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Engagement on the science-based whale review

Engagement on the science-based whale review: A summary of what was heard, March 2018

Engagement on the science-based whale review: A summary of what was heard, March 2018 (PDF, 1.28 MB)

A summary of what was heard
March 2018

Engagement on the Science-based Whale Review
A Summary of What was Heard

Prepared by the consortium of Nielsen, Delaney + Associates, PubliVate.
Contract #: FP918-17-0001

Ce document est également disponible en français.

Table of Contents

1. Executive Summary

In November 2016, the Government of Canada announced its Oceans Protection Plan, which outlined several new initiatives aimed at addressing threats to populations of marine mammals in Canadian waters. To support this effort, Fisheries and Oceans Canada led a science-based review of the effectiveness of the current management and recovery actions for three at-risk whale populations: the Southern Resident Killer Whale, the North Atlantic Right Whale and the St. Lawrence Estuary Beluga. The Science-Based Whale Review work rolled out in three phases (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. Phases of the Science-Based Whale Review

Figure 1. Phases of the Science-Based Whale Review

While Fisheries and Oceans Canada has worked with Indigenous groups, stakeholders and industry for many years to identify recovery actions for these endangered whale populations, this engagement process focused on the timely and efficient implementation of priority management actions. The three key objectives of the engagement were to:

  1. Educate parties about the ongoing threats to the three endangered whale populations and the priority management actions identified by scientists to support their recovery.
  2. Identify specific actions and clarify roles of those able to reduce negative impacts of human activities on these whales.
  3. Confirm the role of different sectors and collaborative approaches to support and implement effective management actions.

This What Was Heard Report on the Science-Based Whale Review includes results for all three endangered whale populations. The feedback the Government of Canada received during the engagement will inform further discussions and implementation planning for enhanced recovery efforts for these whale populations. It summarizes what was heard from:

The report summarizes the common themes that emerged in meetings, written submissions, and the online Let's Talk Whales public engagement. It presents feedback on priority management actions to address five of the threats to one or more of these endangered whale species: prey availability, entanglements, acoustic disturbance and vessel presence, contaminants, and vessel strikes.

Highlights of What Was Heard

Participants felt that the number of whales in each of the three endangered whale populations is critically low. With some exceptions, people who participated in the online Let's Talk Whales public engagement were overwhelmingly positive about the types of actions that scientists identified to enhance whale recovery.

For all three whale populations, governments, Indigenous groups and stakeholders agreed that it is essential to take immediate action to improve recovery efforts and to reduce these five threats. It was suggested that the approach to prioritization and implementation should:

Indigenous participants felt strongly that the process to develop and implement priority management actions should:

There were differences in what people viewed as the most critical actions to help recover each of the endangered whale populations. Key differences of opinion centered on the strength of the scientific evidence supporting the proposed actions, which actions should be highest priority, the time lines for implementation and the extent to which existing legislation, regulations, monitoring and enforcement are adequate to support proposed actions.

Prey Availability


Acoustic Disturbance and Vessel Presence

Vessel Strikes


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