On January 30, 2018 EcoJustice filed, on behalf of group of non-governmental organizations, a petition for an emergency order for the Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW) under section 80 of the Species at Risk Act. The petition addressed to the Environment Climate Change Minister and the Fisheries and Oceans Minister seeks to impose a series of operational measures to reduce noise and disturbance from commercial vessels traveling in or near SRKW foraging areas. Key actions recommended include:
- Seasonal speed controls for commercial vessels transiting Haro Strait and waters adjacent to key foraging areas in Juan de Fuca Strait;
- Direct lateral displacement within existing shipping lanes to reduce acoustic exposure to key foraging areas;
- Quiet commercial vessels servicing local routes in SRKW critical habitat;
- Mandate no net increase in overall noise levels relative to 2016 levels; and
- Develop and adopt a set of noise reduction targets that are biologically relevant and meaningful to the recovery of the SRKW.
The NGO petitioners— the David Suzuki Foundation, Georgia Strait Alliance, Natural Resources Defense Council, Raincoast Conservation Foundation and World Wildlife Fund Canada— are seeking a formal response by March 1, 2018. Legal action is threatened in the absence of any response.