In this undated photo provided by the University of Washington, Southern resident killer whales swim off the coast of San Juan Island, Wash. A new study to be published Thursday, June 29, 2017, says that the small population of endangered Puget Sound orcas are having pregnancy problems due to stress from not getting enough salmon to eat. (Jane Cogan/University of Washington via AP)

New rules for ships implemented to protect killer whales off B.C. coast

Ships must keep 400-metre distance as part of the new rules by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has announced sweeping new rules to protect endangered southern resident killer whales off the coast of British Columbia.

Starting June 1, the minimum distance ships must keep from all killer whales will double to 400 metres, although commercial whale-watchers can apply for authorization to view whales other than southern residents from 200 metres away.

No vessel traffic will be allowed in ”interim sanctuary zones,” at Swiftsure Bank, off southwestern Vancouver Island, and near Pender and Saturna islands, two Gulf Islands.

READ MORE: Conservation groups sue Ottawa to protect endangered killer whales

READ MORE: Killer whales hunt for seals in Vancouver harbour

The department is immediately asking ships to voluntarily turn off echo sounders when not in use, allow engines to idle when within 400 metres of killer whales and, in some locations, go slow when they’re within one kilometre of southern residents.

The department is also closing recreational and commercial salmon fishing in parts of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Gulf Islands, which will take effect after previously announced restrictions on chinook fishing wrap up this summer and will extend through Oct. 31.

Federal Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said the DFO will releasing an additional one million juvenile Chinook annually from Chilliwack Hatchery for five years to support.

Just 75 of the southern resident killer whales remain and they are listed as endangered in Canada. The department said that these initiatives address the main threats these killer whales face: lack of food, noise and physical disturbance from vessels, and contaminants from land-based sources.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Cache Creek landfill extension set for September completion

Project has been delayed due to wildfires and floods over past two years

Drag races set to return for Graffiti Days weekend

Annual event features old favourites like the smoke show, and new events like a drive-in movie

Bonaparte River fishway, Thompson steelhead among projects awarded grant funding

More than $9 million will help 170 fish and wildlife projects around B.C.

Wellness clinics provide free, drop-in health information

New service in Clinton helps patients manage their health care and stay out of hospital

New airline regulations bring compensation for tarmac delays, over-bookings

Some of the new regulations will roll out in July, while others are expected for December.

Scheer says it would take Conservatives five years to balance budget

Scheeraccused the Liberal government of spending $79.5 billion of previously unbudgeted funds

B.C. man, 30, arrested for driving his parents’ cars while impaired twice in one day

The Vancouver-area man was arrested after officers caught him driving impaired twice in one day

More than half of Canadians support ban on handguns, assault rifles: study

Divide between rural and urban respondents in latest Angus Reid Institute public opinion study

Spring rain needed as B.C. sees one of the lowest snowpack levels in 40 years

Snowpack levels in B.C. recorded on May 15 were similar to those in 2015 and 2016

Theresa May to quit as party leader June 7, sparking race for new PM

The new Conservative leader will become prime minister without the need for a general election

B.C. man who fell off cliff returns there to rescue eagle from vulture attack

Nanaimo’s James Farkas, who broke his hip in a fall, saves eagle on same beach months later

Raptors beat Bucks 105-99 to move within 1 game of NBA Finals

Leonard scores 35 as Toronto takes 3-2 series lead over Milwaukee

Municipalities protest after B.C. declares marijuana crops ‘farm use’

UBCM president seeks answers in letter to John Horgan government

Most Read