A female resident orca whale breaches while swimming in Puget Sound near Bainbridge Island as seen from a federally permitted research vessel Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014. (Elaine Thompso/The Canadian Press)

A female resident orca whale breaches while swimming in Puget Sound near Bainbridge Island as seen from a federally permitted research vessel Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014. (Elaine Thompso/The Canadian Press)

Conservationists want emergency order to save killer whales

Several groups, such as Ecojustice and David Suzuki Foundation, sent petition to fisheries minister

Several conservation groups say the federal government’s failure to issue an emergency order reducing threats to endangered orcas off the B.C. coast ahead of fishing and whale-watching season could mean their extinction.

Ecojustice, the David Suzuki Foundation, Georgia Strait Alliance, Natural Resources Defence Council, Raincoast Conservation Foundation and World Wildlife Fund sent a petition to Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc on Jan. 30.

The group says LeBlanc failed to recommend an emergency order to cabinet by March 1, which could have seen priority feeding refuges established, fishing restricted and speed reductions for commercial vessels put in place for the season.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans identified the same priorities in a report released last month.

The report said that the species is on a trajectory to disappear unless further efforts are taken.

Misty MacDuffee, with the Raincoast Conservation Foundation, says the situation is critical for the remaining 76 southern resident killer whales which have up to a 50 per cent chance of disappearing in the next century.

The Canadian Press