Ottawa says orca protection part of $1.5 billion marine protection plan

Orcas swimming near B.C.'s Gulf Island in December 2015. Photo By Ken Balcomb/The Associated Press.

The federal government says part of its $1.5 billion ocean protection plan includes new measures to protect British Columbia's endangered southern resident killer whales.

North Vancouver MP Jonathan Wilkinson, who is the parliamentary secretary for the minister of environment and climate change, says the government will move to reduce shipping noise and vessel traffic in sensitive orca zones in B.C.'s waters.

Noise from increased shipping traffic, especially oil tankers, has been cited as a threat to whale populations should the federal Liberal government approve oil pipeline projects proposed for the West Coast.

The government is expected to announce next month whether it will approve the proposed expansion of a Kinder Morgan pipeline from Alberta to B.C.

The plan announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday aims to improve Canada's ability to respond to oil spills and take measures to protect its oceans.

Wilkinson says the plan also includes six new lifeboat stations on B.C.'s coast, with three on Vancouver Island at Victoria, Port Renfrew and Nootka Sound near Gold River.

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