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Terms of Reference

Report on the 2021 Northern Resident Killer Whale annual census

Regional Peer Review – Pacific Region

May 6, 2022
Virtual Meeting

Chairperson: Sean MacConnachie


Northern Resident Killer Whales (NRKW) are currently designated as ‘Threatened’ under the Species at Risk Act, due to their small population size, low reproductive rate, and the existence of several anthropogenic threats that are likely to impede on-going population recovery or cause future population declines (Fisheries and Oceans Canada 2018). A long-term photo-identification study of NRKW has been conducted by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) since 1973. Each year, extensive field effort is undertaken to find as many members of this population as possible and note their reproductive status and health condition. DFO Science Branch has been asked to review the available data and methods and to provide a summary of the annual abundance estimate of the NRKW population in 2021, including the number of births and deaths as well as a breakdown of the population structure (sex and ages within each clan).


The following science response will be reviewed and provide the basis for discussion and advice on the specific objectives outlined below.

DFO. Population status update for the Northern Resident Killer Whale (Orcinus orca) in 2021. CSAP Science Response 2021SCI03

The specific objectives of this review are to:

  1. Provide an annual census of Northern Resident Killer Whales including population size and demographics
  2. Include an overview of the methods used to conduct the census

Expected Publications

Expected Participation



Participation to CSAS peer review meetings is by invitation only.

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