The Federal Department of Fisheries are releasing a consultation paper which provides two alternatives to protect the foraging areas of the Southern Resident Killer Whales. The paper can be found here.
DFO is accepting comments via email DFO until May 3. The final decision will be implemented in May.
The DFO map indicates that both scenarios would ensure all recreational and commercial fishing boats leave a buffer of 1 kilometre for the SRKW population from Beecher Bay to Tsusiat Falls and including the Swiftsure Bank.
Scenario #1 states that all fishing would be closed from Sheringham Point to East Point (Port Renfrew). The remaining areas including the Swiftsure would remain the same as last year. Although a 1 kilometer buffer would prevail through the areas, the policy goes further and states that the Swiftsure Bank closure would be a “no go” zone.
Scenario #2 states that all fishing would be closed from Otter Point to East Point, most of the productive areas of the Swiftsure Bank including the south side would be closed, and the Swiftsure Bank would be a “no go” area.
Scenario #2 would have devastating ramifications for Port Renfrew and Sooke, and in the opinion of our local JdF EA Director is not necessary.
Scenario # 1 would provide SRKWs an adequate sanctuary and noise reductions but still allow communities like Sooke and Port Renfrew to survive while Chinook stocks recover.
Both scenarios call for a Swiftsure Bank “no go” zone for recreational and commercial fishers. Rather than a straight line home, quartering across the swells to Port Renfrew, fishers will be forced to buck against the swell and travel the long distance around the closure boundary – a dangerous and not particularly climate friendly alternative. Thousands of freighters will be continue to travel directly through the closed area.
All residents of the Juan de Fuca electoral area and the District of Sooke need to read the proposal above and e-mail the address above to make clear to the Federal Government what we need in our community. There has been a request to support Scenario 1 with an amendment to remove the “no go” zone in the Swiftsure Bank and instead maintain the 1km buffer in all areas.
Port Renfrew and Sooke residents need all our help at this time. Past history illustrates that these closures will be permanent. We only have a couple of weeks to engage and I truly hope you will join me in helping our fishers, neighbours, and our community. Please take a moment and e-mail a short paragraph to DFO.SRKW-ERS.MPO@dfo-mpo.gc.ca. Please feel free to share this to make sure our voice is heard in Ottawa.