Proposed Abstract Title

Creating a Mariner’s Guide to Whales of Western Canada: A Collaborative Approach to Cetacean Conservation

Presenter/Author Information

Bailey Eagan, Vancouver AquariumFollow

Type of Presentation

Oral

Session Title

Understanding and managing potential cumulative threats to marine mammals and their habitats from commercial vessel activities

Location

2016SSEC

Description

British Columbia is home to 23 species of cetacean and four species of sea turtle, 12 of which are listed “at risk” under the Species at Risk Act (SARA). Vessel disturbance is listed as a threat in the SARA Recovery Strategies or Management Plans for the latter 12 species. We created a comprehensive Mariner’s Guide to Whales of Western Canada to address this and other threats associated with large vessel traffic. The guide, contributed to by a diverse set of organizations and industry partners, identifies and describes key cetacean species, summarizes known impacts of vessels on those species, and provides information on how vessel operators can minimize those impacts. By combining whale density estimates with comprehensive vessel traffic data collected by the Canadian Coast Guard, the guide also provides maps estimating the probability of whale-vessel encounters in various regions to heighten mariner awareness. This information will provide mariners with resources that will aid in navigation decisions to decrease negative impacts on species at risk. Additionally, this project will set the groundwork for further threat mitigation strategies, including the creation of an alert system to notify large vessel captains when whales are in the area.

Comments

Port Metro Vancouver’s (PMV’s) Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) Program and Prince Rupert Port Authority’s (PRPA) Marine Mammal and Underwater Noise Program are working with the Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Research Program and the DFO Science Branch to develop this whale guidance document.

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Creating a Mariner’s Guide to Whales of Western Canada: A Collaborative Approach to Cetacean Conservation

2016SSEC

British Columbia is home to 23 species of cetacean and four species of sea turtle, 12 of which are listed “at risk” under the Species at Risk Act (SARA). Vessel disturbance is listed as a threat in the SARA Recovery Strategies or Management Plans for the latter 12 species. We created a comprehensive Mariner’s Guide to Whales of Western Canada to address this and other threats associated with large vessel traffic. The guide, contributed to by a diverse set of organizations and industry partners, identifies and describes key cetacean species, summarizes known impacts of vessels on those species, and provides information on how vessel operators can minimize those impacts. By combining whale density estimates with comprehensive vessel traffic data collected by the Canadian Coast Guard, the guide also provides maps estimating the probability of whale-vessel encounters in various regions to heighten mariner awareness. This information will provide mariners with resources that will aid in navigation decisions to decrease negative impacts on species at risk. Additionally, this project will set the groundwork for further threat mitigation strategies, including the creation of an alert system to notify large vessel captains when whales are in the area.