The federal government has provided a short window of opportunity to provide feedback on the DRAFT Action Plan for the Northern and Southern Resident Killer Whales in Canada. Despite the fact that the Straitwatch program was a key part of the 2008 Killer Whale Recovery Strategy, the federal government has neglected to mention Straitwatch in this recently released DRAFT document. Instead the government cut our funding and put a stop to our on the water monitoring. View the action plan here or see below for some quick facts:
This Action Plan (AP) has been released following cuts to contaminant monitoring at DFO, cutting of programs like Straitwatch, and decreased DFO enforcement to prey habitat and fisheries infractions.
The AP is very much based on continued research and there is little prioritization of any real concrete action by government.
There is no indication that funds will be given to supporting actions delegated to non-profit organizations like Cetus.
Urgent action required – Follow these easy steps and together we can hold the government accountable to its commitments to support resident killer whale recovery. Feel free to use our bullet points as a guide or just copy and paste!
Step 1 – Click here to submit comments
Step 2 – Choose the area that “best represents your interests”
Step 3 – Recovery Actions (Section 1 in Action Plan)
a. Do you have Comments about “Recovery Actions”
One of the key recovery objectives of the AP is to “Ensure that disturbance from human activities does not prevent the recovery of Resident Killer Whales.” This is the very purpose of Straitwatch yet this program is not mentioned anywhere in the Draft Action Plan.
Straitwatch has successfully monitored human activity around whales and educated the public about minimizing threats since 2002 and there are no other programs, which fulfill this role.
The program could easily be reinstated if the government were to allocate funds appropriately.
Despite the long-term success of Straitwatch, and the recognition of the threat of vessel disturbances on resident killer whales, there is currently no financial support for this program, nor any commitment to making it a priority. In direct contrast, a similar program on the U.S. side of the boarder (Soundwatch) has received increased government funding to continue their important work to protect this vulnerable species.
b. Can you suggest other important actions to support Northern and Southern Resident Killer Whales recovery that have not been considered?
Mitigation of sonar and other military activities should be discussed.
Consideration of increase tanker traffic and shipping has not been addressed.
Licensing of whale watching companies is something that should be discussed in terms of setting industry standards and adding value to the industry itself.
c. Are you interested in being involved in recovery actions to benefit Northern and Southern Resident Killer Whales or do you know of any other individuals or organization that might be interested in undertaking recovery actions?
The Straitwatch Program is ready to undertake pre-approved recovery actions sanctioned by the Killer Whale Recovery Strategy as laid out by DFO in 2008.
Cetus, the organization that runs the Straitwatch program, is open to discussion of other ways in which they can contribute to monitoring and continue to educate the public both on and off the water.
Step 4 – Socio-Economic Evaluation (Section 2 in Action Plan)
a. Is Section 2 a reasonable evaluation of the socio-economic costs of the activities outlined in this Action Plan and the benefits to be derived from their implementation?
There needs to be a plan in place to restore funding to NGO’s rather than to assume these organizations will be able to continue this work without government support.
Step 5 – Conclusion
a. Do you have any additional comments on the draft Action Plan for Northern and Southern Resident Killer Whales?
· Education in addition to research is a very important component of recovery.
· Informed actions are just as critical as information gathering.
· This DRAFT Action Plan is heavily focused on long-term research projects but there is not a lot of time to save this species. Concrete actions need to be put into place immediately using what we already know.
Step 6 – Complete the rest of the form as required and submit!
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Thank you so much for taking the time to provide this critical feedback in your support this important program. Cetus Research and Conservation Society is dedicated to marine mammal conservation and we are grateful for your contributions.