September 5, 2018 3:27 pm
Updated: September 6, 2018 1:53 pm

Conservation groups file lawsuit to protect endangered orcas

WATCH: Six high-profile conservation groups are suing the federal government, demanding that Ottawa issue an “emergency order” to protect the endangered southern resident killer whales. Linda Aylesworth reports.

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Fisheries and Oceans Canada is being sued by six conservation groups who want to protect Southern Resident Killer Whales.

“The lawsuits up until this point have been about defining critical habitat. This lawsuit is about reducing the immediate threats on Southern Resident Killer Whales,” said Misty MacDuffee with the Raincoats Conservation Foundation.

She said the immediate threats are lack of access to food.

“We can be closing marine Chinook fisheries, and those are primarily recreational and commercial fisheries,” MacDuffee said, adding there is also a need for more space, “like reductions on targeted whale watching on Southern Residents to remove that close proximity of noise and disturbance to these whales.”

WATCH: Conservation groups say Ottawa not doing enough to protect orcas

READ MORE: Relief after ailing orca J50 spotted with pod Monday morning after absence

The lawsuit targets Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna.

In a statement earlier Wednesday, the federal government says it is dedicated to protecting the 75 Southern Resident whales that are left and it is reducing Chinook fisheries to increase the whales’ food source.

WATCH: B.C. conservation groups say they had no choice but to file orca lawsuit


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Earlier this year, the federal government declared that the population of Southern Resident Killer Whales is facing an imminent threat to their survival.

The whale known as J50 is very ill and is currently the focus of a multi-national treatment effort.

She has lost a great deal of weight in recent months and was lagging some distance behind her family group, struggling to keep up.

Over the past few months, officials on both sides of the border have been working to feed her live salmon containing antibiotics and administering a dose of antibiotics with a dart to help keep her strength and figure out what’s wrong with her.

WATCH: B.C. conservation groups hope orca lawsuit will force Ottawa to act

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