Government of Canada announces significant investments in scientific research to protect Canada’s endangered whales

Government of Canada announces significant investments in scientific research to protect Canada’s endangered whales

March 8, 2019                                           

Vancouver, B.C. – Canada’s whales are iconic and breathtaking animals that are a vital part of our marine ecosystems. They are treasured by Canadians, hold significant cultural value for Indigenous and coastal communities, and boost local economies that rely on tourism. The Government of Canada is committed both to conserving whales and to strengthening our economy. We are taking action in collaboration with three Canadian universities to better understand the pressures facing endangered whales and to protect them from further harm.

Today, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, announced that the University of British Columbia, Dalhousie University and the Université du Québec à Montréal will receive a total of $2.9 million in funding, under the Whale Science for Tomorrow initiative, for scientific research on the Southern Resident Killer Whale, North Atlantic Right Whale and St. Lawrence Estuary Beluga.

A joint initiative between Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Whale Science for Tomorrow will strengthen the ability of Canadian universities to support the Government of Canada’s whale conservation objectives, while preparing the next generation of scientists to ensure the long-term conservation and recovery of these endangered whales. The investment will enable Canadian whale experts to advance our knowledge of the threats that face these magnificent marine mammals. Our improved understanding will provide decision-makers and policy advisors with the information they need to develop innovative solutions to support enhanced recovery efforts. This investment will support approximately 24 jobs in the next two to four years.

Three research projects, selected by a volunteer evaluation committee of representatives from academic and non-academic institutions, will receive investments under the Whale Science for Tomorrow initiative. These projects will encompass a range of activities:

  • Researchers from Dalhousie University will advance North Atlantic Right Whale assessment and monitoring technology to quantify risks and develop solutions to protect these whales in a changing ocean environment. Eight jobs will be supported by this investment.
  • University of British Columbia researchers will employ a variety of methods, including tracking and monitoring, to determine if Southern Resident Killer Whales are able to forage for enough of their preferred prey, Chinook Salmon, to meet their daily nutritional needs. Five jobs will be supported by this investment.
  • Researchers from the Université du Québec à Montréal will use innovative techniques to advance their knowledge of the exposure of St. Lawrence Estuary Belugas to marine contaminants and assess the impacts on this population. Eleven jobs will be supported by this investment.

The new partnerships and scientific results produced by these research initiatives will strengthen decision-making, resource management and conservation strategies to support the recovery of these whales in Canadian waters.

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