(Canadian Press)

Ottawa spends $9.1 million on studies aimed at protecting whales

Money will be used to develop and test technologies to lower the risk of collisions

The federal government is spending more than $9.1 million to develop and test technologies that alert vessels to the presence of whales, lowering the risk of collisions.

Fisheries and Oceans Minister Dominic LeBlanc says the government will also spend more than $3.1 million on four research projects to help protect endangered southern resident killer whales.

The University of British Columbia will examine how the whales have been affected by changes in the supply and quality of chinook salmon, its source of food.

Another study by Ocean Wise will assess the impact environmental stressors are having on the whales, particularly noise and limits on prey.

LeBlanc said there is a responsibility to ensure whales are protected for future generations.

Several conservation groups recently said the federal government’s failure to issue an emergency order reducing threats to southern resident killer whales off the B.C. coast ahead of fishing and whale-watching season could mean the species’ extinction.

There are 76 southern resident killer whales left and the groups said they have up to a 50 per cent chance of disappearing in the next century.

The population has declined from a high of 96 in 1993.

The Canadian Press

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