Southern Resident Killer Whale ESA Recovery Plan Implementation - Prey Availability

Healthy killer whale populations are dependent on adequate prey levels. Reductions in prey availability may force whales to spend more time foraging and might lead to reduced reproductive rates and higher mortality rates. The Southern Residents have experienced significant changes in food availability during the past 150 years because of human impacts on prey species.

Widespread reductions in salmon abundance from British Columbia to California during this period have likely had the greatest effects on the whales. Wild salmon have declined primarily because of degradation of aquatic ecosystems resulting from modern land use changes, overharvesting, and hatchery production. The recovery plan (1.7MB) calls for support of ongoing restoration efforts for depleted salmon populations:

1.1 Rebuild depleted populations of salmon and other prey to ensure an adequate food base for recovery of the Southern Residents.

West Coast Salmon Recovery Planning & Implementation

Puget Sound Salmon Recovery

Puget Sound Partnership Link to a non-government website

1.1.1 Support salmon restoration efforts in the region.

Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund

Restoration volunteer opportunities in your state

What you can do to support salmon recovery efforts

1.1.2 Support regional restoration efforts for other prey species.

Restoration on the West Coast

Track restoration projects in your state

Essential Fish Habitats on the West Coast

1.1.3 Use NMFS authorities under the ESA and the MSFCMA to protect prey habitat, regulate harvest, and operate hatcheries.

            Killer Whale-Salmon Fisheries Interactions