The southern resident killer whale population depends heavily on salmon, and is affected by ship traffic in its feeding and migration areas. (Black Press files)

B.C. NDP challenged on their selective oil tanker opposition

Ferries greater threat to killer whales, opposition MLAs say

B.C. Premier John Horgan and Environment Minister George Heyman defended their opposition to the Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion Wednesday, as opposition critics pointed to evidence that Alaska oil tankers, B.C. Ferries and other shipping are a bigger risk to resident killer whales than one extra tanker a day from B.C.

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson referred to a recent study in the journal Nature that describes risks affecting southern resident killer whales. That study concluded that “acoustic and physical disturbances” from shipping are a threat, as the Salish Sea sees increasing shipping of all kinds.

“The expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline would result in 29 extra sailings per month, about one per day,” Wilkinson told the legislature. “The environment minister recently defended the addition of 2,700 sailings per year by B.C. Ferries, on top of the existing 117,000 sailings by B.C. Ferries.”

Heyman referred repeatedly to a “seven-fold increase” in tanker traffic that the Trans Mountain expansion would generate, as oil shipments from Trans Mountain’s Burnaby terminal are expected to increase from one a week to one per day. The pipeline twinning was recommended to proceed by the National Energy Board for a second time Feb. 22, with a proposal to reduce impact from all shipping in the region to mitigate the additional tankers.

READ MORE: Crude by rail in Western Canada hits new record volume

READ MORE: B.C. Ferries to add 2,700 more sailings to coastal routes

B.C. Liberal environment critic Peter Milobar said energy shipments represent only one per cent of the noise pollution affecting resident killer whales, and in the Salish Sea the majority of tanker traffic is from Alaska to Washington state refineries.

Heyman responded that U.S. tankers are outside B.C.’s jurisdiction. The NDP government is continuing a court case in an effort to define provincial jurisdiction in oil transportation, which is federally regulated because it begins in Alberta and terminates in B.C. and Washington, where it has supplied refineries and tankers since 1954.

The southern resident killer whale population has been intensively studied by Canadian and U.S. researchers. Its population has fluctuated between 70 and 99 orcas since 1976, and as of 2017 it numbered 76 members. With a range from Alaska to California, the resident group is currently listed as endangered by Fisheries and Oceans Canada.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

District of Lantzville making changes around how it spends surplus money

Changes would ‘hamstring’ council’s ability to manage money, argues councillor

Nanaimo youth theatre group presenting ‘Hairspray Jr.’

Headliners director and actors agree musical’s message continues to resonate

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Say no to plastic straws

Straws make drinking frappuccinos easier, but they kill sea creatures, says letter writer

Crews putting out one of the first wildfires of the season in Nanaimo

Nanaimo Fire Rescue, B.C. Wildfire Service on scene at Doumont Road fire

Nanaimo ferry stops to let bear swim past

Queen of Oak Bay brakes for wildlife

Wheelchair basketball in Nanaimo accessible to all abilities

Harbour City Slam play day introduced newcomers to the sport

Nanaimo set to celebrate its heritage

Nanaimo Heritage Days takes places Sunday at Maffeo Sutton Park

RCMP arrest violent offender on Vancouver Island

Police struggle with suspect and take him down with a taser

Canadian killed in Honduras plane crash

The crash happened in the Roatan Islands area, according to officials

Mother dead, child in critical condition after carbon monoxide poisoning at Shuswap campground

The woman was found unresponsive insider her tent and the youth was taken via air ambulance to hospital

Canada’s parole officers say correctional system has reached breaking point

About half of Canada’s federal parole officers work inside penitentiaries and correctional institutions

Montreal researchers create audible hockey puck for visually impaired players

Three years ago, Gilles Ouellet came up with the idea for a puck that makes a continuous sound

Vancouver Island MusicFest: ‘House bands’ from the golden age of rock and R&B

Some of America’s greatest session musicians are coming to the Comox Valley this summer

Former B.C. Greyhound bus drivers head to Penticton for goodbye party

Big bash runs until Sunday, funded by drink cans left behind on busses over the years

Most Read