Science, policy, and education for orcas and their ecosystem
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Southern Resident Killer Whale Symposium 2006
NOAA NW Fisheries Science Center, Seattle, WA. Apr 3- 5
There have been approximately 650 oil spills in the Puget Sound area since 1985. In 2006, NOAA developed a response team, tug, and increased safety standards for single-hulled ships. The maximum number of Southern resident killer whales occurred in 1996 at 97 individuals. The United States has two protection acts. The goal of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) is to restore stocks to optimum sustainable levels. The goal of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is to develop protective, regulations, define critical habitat, and develop a Recovery Plan. Critical habitat is defined as the biological and physical elements essential for conservation. In 2001, a petition was submitted to the ESA committee to list the southern residents as ‘endangered’. In 2002, the committee voted not to list the population as endangered on the fact that they are not recognized as a separate species. In 2003, this population was listed as ‘depleted’ under the MMPA. In 2004, the southern residents were listed as ‘threatened’ as a ‘distinct population segment’ (DPS). The population was determined as significantly different because of is distinct acoustic and behavioral cultural traits, genetics, and morphology. Culture is defined as learned knowledge or behavior passed though generations that are important for survival. For example, the southern residents engage in greeting ceremonies whereas the northern residents beach rub. In 2005, a MMPA Conservation Plan was developed. On February 16 2006, the southern residents were officially listed as ‘endangered’ under the ESA. Research is needed on sound, prey, and toxic pollution. Canada implemented the Species at Risk Act (SARA) in 2003 to designate habitat and develop Action, and Recovery, Plans for species at risk (SAR). Species at risk are defined as those with ‘threatened’ or ‘endangered’ listings. There are four ecotypes of killer whales in British Columbia, southern and northern resident (fish-eating), offshores, and transients (meat-eaters). The southern residents are listed as ‘endangered’, the northern residents as ‘threatened’, the offshores as of ‘special concern’, and the transients as ‘threatened’. Within a year of listing, Action and Recovery Plan are developed. Transient killer whales were listed as ‘threatened’ in 2006 and thus require plans by 2007. The plans for the residents are to promote long-term viability, preserve geographic conditions, and preserve matrilines with multiple generations. Objectives; adequate and accessible food supply, chemical and biological pollution, disturbance from human activity, critical habitat and acoustic environment protection. The management process is to monitor, determine, investigate, and identify threats. The precautionary principle must be untilised because for long-lived species we may never know long-term effects.