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Canada Plans to Eliminate Humpback Whale Protections

Canada Plans to Eliminate Humpback Whale Protections

Humpback whales are doing just fine, Canadian officials have decided. Nevertheless, the current plan to eliminate the “threatened” status for humpbacks residing off the coast of British Columbia and thereby remove governmental protections for the species has many environmentalists concerned, reports CBC News.

Primarily, conservationists are skeptical about the timing of this decision. With the Canadian government poised to approve the Northern Gateway pipeline project in a couple of months, critics find it a little too convenient that changing the whales’ designation would suddenly enable oil companies free passage through the humpbacks’ favorite waterways.

If approved, the Northern Gateway pipeline would send oil tankers right through areas where humpbacks raise their children and eat. Since ship collisions are one of the prime killers of whales, this change would leave humpbacks vulnerable to fatalities. On top of that, the heightened risk of an oil spill could prove even more devastating by poisoning the whales. Some biologists believe that the whales would be displaced altogether by the sudden tanker traffic and search for other habitats (which aren’t exactly plentiful) that lack the constant interruptions.

Contributing to the suspicious timing theory is that biologists first recommended that humpback whales could be taken off the threatened list three years ago. At the time, government officials decided to ignore that recommendation because the majority of the public wanted to continue prioritizing the protection of the whales. Apparently, this popular opinion holds less weight now that corporate oil interests come into play.

Not everyone has a bleak perspective on the anticipated status change, however. “This is actually a good news story,” said Andrews Trites, a marine mammal biologist. “We’re seeing more humpback whales in B.C. than we’ve ever seen before.” From his research, he believes that more than 2,000 whales spend time off the coast of British Columbia and that the population is currently growing at an impressive rate of 4 percent each year.

Fortunately, the whales would not be forgotten altogether. Rather than being labeled a “threatened” species, they would instead officially be designated a “species of special concern.” Although protections would be limited for the humpback population under this new status, the whales would be continually monitored and the government would need to develop a “management plan” for the species.

Environmentalists argue that even if the humpback population has rebounded, its numbers would decrease again once the protections were removed. While Trites acknowledges that the threats activists have listed are likely to do significant damage, hypotheticals are not enough to alter policy. “We can only change things that are real,” he said. In other words, prevention is not a good enough reason – many whales would actually have to start dying again for subsequent changes to be made.

Would it be easy to reinstate humpback whales as “threatened” in B.C. if the pipeline project was found to endanger them? Certainly, it’s not hard to figure that once the oil industry successfully sets up shot in that part of the ocean that it’ll be hard to take it back.

Therefore, the best move is to convince the government not to follow through on the plan to un-”threaten” the humpback whales in the first place. Sign this petition urging Canadian officials to keep the current protections in place.

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314 comments

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10:09AM PDT on Jul 23, 2014

Save the whales. It is too easy to eliminate a species.

12:11AM PDT on Jun 8, 2014

Every country in the world abuses animals. Pity any poor animal born into a world where there are humans.

12:02AM PDT on Jun 8, 2014

"Canada does not seem to be a friendly Country for animals."

In a lot of ways, canada is (in a lot of ways, it is not). The issue with this is that we've had the last 3 elections stolen by a group of evangelical fundementalists who believe the all mighty dollar rules everything (along with jesus) and that the environment can't possibly be getting screwed up (God said so!).

Hopefully these next elections will lead a more sane government in that will upkeep this ban.

5:22AM PDT on May 31, 2014

I was so upset about this!

9:37PM PDT on May 18, 2014

I just hope Canada doesn't make the same mistakes the US does on protections.

6:11AM PDT on May 12, 2014

Canada does not seem to be a friendly Country for animals.

3:43PM PDT on May 11, 2014

"Shan D. Canadians aren't an "entire country" Like everywhere else there are good people and evil monsters living in a land area, in this case in a northern territory called "Canada". The reason the world is "slagging Canada" as you put it, is the huge amount of cowards in Canada who think their selfish lives are protected if they won't take a single step to get rid of their tyrannical, criminal "socialist" government led by a prime minister tyrant, or who defend their right to commit the same crimes themselves." (Mark D.)

Mark, don't presume to teach me about my own country. I've lived here for twice as many years as you've been alive, in a province where we've essentially had the SAME GOVERNMENT FOR NEARLY 45 YEARS. All that's changed has been the Premier - same party, same lack of regard for the environment. But now that we've got the Canadian version of the Tea Party running the country - and a PM *from* my province - things have really gone to hell. Socialist? Come here and say that. Our government is definitely *not* socialist, communist, or any other erroneous labels misinformed Americans like to hang on it. And FYI: I've never voted right-wing in my life. If Helga didn't intend to slag all Canadians, she should have used the word "some."

3:28PM PDT on May 11, 2014

Shan D. Canadians aren't an "entire country" Like everywhere else there are good people and evil monsters living in a land area, in this case in a northern territory called "Canada". The reason the world is "slagging Canada" as you put it, is the huge amount of cowards in Canada who think their selfish lives are protected if they won't take a single step to get rid of their tyrannical, criminal "socialist" government led by a prime minister tyrant, or who defend their right to commit the same crimes themselves.

1:32AM PDT on May 11, 2014

Helga G., I noticed what a whiny, self-pitying profile you have. While I can sympathize with a troubling family life, that doesn't give you the excuse to slag an entire country for the wrongdoings of a relative few.

And WTF does Justin Bieber have to do with this? If the U.S. wants him, you can keep him - he's a national embarrassment.

10:43AM PDT on May 10, 2014

Canada-Take Bieber off the endangered list.

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Beth Buczynski Beth is a freelance writer and editor living in the Rocky Mountain West. So far, Beth has lived in... more
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