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Recovery Strategy for Blue, Fin, and Sei Whales in Pacific Canadian Waters [Proposed]

1. Introduction

Blue(Balaenoptera musculus), fin (B. physalus), and sei (B. borealis) whales are collectively referred to herein as balaenopterid whales (order Cetacea, suborder Mysticeti, family Balaenopteridae). Balaenopterids, together with the families Balaenidae and Eschrichtiidae comprise the baleen whales. Baleen whales are characterised by a unique method of feeding, where mouthfuls of water containing prey are strained through large baleen plates. This distinctive feeding behaviour allows these species to take advantage of concentrations of zooplankton or schooling fish.

The balaenopterid whales are considered collectively because of a similar geographic distribution and shared threats. These similarities have warranted the development of an integrated, multi-species Recovery Strategy.

This Recovery Strategy provides the scientific basis to recover the populations of blue, fin and sei whales that occur in Pacific Canadian waters off the coast of British Columbia. Knowledge about these whales is poor in Pacific Canadian waters. Therefore the collection of basic data on abundance and distribution, critical habitat, and threats is the first priority for their recovery. As information is gathered, the Recovery Strategy may be amended to incorporate new findings (a copy of the amendment must be included in the public registry www.sararegistry.gc.ca). 


This proposed Recovery Strategy for blue, fin, and sei whales in Pacific Canadian waters has been prepared in cooperation with jurisdictions responsible for the species, as described in Appendix I. Fisheries and Oceans Canada has reviewed and accepts this document as its Recovery Strategy for these species as required by the Species at Risk Act.

Success in the recovery of these whales depends on the commitment and cooperation of many different constituencies that will be involved in implementing the directions set out in this strategy and will not be achieved by Fisheries & Oceans Canada or any other jurisdiction alone. In the spirit of the National Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk, the Minister of Fisheries & Oceans invites all Canadians to join Fisheries & Oceans Canada in supporting and implementing this strategy for the benefit of blue, fin, and sei whales and Canadian society as a whole. Fisheries & Oceans Canada will support implementation of this strategy to the extent possible, given available resources and its overall responsibility for species at risk conservation. The Minister will report on progress within five years.

This strategy will be complemented by one or more action plans that will provide details on specific recovery measures to be taken to support conservation of these species. The Minister will take steps to ensure that, to the extent possible, Canadians interested in or affected by these measures will be consulted.

Responsible Jurisdictions

The responsible jurisdiction for blue, fin and sei whales in Pacific Canadian waters is Fisheries and Oceans Canada.  The Pacific populations of blue, fin and sei whales occur off the coast of the Province of British Columbia and the proposed National Marine Conservation Area off Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve.  The Province of BC and Parks Canada also cooperated in the development of this recovery strategy.


This document was prepared by E.J. Gregr, J. Calambokidis, L. Convey, J.K.B. Ford, R.I. Perry, L. Spaven, and M. Zacharias on behalf of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.


Fisheries and Oceans Canada is grateful to the generous contributions of Lance Barrett-Lennard, Richard Sears, and Greg Silber, for contributing their time and expertise to reviewing the document. Thanks are also extended to J. Breiwick, J. Calambokidis, A. McMillan, B. Mate, R. Sears, D. Smith, G. Steiger, and D. Sandilands for their personal contributions. Fisheries and Oceans Canada is also grateful to the technical experts involved in drafting the Recovery Strategy, for their time in meetings and revisions of the document.