Environmental groups disappointed in Trudeau cabinet for not issuing emergency order to protect endangered orcas

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      Six conservation organizations have been frustrated by the federal cabinet's recent decision not to take stronger measures under the Species at Risk Act to protect three pods of orcas in the Salish Sea.

      “While we are pleased that the ministers recommended issuing an emergency order to protect the southern resident killer whales in the first place, we are deeply disappointed that cabinet rejected what we believe to be the best tool to recover these whales," reads a statement by the David Suzuki Foundation, Ecojustice, Georgia Strait Alliance, Natural Resources Defense Council, Raincoast Conservation Foundation, and WWF-Canada.

      "With only 74 remaining, southern residents are in crisis," the green groups added. "The government has promised to take comprehensive actions by April that will halt the decline and begin the recovery of these iconic whales. We and our supporters are committed to ensuring the government keeps its promise.”

      In September Ecojustice filed court action on behalf of the other organizations seeking an emergency order.

      They're calling for the designation of additional areas of protected habitat west of Vancouver Island.

      They've also proposed "feeding refuges" where fishing and whale-watching are prohibited, as well as the closure of marine and recreational chinook fisheries to leave more of these fish for orcas.

      In addition, the green groups want mandatory targets set to reduce noise from commercial vessels travelling in "critical habitat" for the orcas.