Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Waters off Haida Gwaii one of two new critical habitat areas identified by Federal Government

Fisheries, Oceans and Coast Guard Minister Jonathan Wilkinson i
Vancouver today with more funding for whale protection initiatives in BC
(photo from Gov't of Canada)

An area to the north of Haida Gwaii will benefit from further investment by the Government of Canada when it comes to  protection for the Northern Resident Killer Whale, with Fisheries, Oceans and Coast Guard Minister Jonathan Wilkinson outlining the latest moves by the Federal government today in Vancouver.

“The Government of Canada is moving quickly to protect Southern and Northern Resident Killer Whales and to help the population recover. We know that Canadians care deeply about these whales. These new critical habitat areas will ensure that the ocean space that the whales frequent and forage for prey is protected for generations to come.” -- Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and Canadian Coast Guard

The Minister introduced the new areas (an area west of Vancouver Island was also created) as part of the announcement,  which will see expanded vessel slowdowns, enhanced regulatory controls on contaminants and investments aimed at protecting and recovering Chinook salmon stocks.

Northwest Dixon Entrance off the northern coast
of Haida Gwaii is one of two critical habitat
areas created today by the Federal Government

The area of the critical habitat is found as part of the Western side of Dixon Entrance, it was created after consultation and in collaboration with coastal communities and Indigenous groups, as well as environmental and industry stakeholders.

The Southern Resident Killer Whale is listed as endangered, while the Northern Resident Killer Whale is considered as Threatened.

Towards implementation of the critical habitat plan the following elements will be considered:

A Critical Habitat Order focuses on protecting from destruction specific geographic locations and conditions essential for the survival and recovery of the species. It applies to any ongoing or future human activities that could result in the destruction of any part of the identified critical habitat for a species at risk.

Threats to Southern Resident and Northern Resident Killer Whale critical habitat are managed and will continue to be managed through existing mechanisms under federal legislation, such as the Fisheries Act. 

Proposed activities in areas designated as critical habitat must be assessed on a case-by-case basis to ensure they will not destroy critical habitat. SARA provides tools such as permits that can be issued with conditions considered necessary for protecting the species, minimizing the impact of the authorized activity on the species, or providing for its recovery.

So far in 2018, the Federal government has invested over 220 million dollars towards their whale protection initiative, the money designed to create the conditions to provide for the survival and recovery of Resident Killer Whales in British Columbia waters.

You can learn more about today's announcement here.

More items of note related to Federal Government initiatives in the Northwest, North Coast and Haida Gwaii can be found from our House of Commons Archive page.

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