The U.S. Navy has received approval to conduct a seven-year weapons testing program that could seriously harm the critically endangered southern resident killer whale and other marine mammals in our waters.
This is unacceptable. The Government of Canada needs to take a strong stance against this program. Only 72 southern resident killer whales remain, and they rely on critical habitat in both Canadian and U.S. waters.
The new U.S. regulations came into effect on November 9th. They authorize the ‘incidental harassment’ of various species of marine mammals for seven years in Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, as well as offshore of Washington, Oregon, and northern California. Military testing will include the use of torpedoes, explosives, underwater drones, and sonar technology.
Even with harm reduction measures in place, military testing and training activities could cause 51 estimated instances of harassment of southern resident killer whales each year. Instances of harassment are defined by serious disruptions to the natural behaviours of whales, such as migration, surfacing, nursing, breeding, feeding, and sheltering. Disruptions like these can be very serious. In Europe, whale deaths have been linked to behavioural disruptions resulting from military sonar exercises.
The new program will also cause harm to many other species of marine mammals, including blue whales, fin whales, humpback whales, seals, sea lions, porpoises, and dolphins.
My colleague Elizabeth May has been urging the government to take a stronger stance on this outrageous new program. Fisheries and Oceans Canada has responded that they are working closely with their U.S. counterparts to protect endangered whale species, but they have not specifically explained how they plan to protect marine mammals from U.S. military testing.
The Government of Canada must strengthen its position and formally tell the U.S. that harming the critically endangered southern resident killer whale is unacceptable. We must speak up and protect this iconic species.
I encourage you to share your concerns in an email to Minister Bernadette Jordan, the federal Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard (firstname.lastname@example.org), with me copied (email@example.com). Please email my office if you are interested in starting or signing a parliamentary petition on this issue.