The countless hours spent scouring legal documents, appearing in court and enduring what must have been trying exchanges with the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) by our awesome lawyers at Ecojustice has all paid off. Last week we received news that the longtime legal case came to a close in a precedent setting VICTORY for B.C.'s threatened and endangered resident killer whales. After years of facing threat after threat, and population declines, these iconic creatures certainly needed a win.
It's true what they say "fame doesn’t mean happiness" and it seems especially true of the natural world. In many cases, the more revered and sought-after a species is, the more at-risk it becomes. In other cases, even if an iconic species is not sought-after directly, its fame certainly does not buy it a guarantee of protection. This has been the case for the killer whales. No guarantee of its prey and no guarantee of a clean, disturbance and noise-free environment. But thanks to the recent ruling by the Federal Court of Appeal, there is hope for this to change.
The gist of the legals is as follows.... Last Thursday the Federal Court of Appeal upheld the 2010 ruling (and victory for us!) that guaranteed the protection of killer whale habitat by law under the Species at Risk Act (SARA). Our lawyers informed us that the Appeal Court’s ruling was an uncommonly strong judgment, and a controversial one for DFO after the court awarded us costs noting that the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans' behaviour had been "worthy of rebuke." Finally, justice (or karma) was served.
So, as Ecojustice and the nine client environmental groups (David Suzuki Foundation, Dogwood Initiative, Environmental Defence, Greenpeace, Georgia Strait Alliance, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Raincoast Conservation, Sierra Club of BC and the Wilderness Committee) look to the future of our resident orcas, we will continue to push for a brighter one. This means keeping pressure on the feds to: eliminate added toxic threats from tanker traffic and other points of pollution; improve management of BC's wild salmon to ensure the orcas have enough to eat; reduce vessel traffic and other sources of noise pollution; establish no-take marine reserves to provide safe havens; and encourage wildlife viewers to do so in a respectful and peaceful way.
If the orcas and other marine species at risk are to recover and flourish, we need to make sure strong action is taken to allow the protection they need. To see how far we've come, you can scroll back through our blog posts over the last few years, and to stay up on where we're going in our quest to ensure this ruling doesn't only stay on paper, follow this space.
Thanks to all of our supporters and members of the public who helped achieve this victory!