October 31, 2018 8:38 pm

Feds to create ocean sanctuaries off Vancouver Island to protect endangered killer whales

WATCH: Group calls for end of all Chinook salmon fishing to save orcas

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VANCOUVER – The federal government has announced the creation of new ocean sanctuaries and chinook salmon enhancements, directing an additional $61.5 million to protect endangered killer whales.

Fisheries and Oceans Minister Jonathan Wilkinson says the government is looking at creating new areas of critical habitat off the west coast of Vancouver Island for southern resident killer whales.

READ MORE: Feds announce new monitoring of vessel noise impacts on endangered killer whales

Wilkinson says the protected areas of Swiftsure, in the Juan de Fuca Strait between Vancouver Island and Washington state, and Le Perouse Banks off Tofino, will be areas where the whales can spend significant time undisturbed.

The minister says the government will be able to prohibit a range of activities in these areas including shipping.

WATCH: Coverage of endangered orcas on Globalnews.ca

The new measures are part of a previously announced $167.4-million whales initiative aimed at improving prey availability and reducing disturbance to the whales.

Southern resident killer whales were listed as endangered in 2003, and only 74 of them remain in the wild.

© 2018 The Canadian Press

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