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.

BC legislatureTrans Mountain pipeline

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Haida Gwaii libraries launch new ‘takeout’ curbside pickup service

As of June 5, cardholders can once again access physical copies of books, DVDs and more

Blacktail Haida Gwaii working to reopen with new covered patio

Chef-owner Edi Szasz hopes to reopen on June 25, the one-year anniversary of the restaurant

Skidegate daycare staff recognized for creative care during COVID-19

Staff have been using social media to share isolation activities, read stories and sing songs

Village of Queen Charlotte approves business facade improvement grants

Applications from Gather, dental clinic, A Level Up approved, leaving about $14,000 up for grabs

Recycling services in Queen Charlotte, Port Clements expanding next week

Residential plastics will be accepted again, but most residential transfer stations remain closed

VIDEO: B.C. dentist gets grand welcome home after two months in hospital fighting COVID-19

Michael Chow was given a surprise send off by hospital staff and ‘welcome home’ from neighbours

‘Like finding a needle in a haystack’: Ancient arrowhead discovered near Williams Lake

The artifact is believed to be from the Nesikip period between 7,500 BP to 6,000 BP

Friends, family mourn Salt Spring Island woman killed in suspected murder-suicide

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched for Jennifer Quesnel’s three sons

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Indigenous chief alleges RCMP beat him during arrest that began over expired licence plate

Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adam calling for independent investigation

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Indigenous families say their loved ones’ deaths in custody are part of pattern

Nora Martin joins other Indigenous families in calling for a significant shift in policing

UPDATED: Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park arrested

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

Most Read