With another orca presumed dead, Canada must protect orcas and stop Trans Mountain pipeline expansion


In response to the news that three-year old Southern Resident orca J50, also known as ‘Scarlet,’ is presumed dead, Greenpeace USA campaigner, Rachel Rye Butler said, “This is beyond heartbreaking. The dire situation of the endangered Southern Resident orca makes it all the more unconscionable that the Canadian government would consider building the Trans Mountain Expansion project.”

“The world has lost another endangered orca in the space of one month. This is now a matter of taking responsibility to protect an endangered species. J50 was emaciated and this death highlights the urgent need to take action to protect the remaining 74 endangered orcas, by restoring their food source and protecting where they feed by not allowing increased tar sands tanker traffic through their habitat.”

images of Southern Resident orca J50 (‘Scarlet’), taken on May 31st 2017 (left), August 1st 2018 (center) and September 3rd 2018 (right). In the 2018 photos, she is in poor body condition revealing a very thin profile and loss of fat behind the head. Images by Holly Fearnbach (SR3) and John Durban (NOAA).

“It’s not too late for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to stop the Trans Mountain Expansion project that could lead to the extinction of the Southern Resident orca. The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion would mean a seven-fold increase in tar sands tanker traffic through the orcas’ home,” Butler said.

Following a challenge by Indigenous Nations and environmental groups, a Canadian Federal Court ruled that the Canadian government failed to properly consult with First Nations on the Trans Mountain Expansion project and failed to properly consider the impacts of increased tanker traffic due to the project, including impacts on the endangered Southern Resident orca.

The Canadian government, under Trudeau, recently purchased the Trans Mountain pipeline and expansion project from U.S. oil giant Kinder Morgan for 4.5 billion Canadian dollars [about 3.5 billion USD] after Kinder Morgan abandoned the project and the government was unable to find another buyer.

Trudeau continues to push the project despite the threat to this endangered orca species.

A Greenpeace USA report confirmed increased oil tanker traffic from the proposed Trans Mountain Expansion project could deepen threats to marine life — including the region’s dwindling orca population — and impact coastal communities. The Canadian court ruled that the impacts of this increase in tanker traffic could not be excluded from the government’s review of the project.

Featured image: orca J50 with her mother, J16 near Port Renfrew, British Columbia, on August 7, 2018. Image credit NOAA Fisheries West Coast, CC BY-SA 3.0.

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Greenpeace is a global, independent campaigning organization that uses peaceful protest and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.

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