PROTECT OUR MARINE MAMMALS
SOUTHERN RESIDENT KILLER WHALES
A reminder that as of June 1, 2023, Transport Canada’s Interim Order for the Protection of Killer Whale (Orcinus orca) in the Waters of Southern British Columbia, 2023 is in effect including: Recreational boaters are reminded to stay at least 400 meters away (equal to about four football fields) from the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales, among other measures to ensure their survival.
Additional whale safety regulations:
- Stay 400m away from all killer whales, except when in southern BC coastal waters between Campbell River and just north of Ucluelet (orange areas).
- 20m corridor for human-powered vessels is applicable in the Interim Sanctuary Zones at Saturna and Pender Islands but does not apply outside of the Interim Sanctuary Zones throughout the 400m approach distance zone from Campbell River to just North of Ucluelet.
- For a list of exceptions, please visit the 2023 management measures webpage.
Speed Restricted Zones - Swiftsure Bank (effective June 1 – November 30, 2023):
- From June 1 until November 30, all vessels are required to slow down to a maximum of 10 knots around Swiftsure Bank:
- In a portion of Subarea 121-1
- In portions of Subareas 121-1, 121-2 and 21-0: near the mouth of the Nitinat River from Carmanah Point to Longitude 125 degrees west
- Some limited exceptions may apply. This measure is mandatory and separate from the voluntary slowdowns coordinated by the ECHO Program.
- Voluntary fishing avoidance zone: Stop fishing (do not haul gear) within 1000m of killer whales
- Reduce speed to less than 7 knots when within 1000m of the nearest marine mammal
- Turn off echo sounders and fish finders when safe to do so and not in use
- Place engine in neutral idle and allow animals to pass if your vessel is not in compliance with the approach distance regulations
Fortunately, the number of Humpback Whales off our coast has increased. However, the size and unpredictability of large whales like Humpbacks significantly increases the risk of collision and injury to both whales and boaters. Humpbacks also have entanglement risks.
Key Points for whale and boater safety from “See a Blow? Go Slow!” campaign:
- Always be on the lookout for blows and other indicators of whale presence such as aggregations of birds (meaning more feed available and thereby an enhanced chance of whale presence).
- Watch for vessels flying the "Whale Warning Flag" signalling that whales are near.
- Slow down. Speed should not be more than 7 knots when within 200 to 400 meters of the whale(s).
- Give the whale(s) space. Do not approach large whales within 200 metres.
- If whales surface within 200 metres of your vessel, place engine in neutral (or shut off the engine) until whales are beyond 200 meters.
- If kayaking, raft up.
- The law requires reporting any collision or other incident, such as entanglement or disturbance to: DFO Incident Reporting Line at 1-800-465-4336
(if out of cell range, report to Coast Guard on VHF 16).
- For the safety of yourself and the whale, DO NOT attempt to disentangle the whale.
- For further detail, please see “How to Save a Whale”.