NEB report on Trans Mountain highlights lack of action to protect and recover endangered orcas

21 February, 2019

Vancouver, BC — Today, the National Energy Board (NEB) released its report on the marine impacts of the Trans Mountain pipeline and tanker project, recommending once again that the project be approved.

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, BC Chapter (CPAWS-BC) is raising its continued concerns that the federal government has still not implemented an adequate plan to protect and recover southern resident orcas. The NEB conceded that the pipeline was likely to cause “significant adverse environmental effects” to the endangered orca population.

“The NEB’s recommendations to government are not going to save orcas from extinction,” said Bruce Passmore, CPAWS-BC Executive Director. “Endangered southern resident orcas face many threats to their survival, and the risks associated with the pipeline and tanker project are still high.”

Southern resident orcas are listed as endangered in both Canada and the United States, with only 74 individuals remaining as well as one new calf. It has been several years since a calf has been born to the population and survived. Recent reports suggest that by summer, two more orcas are likely to die from causes related to starvation.

Noise from marine traffic is believed to impact the predators’ ability to hunt for their preferred food source, Chinook salmon. The federal government has yet to implement an effective strategy to protect critical orca habitat with new marine protected areas, nor created the National Marine Conservation Area Reserve in the Southern Strait of Georgia.

“We’re in the midst of a global biodiversity crisis. This is life and death. With species like southern resident orcas heading for extinction, Canada has an obligation to act,” continued Passmore. “It is irresponsible for the federal government to approve this project and the associated tanker traffic, if it has not yet taken the concrete steps needed to mitigate against further harm and recover endangered orcas.”