Healthy Oceans. Healthy Communities.

Help the humpbacks

This Action Alert has run its course. Please stay tuned to find our if the federal government has listed to your request to protect humpback whales.

Less than six months after DFO finally released its Recovery Plan for threatened North Pacific humpbacks, the Harper government is set to kill the protection that plan would have offered the beleaguered whales and open the way for tanker traffic to Enbridge’s planned Northern Gateway terminal in Kitimat, B.C.

On Saturday of the Easter long weekend, the government published a notice that it intends to downgrade the status of humpbacks from “threatened” to “species of concern.” The practical effect of the change is it would remove the requirement to protect humpback habitat from threats to the whales—such as increased tanker traffic.

How you can help

The public has until May 19 to comment. Use the form below to send an email to the government telling them the humpbacks still need our help. The email will go to Julie Stewart, Director, Species at Risk Program Management, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ottawa.

Oil tankers don’t need to spill oil to harm humpbacks. These whales are the ones most frequently reported in ship-strike incidents and it’s usually the young that are hit, because they surface so frequently to breathe. Noise from the engines and the sheer bulk of the vessels will disrupt feeding and displace the whales, interfering with their natural patterns of hunting, socializing and teaching their young.

Hunted nearly to extinction, the North Pacific humpbacks are a great success story right now. In the 50 years since we stopped hunting them, their numbers have recovered to about half of their estimated pre-hunting abundance. Some 2,100 humpbacks are believed to use B.C.’s rich coastal waters as a summer feeding and rearing ground. Year after year, they return in increasing numbers to the same narrow channels on the approach to Kitimat.

Please take action today and demand protection for humpback habitat.

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A humpback breaching. Photo: Jeff Reynolds
Map: Proposed tanker routes pose risk to critical habitat for humpback whales