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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Severe storm warning remains in effect for the Kootenays

Two special weather statements have been issued for the West Kootenay

Update: Suspect in Montrose gas station stabbing new to the area

Police say the 30-year-old suspect stabbed a Montrose gas station employee

‘I knew what he wanted’: Man recalls black bear chasing him up tree in Slocan Valley

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

RDKB launches survey to address housing needs in the district

Communities in the district include Trail, Grand Forks, Rossland and Fruitvale

No passenger flights at West Kootenay Regional Airport until at least September

This is the third time Air Canada has announced changes to flight operations out of the airport

Minimum wage goes up June 1 in B.C. as businesses face COVID-19 challenges

The minimum wage jumps by 75 cents to $14.60 an hour on Monday

Protesters prepare to rally against racism in front of Vancouver Art Gallery

Rally is in response to the deaths of black Americans and a Toronto woman

Protesters rally against anti-black, Indigenous racism in Toronto

Police estimated the crowd to be between 3,500 and 4,000 and said there was no violence

Feds earmark $1.5M to support recovery of B.C., Indigenous tourism

B.C. money will be split between Vancouver Island and Indigenous tourism

‘We’re sick of it’: Anger over police killings shatters U.S.

Tens of thousands marched to protest the death of George Floyd

Join Kootenay family in virtual walk for Ronald McDonald House

“We always described it as our oasis in the middle of the desert,” Brigitte Ady shares.

Surrey mayor’s party under fire for ‘sickening’ tweet accusing northern B.C. RCMP of murder

Mayor Doug McCallum says tweet, Facebook post ‘sent out by unauthorized person’

Father’s Day Walk Run for prostate cancer will be virtual event this year throughout B.C.

The annual fundraiser for Prostate Cancer Foundation BC has brought in $2.5 million since 1999

Most Read