DONNELLY CALLS ON FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO PROTECT ORCAS
February 9th, 2011 - 12:00am
New Democrat Fisheries and Oceans critic Fin Donnelly (New Westminster-Coquitlam-Port Moody) today blasted Fisheries Minister Gail Shea for trying to back out of her legal duty to protect British Columbia’s endangered Orca whales.
“Why would the Minister waste time and taxpayers’ dollars on a costly appeal, rather than put money into protecting this iconic species?” asked Donnelly. “The court ruling is clear. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans must protect the Orca whale, its critical habitat, the salmon it feeds on; and it must mitigate any harmful noise that affects these creatures.”
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans was recently taken to court by several conservation groups in British Columbia lead by Ecojustice. After a lengthy battle, the Federal court found that the department failed in their duty to protect critical marine habitat for the Orca.
Rather than abide by the Species at Risk Act, in 2008, the DFO attempted to download its responsibility through the use of existing provincial guidelines and non-binding, voluntary protocols to protect habitat. The court ruled that this was not acceptable.
“There seems to be a running theme with the Harper government regarding their neglect of the west coast. From their harmful aquaculture policies, to their refusal to ban oil tankers off the north coast, to their resistance to protect the Orca whale, it is clear this government doesn’t care about preserving BC’s coast” said Donnelly.