A non-profit organization on the South Island is hatching a plan to fatten up the pods resident southern orcas off of Vancouver Island. Cort Smith reports.
They’re hoping give the endangered whales the kind of fish feed they haven’t seen in decades around these parts.
The Salish Sea orcas, also known as the southern residents are the only orca group that is listed as endangered.
And it’s no coincidence that dwindling numbers of these fish eaters coincides with declining salmon stocks off the west coast.
That is where the South Vancouver Island Anglers Association comes in. They’re hatching a plan to fatten up the southern resident orcas.
“We’ve been working with DFO,” says Rollie Rose, who represents the association, “and we’ve just been granted permission to collect about 200 thousand Chinook eggs this fall. The Nitinat hatchery will collect them for us.”
Next spring they’ll truck those fish down to the Sooke Harbour, where they’ll be held in pens for the short term.
“We’ll hold them for three to four weeks to get them a little bit bigger, increase their survival rate, and also get them imprinted to the Sooke River water so they return here and not to the Nitinat” said Rose.
They’ll then release the fish into the waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, in the hopes that a few hundred thousand adults will return four years later, and provide a more stable supply of food for the killer whales.
The whales wouldn’t be the only ones to potentially benefit from the plan, commercial and First Nations fisheries could prosper as well.
And association doing it all on their own dime.
“There’s no government money at all , the South Vancouver Island Coalition is taking this on. I run the Juan de Fuca fishing derby, the proceeds from that derby will go towards that project,” said Rose.
Now that the group has DFO approval, they’re not anticipating a lot of opposition to the plan.
But anyone who does have concerns or questions is welcome to attend a public meeting in the Sooke Town Hall tomorrow night at 7:00.