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

Ambulance service practises virtual reality CPR in Victoria

Training takes place on B.C. Parliament lawns

Block party hosted in Oak Bay to welcome two young Syrian refugees

Funds raised will support the brothers for first year on Island

Queue up a playlist of Victoria musicians

Local guitarist, Cody Rueger, creates playlist to highlight Victoria’s music scene

Risk of thunderstorms in Wednesday’s forecast

Plus a look ahead at the weekend forecast

VIDEO: Trans Mountain expansion project gets green light, again

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the decision in Ottawa on Tuesday afternoon

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of June 18

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you support the government’s decision to approve the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion?

The federal government announced Tuesday its approval for the Trans Mountain pipeline… Continue reading

Federal cabinet ministers visit Edmonton, Calgary, in wake of TMX approval

Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi is set to visit Trans Mountain Corp.’s terminal in Edmonton

B.C. municipality prepares to forbid overnight camping by homeless despite court ruling

While courts have ruled against blanket bans, Langley City is employing a site-by-site approach

B.C. auditor says Indigenous grad rate highest ever but education gaps exist

The percentage of Indigenous students graduating from B.C. public high schools has hit its highest level ever

Statistics Canada reports annual pace of inflation rises in May to 2.4%

Transportation prices gained 3.1 per cent as the cost of air transportation added 8.9 per cent

BREAKING: Forest fire on North Island disrupts Hwy. 19

Wildfire has reached .25 hectares, according to BC Wildfire Service

Man to be sentenced for sexual abuse of young girl in Nanaimo

Stephen Mark Castleden also sentenced for child pornography-related charges

Most Read