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Re: Labour Day Boaters Should Be Aware Of Orcas Protection Laws
posted on August 28, 2013

Re: Labour Day Boaters Should Be Aware Of Orcas Protection Laws

August 28, 2013


Re: Labour Day Boaters Should Be Aware of Orcas Protection Laws

As the last summer long weekend approaches both pleasure boaters and Whale Watch Companies should be aware of Canadian and US laws to protect endangered transboundary orcas. Presently there are only 81 Southern Resident Killer Whales who travel in BC and Washington waters. Their future is threatened by depleted salmon stocks, pollution, military tests, and boat traffic harassment.

The US government increased government enforcement while the Canadian has cut funding over the past two years.

WA Appoints Killer Whale Cop.

Recently Lifeforce started a petition to Gail Shea, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. We are urging her to provide funds to government enforcement agencies so they can help protect the orcas.


Lifeforce has also challenged the Pacific Whale Watching Association President, Brian Goodremont, to post the petition and to urge other members to do the same. After all he claimed “Without the feds and state agents out there, it’s sort of been left to us to keep the peace and protect the whales.”

Whale Patrols

If all companies stop breaking the rules then they should not care if they are being monitored.

“The need for increased enforcement and education was once again evident as seen by the insane, irresponsible actions of boaters monitored by Lifeforce this past week,” stated Peter Hamilton, Lifeforce Director, “One Canadian company driver spent his Thursday evening off showing his family the orcas. The problem was that he chased and blocked their pathway (Photo available). Other boaters were constantly within 100 metres and leap frog to get close and in front of approaching orcas (see above photo). On Sunday, two boats from the same company sped through at least one group of orcas to get to another further away. Lifeforce tried to warn the company. A later email from the company stated that they are on a private company only system and do not monitor the regular orca VHF channels. That makes it more difficult to contact them and for companies to know where all the orcas are. It appears that using a private system was done to avoid detection and being monitored. Lifeforce photographs have led to fines being laid by the US Fish and Wildlife. ”

Lifeforce also contacts tourism agencies that irresponsibly show whale watch companies too close. DFO’s Paul Cottrell is also doing good work for this part of education. He told Lifeforce, “I have talked with the Federal tourism council and several other levels of Government. Educating these agencies is very important and is ongoing. Often the promotion occurs in other countries and is done by the travel agencies themselves. As you know we don't want false expectations and the promotion of bad whale watching behaviour.”


In Canada and the US all vessels (including kayaks) must not block the pathways of orcas. In Canada, it is the law that they must also stay 100 yards away and in the US it must be 200 yards (400 yards from approaching orcas). More info at

Be Whale Wise.

Further information: Lifeforce will be on the water monitoring boat traffic. We will be checking the email lifeforcesociety@hotmail.com