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

7th annual Invermere Music Fest

A snapshot of the festival

Elk River reclaims property as its own

Laws make it harder to protect private land than ever before says farmer, local government

Need cash to splash

Radium Sunrise Rotary Club wants to build a splash park in Radium Hot Springs

Kootenay National Park about to turn 100

Ninety-nine years of publicly-accessible wilderness

Kootenay Conservation Program develops online conservation tool

Online toolkit for Kootenay-based services and programs

VIDEO: B.C. woman meets biological mother, 38 years later

Mother never gave up hope of finding daughter, despite all the obstacles

B.C. Lions fall to 1-9 after 13-10 loss to Ticats

Lowly Leos have dropped six straight CFL contests

VIDEO: B.C. woman meets biological mother, 38 years later

Mother never gave up hope of finding daughter, despite all the obstacles

B.C. man who died after rescuing swimmer was known for helping others

Shaun Nugent described as a dad, a coach, a hero and ‘stand-up guy’ at celebration of life

B.C. RCMP plane chases fleeing helicopter as part of major cross-border drug bust

The helicopter eventually landed at a rural property near Chilliwack

Thousands cycle to conquer cancer

The 11th annual Ride to Conquer Cancer took place Saturday morning, Aug. 24 in Surrey, B.C.

PHOTOS: Brazil military begins operations to fight Amazon fires

Amazon fires have become a global issue, escalating tensions between Brazil and European countries

Racist confrontation in Richmond parking lot caught on camera

Woman can be heard yelling racial slurs, swear words at woman in apparent parking dispute

Groups ready campaign to help young voters identify ‘fake news’ in election

The media literacy campaign to focus on identifying misinformation and suspicious sources online

Most Read