among these are habitat loss, chemical contamination from sewage, microplastics and other toxins, marine noise from tour boats and larger vessels, and the challenges in accessibility to prey. And directly related to the availability of the whales’ food supply is the existence of problem seal and sea lion populations in specific locations and times.

WE NEED A SOLUTIONS-BASED APPROACH, AN AVOIDANCE STRATEGY

BC can have thriving Orca populations and thriving coastal fishing communities, co-existing in harmony. We can create “moving sanctuaries” by establishing 400-metre “bubble zones” surrounding whales and propose a voluntary 1 km stop fishing zone, to prevent small vessels from disturbing SRKW and their prey and adopt an avoidance strategy. And we can focus more efforts on enhancing salmon stocks, rather than unnecessarily restricting public fishery opportunities, so that both whales and British Columbians can benefit. Finally, we can take an honest look at the real reason some Orca populations are currently in decline.