Endangered Orcas Need Immediate Help
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Endangered Orcas Need Immediate Help
January 2, 2006
Lifeforce, a Vancouver based ecology organization, is calling upon the Canadian and US governments to take immediate actions to protect the endangered Southern Community of orcas. Both governments are developing Orca Recovery Plans but it may be too little too late.
“Since the 80s Lifeforce has been fighting to protect these orcas. If some immediate actions are not taken their survival is threatened.” stated Peter Hamilton, Lifeforce Founder, “The system has failed to implement plans to protect them. We must protect the orcas not jobs. Many of those in charge of policies are studying them to death.”
While everyone agrees that three major threats are habitat pollution, depleted fish stocks and boat noise, the other environment hazards and reuniting Southern Community family members have not been fully address.
Lifeforce has developed methods to attract orcas away from environmental hazards such as oil spills. Equipment, training and readiness costs must be made available now. A major oil spill could happen at any time.
The aquarium captures have devastated the Southern Community. Approximately 48 orcas were captured with 11 dieing during the captures. A generation of young orcas and their offspring has been lost forever. The abnormal age and sex ration will take decades to return to normal. Lolita (in a US aquarium) and Luna (in Nootka Sound, BC) are members of L pod and should be returned for their sake and to increase the gene pool.
Some of the above mentioned threats cannot be resolved immediately but we can immediately reduce some of the threats by effectively monitoring the boat traffic. We can immediately reduce noise pollution/boat traffic that interrupts foraging patterns and causes stress that affects the immune systems. We can also reduce boat collisions that could injure and kill orcas. We must also stop the increase of unwarranted research boat traffic that adds to the noise problem.
“Boat noise monitoring and oil spill response must be fully funded now. We must change the face of whale watching and research in order to stop their haphazard, continuous boat harassment. We must have oil spill response teams to protect the orcas now.” added Hamilton.
Some Immediate Needs:
Comments for the US NMFS' proposed Orca Conservation Plan - MMPA Depleted listing for the Southern Resident orcas ends January 3, 2006. This will most likely form the basis or foundation for the Orca Recovery Plan that will be required under the recent Endangered listing under the ESA. The Canadian government is also developing Orca Recovery Plans.
However, the orcas can’t wait. We must immediately:
· Guarantee adequate funding is available to maintain monitoring programs such as Lifeforce’s Lifewatch Boater Awareness Program. We do not have funding to continue our education services in 2006.
· Immediately contract and equip Marine Wildlife Emergency Response Teams, such as Lifeforce, in key areas. This must include being prepared to keep orcas away from oil spills.
· Reunite Luna with his family L pod in 2006.
· Immediately return Lolita to home waters for a probable reunion with her family L pod in 2006.
· Enact strong Marine Mammal Protection Regulations.
· Stop any attempts to weaken the US Endangered Species Act.
· Obtain assurances with the Whale Watch Operators Association for 2006 season. Agreements must include 30-minute observation limits, No Whale Watch Zones such as Active Pass, ¼ to ½ mile buffer zones for all shorelines and stopping harmful operations such as blocking pathways.
· Improve all Monitoring organizations effectiveness through standards and policies.
· Provide financial support for land based whale-watching programs such as Lifeforce’s Orca Trials.
· Provide financial support for Whale and Dolphin Hotlines to report stranding, harassments and locations. Hotlines should be area specific. Lifeforce’s 13-year-old Hotline covers the Southern Georgia Strait/Northern WA area.
· Train/license all whale watch companies and researchers.
· Train enforcement agencies regarding orca behaviours.
· Form a joint Canadian/US Research Task Force with public participation to review all present and proposed research. Essential studies only, not basic science. No close approaches/focal follows especially with other boats present because these boaters usually are left with the impression that it is okay to get close.
· Stop all Aquarium business activities that promote petting, feeding and swimming with dolphins.
· Conduct joint US and Canadian environmental impact studies on any major construction such as the proposed Delta Port Expansion – a critical orca habitat.
· Distribute education materials (green boating and land related pollution) to all marinas in 2006. Boaters may also be reached through licensing.
· Demand that the City of Victoria, BC stop dumping raw sewage into critical orca habitat.
· Implement a 5-year moratorium on all depleted fish stocks.
For further info: Peter Hamilton – 604 - 669 - 4673 (NOW-HOPE)
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