Southern Resident killer whales may be given right of way

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Southern Resident killer whales may be given right of way

November 12, 2016 - 21:09
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As part of the federal government's new $15 billion ocean protection plan, shipping routes along the western coast of Canada may be altered to prevent collisions between ships and the endangered Southern Resident killer whales.

Southern Resident killer whale.

According to North Vancouver MP Jonathan Wilkinson, Ottawa is considering ways to stop ships from travelling through known whale routes as well as ways of alerting vessels if there are any whales in their path.

"We'll look at areas where we may restrict ship movement to ensure that there are specific areas of concern that we may have rules that actually restrict where ships can actually transit," he said.

The University of Victoria has developed an underwater listening device that monitors both animal and vessel traffic in the shipping routes near the Port of Vancouver. The federal government has approached the university to consider applying their research to this issue.

Kate Moran, an ocean scientist from the university, said, "There’s a model that has been applied on the East Coast in the US where they shifted a shipping lane so that it would dramatically reduce the potential for impact because of where the whales tended to locate. So, that kind of work can be done too."