Killer whales and legislation/management

From: Dagmar Fertl (
Date: Mon Nov 17 2003 - 16:39:16 EST

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    Hi. I am a student at Episcopal High School and I am doing a project on Orca Whales due Friday the 21st of November. I have been researching for a couple weeks and there is some information that I haven't been able to find. I know there are laws and places protecting Orca Whales but I dont know any specifics. If you could e-mail me back and tell me some laws and under what circumstances and places etc. that protect and concern Orca Whales that would be GREATLY appriciated.

    I'm not sure how you've been searching for information on laws (legislation) and killer whales, because there is actually a bunch of information out there, including on the Internet. I think you might be having a hard time finding information if you're looking for it under the name 'orca whale'. Scientists and the general public seem to have two different names for killer whales, which is how I often know how scientifically-oriented someone is by the way to refer to killer whales (the general public calls them 'orcas' or even 'orca whales'). That said, I would recommend using the term 'killer whale'.

    In the U.S., all marine mammals have been protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) since 1972. Information on the MMPA can be found at the National Marine Fisheries Service, Protected Resources webpage at:

    Additionally, that website of: has some good information on whalewatching guidelines for killer whales, information on the 'depleted' status of killer whales in Puget Sound:

    The Killer Whale is listed under Appendix II of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, 1973). Thus, international trade of Killer Whales or parts thereof by any countries which are Parties to CITES requires export permits from the country of origin. In practice, the European Community treats all cetaceans as if they were listed in Appendix I, under which trade must not be primarily for commercial purposes. Unfortunately not all whaling countries are members of CITES, and listing on Appendix II does not provide protection per se. It does, however, mandate recording of international trade.

    Killer Whales are considered "small cetaceans" by the International Whaling Commission (IWC), which means that some IWC management measures (e.g., the Southern Ocean Sanctuary, moratorium on commercial whaling, etc.) do not apply to this species. In 1980 the IWC did, however, include the Killer Whale in their moratorium on factory ship whaling.

    There are no management measures in Greenland or Iceland that provide protection for the species.

    Legislation to protect the Killer Whale in Canadian waters was first introduced in 1970, under British Columbia's Wildlife Act. In 1982, the species became included in regulations under the Fisheries Act of Canada. These regulations prohibit hunting without a licence, except for aboriginal hunting. None of these licences are being issued. "Whale watching guidelines" and other public outreach measures are being taken to minimize the negative interactions between boats and whales.

    Last, but certainly not least, the following website has some excellent information reviewing killer whale legislation; it is written by a world authority (Dr. Robin Baird) on killer whales:

    Good luck with the report!
    Dagmar Fertl

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