Wednesday, October 10, 2018

All Points Bulletin for Vancouver Island Killer Whales




by Susanne Hare Lawson

October 10, 2018


Re: Killer Whale populations around Vancouver Island...

In response to DFO study regarding the survival of the killer whale populations around Vancouver Island, I would like to comment and add some information and observations. (I have lived on an island on the open Pacific in Clayoquot Sound for almost 50 years now.) Recently, DFO closed all Chinook sportfishing in the Southern Half of Vancouver Island likely due to the seriousness of the Killer Whale survival statistics. (From Long Beach to Nanaimo I believe).

My observations regarding the present situation...

1. The fish farms are producing very serious diseases that are affecting not only wild salmon but possibly humans as well as killer whales, particularly their vulnerable young. 

Paul Spong who has studied whales for almost 40 years here on the coast, responded that a virus was a likely culprit in the loss of the recent young killer whale which the mother kept with her for weeks. Alexandra Morton has documented the serious plagues that are inhabiting fish farms and Atlantic salmon that are being brought to the farms.

A shellfish closure has been in effect in Clayoquot Sound since the summer, particularly after one young man who handles seafood was rushed to hospital with a heart virus that was a complete unknown to doctors here. Piscene Reovirus attacks the hearts of farmed salmon and is affecting wild salmon as well. It is a probable cause of deaths of young killer whales.

The viruses, parasites and diseases being found in and around fish farms is a serious concern and has been proven to be a major cause of the loss of our wild salmon. They should be removed from the coastal areas and put in populated areas where they can be maintained properly if they are to continue. Not on our outer shores.

2. The loss of wild salmon is starving the killer whale populations as well. 

Here in Clayoquot, the returns of wild salmon are pathetically low and falling. The only sustaining wild salmon for the most part here are the wild Columbia River fish and other salmon that are looked after. This is not only affecting killer whales but bears, wolves, eagles, migrating birds, trout and the myriad other species who depend upon our wild Pacific Salmon for sustenance.

The loss of herring is of equal importance to the survival of wild salmon and those populations and migration has almost bottomed out here in Clayoquot, a lot due to the pollution and parasites from fish farms. Logging, which continues unceasing here on the coast, has also caused a major loss of wild salmon due to lack of appropriate water temperatures, water flow, water clarity and sediment.

3. The total disconnect between habitat integrity for species through government policy is appalling. 

Resource extraction, pollution, disease, climate changing conditions, disregard for the survival of the young and migration routes of both salmon and killer whales and what they feed on and need for survival has been relegated to the back burner and given a look at now and then as these species dwindle. Are we to see their demise? If so, we can count on ours.

4. Short Term monetary profit has put not only the killer whales but small coastal communities at risk as we lose the integrity of the marine life around us that we depend upon. 

It is time to protect and enhance the natural world and get out of the way of the paths that other species need in order to survive. Those impediments are obvious, it isn't rocket science to understand and see what is needed. We can change and bring these populations back to healthy numbers and all live in a place of abundance.

There is more but addressing these issues would be a start.

Thank you.

Sincerely, Susanne Hare Lawson,
Wickaninnish Island, Tofino, B.C

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