Fisheries Meeting Aims to Ensure Enough West Coast Salmon for Starving Orcas

Center for Biological Diversity –

Federal, state and tribal fishery managers and experts on critically endangered Southern Resident killer whales begin meeting today to discuss how West Coast salmon fishing is limiting availability of the starving orcas’ main food source.

The National Marine Fisheries Service recommended the working group after being put on notice in December that its outdated analysis violated the Endangered Species Act as this West Coast orca population dropped to 75.

The Pacific Fishery Management Council’s Ad Hoc Southern Resident Killer Whale Workgroup holds its first meetings today and tomorrow in Portland, Ore. The Center for Biological Diversity and Wild Fish Conservancy sent the notice letter and then filed a lawsuit in April, shortly after the Fisheries Service announced plans to reinitiate the necessary consultation on salmon fisheries’ impacts on these endangered orcas. That lawsuit is pending.

“These orcas need more salmon to survive, so we’re glad fishery managers are examining how they might help Southern Residents recover,” said Julie Teel Simmonds, an attorney with the Center. “West Coast orcas have reached a critical point requiring bold actions to safeguard their survival. We hope that ensuring they have enough to eat will pull these graceful animals back from the brink.”

The population of Southern Resident killer whales reached a 34-year low in 2018 after the loss of a newborn calf and a young female orca.

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