Protect Endangered Orca Whales from Pipeline Tanker Traffic

Protect Orca Whales from oil tankers and pipelines: Tell Justin Trudeau to stop the Trans Mountain pipeline

The Southern Resident Orca is classified as an endangered species under Canada's Species at Risk Act. There are fewer than 80 left in the entire Salish Sea.

The orca whale is a symbol for all who live on Canada's West Coast. Because it would increase oil tanker traffic by 700%, the pipeline would disrupt orcas' their feeding and threaten the salmon that they rely on for food.

This rise in oil tanker traffic would also greatly increases the chance of a major oil spill. That would be catastrophic to the salmon and orca populations and could drive the Salish Sea orca population into extinction.

Yet, Justin Trudeau still gave a government buyout for the Trans Mountain pipeline, giving Kinder Morgan 637% more for its pipeline than the Texas-based oil giant paid for it just over 10 years ago.

Sign this petition and tell Prime Minister Trudeau to protect these iconic animals and reject the government buyout of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Open Letter to Prime Minister Trudeau

The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
Canada
K1A 0A6

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,

I am writing regarding the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion (TMX) proposal. The expansion of the pipeline and the 700% increase of oil tanker traffic through the Burrard Inlet would lead to an unacceptable level of risk for the Southern Resident Orca population. Your approval and planned government buyout of the project would have a negative impact on the Southern Resident Orca population that would be irreversible and likely lead to the extinction of the entire population of whales.

This conclusion was reached for the following reasons:

  1. The southern resident killer whale population is a designated endangered species under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA), which make it “an offense to kill, harm, or harass marine mammals.” (1)
  2. As of the end of 2017, there are only 75 members of the Southern Resident Orca population left. (2)
  3. The noise pollution from this tanker increase will threaten Southern Resident Orca feeding activity and the recoverability of their population. Around boats, Orca feeding activity is reduced by 25%. Since the TMX project would, by the proponent’s own admission, increase oil tanker traffic 700%, the Southern Resident Orca population would be exposed to boat traffic for 100% of their foraging time. This increases the chance of the population heading towards the path of extinction to 25%. (3)
  4. The 700% increase in the number of oil tankers in the Salish Sea, and particularly in Burrard Inlet, increases the risk of an oil spill that would elevate the risk of extinction to the Orca population. An oil spill of any size would impact the survival and reproduction of the Orca population. (4) In the case of a large spill (>16,500 m^3), about half of the Southern Resident Orca population would encounter the spill. Exposure to a large spill would be fatal for any orcas, meaning such a spill would result in a loss of 50% of the Southern resident Orca population. Moreover, population levels would diminish as exposure to toxins in diluted bitumen impede female breeding practices. In the case of a large spill there is a 35.8% chance that the population of the Southern Resident Orca will diminish to a level beyond recovery. Killer whale exposure to an oil spill would be catastrophic to this already endangered stock. (5,6)
  5. A Trans Mountain pipeline spill along the Fraser River estuary could greatly reduce the salmon populations that are the main food source for Southern Resident Orcas. The Fraser River is the largest single salmon-producing river on the Pacific coast of North America, supporting major runs of sockeye, chinook, chum, pink, and coho salmon. A diluted bitumen spill into the Fraser River estuary could cause extreme negative impacts on the salmon populations. The returning adult salmon are the main food source for the southern resident killer whale stock, and a loss to the salmon populations, particularly chinook, would be detrimental. (7)
  6. Because chinook salmon abundance correlates with the demography of the southern resident population, a 20% reduction of Chinook salmon would increase the likelihood of diminishing Southern Resident Orca population to an unrecoverable population level to 73-99%. (8)
  7. The cumulative effects of all impacts on Southern Resident Killer Whales from the Trans Mountain expansion proposal would lead to an unacceptably high risk for the Southern Resident Orca population. By approving this pipeline, you've created a 50% chance that the Southern Resident Orca population would reach levels beyond recovery and onto a pathway of inevitable extinction within the next 100 years.

We call upon Prime Minister Trudeau and the Cabinet ministers to cancel its planned Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Sincerely,
The Undersigned

Footnotes:

  1. Government of Canada. 2016. “Species Profile: Killer Whale Northeast Pacific southern resident population”. Species at Risk Public Registry. Link.
  2. Center for Whale Research. 2017. "SRKW Population Update." Link.
  3. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries. “Killer whale (Orcinus orca)”. Link.
  4. Lacy, R., K.C. Balcomb III., L.J.N. Brent., D.P. Croft., C.W. Clark., and P.C. Paquet. 2015. “Report on Population Viability Analysis model investigations of threats to the Southern Resident Killer Whale population from Trans Mountain Expansion Project”. Prepared for the National Energy Board (NEB) hearings reviewing Kinder Morgan’s proposed Trans Mountain Expansion project. Link (PDF).
  5. Short, J.W. 2015. “Fate and Effect of Oil Spills from Trans Mountain Expansion project in Burrard Inlet and the Fraser River Estuary”. Prepared for Tsleil-Waututh Nation, City of Vancouver, and Living Oceans Society.
  6. Lacy, R. et al. 2015. “…investigations of threats to the Southern Resident Killer Whale population from Trans Mountain Expansion Project”.
  7. Barret-Lennard, L. & K. Heise. 2011. “Killer Whale Conservation: The Perils of Life at the Top of the Food Chain”.  Journal of the American Cetacean Society, 40(1).
  8. Short, J.W. 2015. “Fate and Effect of Oil Spills from Trans Mountain Expansion project in Burrard Inlet and the Fraser River Estuary”. Prepared for Tsleil-Waututh Nation, City of Vancouver, and Living Oceans Society.
  9. Lacy, R., K.C. Balcomb III., L.J.N. Brent., D.P. Croft., C.W. Clark., and P.C. Paquet. 2015. “Report on Population Viability Analysis model investigations of threats to the Southern Resident Killer Whale population from Trans Mountain Expansion Project”. Prepared for the National Energy Board hearings reviewing Kinder Morgan’s proposed Trans Mountain Expansion project. Link (PDF).