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Marine Mammal  Monitoring , Veins of Life Watershed Education Boat Society
Be Whale Wise Guidelines Veins of Life Watershed Society Marine Mammal Monitoring

One of the major issues in this waterway is the potential impact that the large number of whale watching operators and private boaters in the area may be having on marine life.
The southern resident killer whale population, often found in the waters between Vancouver, Victoria and Seattle, was recently listed as endangered by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC).

The Marine Mammal Monitoring program (M3) was developed to address this issue and to establish a stewardship role on behalf of the marine mammals in the Salish Sea. (click left poster to download pdf).

Presentation by The Veins of Life Watershed Society of the Marine Mammal Monitoring Program PDF

© 2009 Veins of Life Watershed Society / All Rights Reserved / if you wish to use any info for commercial or non commercial usage you must obtain permissions from The Veins of Life Watershed Society

Contact: John R. Roe volws@salishsea.ca

Fisheries and Oceans Canada - News Release

May 23, 2002


Victoria, B.C. – The Veins of Life Watershed Society (VOLWS), in partnership with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), released today an annual report on the Marine Mammal Monitoring Project (M3). The report outlines recent monitoring and outreach activities undertaken by VOLWS and DFO to promote local stewardship of marine mammals through the M3 project.

"DFO is working with local and U.S. partners to protect and conserve marine mammals by promoting responsible whale watching," said , Community Advisor for Fisheries and Oceans Canada. "We are also learning more about the frequency, nature and behaviour of whale watching vessels."

"We are creating awareness about how to minimize the impact humans have when viewing marine mammals," said Louise Murgatroyd, Project Co-ordinator with VOLWS, a non-governmental organization with a history of promoting green boating and concern for endangered species and near-shore marine pollution.

The M3 project promotes stewardship of marine mammals, birds and critical habitat by providing an outreach, education and monitoring program for recreational and commercial eco-tourists in the waters surrounding the San Juan Islands and the southern Gulf Islands. Many marine species, such as whales, seals, and sea lions, inhabit this trans-boundary area also known as the Salish Sea.

Stewardship and outreach activities have focused on promoting improved guidelines for responsible whale watching. Through community outreach at local events, boat shows and the distribution of an information brochure, Be Whale Wise, M3 is promoting responsible marine mammals viewing, especially for whales. While operating a stewardship patrol vessel in the trans-boundary waters M3 staff also provided information on marine mammals watching guidelines and advised boaters when undesirable behaviour occurred. After on-the-water observations, M3 staff provided commercial companies with whale watching compliance reports.

Between June and October 2001, the M3 team observed and recorded the behaviour of whale watching vessels. This included counting the number and type of vessels viewing whales, recording the behaviour of whale watchers, and observing the duration and locations of greatest intensity for whale watching. These observations give DFO and VOLWS a clearer picture of the type of whale watching activities taking place in the trans-boundary area.

Conservation concern around the impact of whale watching on whales and dolphins was identified in a report prepared for the department by Dr. Jon Lien of Memorial University of Newfoundland. Under the departmental mandate to conserve and protect marine mammals, DFO is working with VOLWS to gain more information about whale watching activities and promote stewardship of the species. This initiative is of growing importance since the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada listed resident killer whales as endangered, and transient killer whales as threatened in 2001.

The M3 project received $62,000 in funding from the Habitat Stewardship Program (HSP), a Government of Canada, partnership-based conservation initiative for Species at Risk. HSP is co-operatively managed by Environment Canada , Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Parks Canada, and administered by Environment Canada. The M3 project was augmented by an additional $122,000 in sponsor-matched funds. These matched funds were from U.S. and local partners including Friday Harbour Whale Museum’s Soundwatch in Washington, U.S.A., the B.C. Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks, Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific, Sun Cruiser Magazine, the Oak Bay Marina and other community partners.

The M3 annual report can be found on the Internet at www.salishsea.ca.

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© 2009 Veins of Life Watershed Society / All Rights Reserved / if you wish to use any info for commercial or non commercial usage you must obtain permissions from The Veins of Life Watershed Society