Canada – Campbell River professional whale watching guide fined $10,000 under the Species At Risk Act for knowingly approaching Threatened killer whales
On September 13, 2021, in Campbell River Provincial Court, the Honourable Judge R. Lamperson found Nicklaus Templeman, the owner and operator of Campbell River Whale and Bear Excursions, guilty of violations under both the Species At Risk and Federal Fisheries Acts.
October 21, 2021
Campbell River, British Columbia – On September 13, 2021, in Campbell River Provincial Court, the Honourable Judge R. Lamperson found Nicklaus Templeman, the owner and operator of Campbell River Whale and Bear Excursions, guilty of violations under both the Species At Risk and Federal Fisheries Acts. Justice Lamperson ordered Mr. Templeman to pay a fine of $5,000 for each violation, for a total of $10,000. He also directed that these monies be used for the conservation and protection of marine mammals in the waters off British Columbia.
The sentence stems from a incident on May 27, 2019, when Mr. Templeman was observed by two other whale watching guides illegally approaching a killer whale within 35 metres near Willow Point. Mr. Templeman acknowledged over the VHF radio that he was aware of the presence of the whale pod. However, he continued to travel in their direction and positioned his vessel in a way to ensure that the whales would have to pass him in close proximity.
The Department has a mandate to protect and conserve marine resources and to prosecute offenders under the Fisheries and Species At Risk Acts. It ensures and promotes compliance with these Acts and other laws and regulations through a combination of land, air, and sea patrols, as well as education and awareness activities.
As part of Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s work to end illegal activity, the Department asks the public for information on activities of this nature or any contravention of the Fisheries Act and regulations. Anyone with information can call the toll-free violation reporting line at 1-800-465-4336, or email the details to DFO.ORR-ONS.MPO@dfo-mpo.gc.ca.
Record, Reporting line by the other whale watching guides and a Conservation and Protection fishery officer from the Campbell River Detachment went to assess the situation.
There were six to seven commercial whale watching vessels in the area of the incident who subsequently provided witness statements, as did several of the tourists who were on board. These witnesses also provided significant amounts of photos and video statements.
It is mandatory to respect the approach distances and other protective measures in place for marine mammals.
Section 7(2) of the Marine Mammal Regulations states that: disturb includes to approach the marine mammal to, or to attempt to trap it or its group between a vessel and the shore or between a vessel and one or more other vessels. Mr. Templeman contravened this section of the Fisheries Act by approaching from behind within 35 m and encircling the whales, and positioning his vessel near the shoreline, resulting in the two groups of Orca transiting between his vessel and the other whale watching vessels that were offshore.
The Species at Risk Act (SARA) is part of the Government of Canada’s commitment to keep Canadian wildlife species from becoming extinct and secure the necessary actions for their recovery. It provides for the legal protection of wildlife species and the conservation and preservation of their biological diversity.
Bigg’s killer whales are long-lived upper trophic level predators that are considered to be at risk due to small population size, very low reproductive rate (one calf approximately every five years), and high levels of chemical contaminants that are persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic. Because they rely on stealth and passive listening to detect prey, Bigg’s killer whales are at risk of habitat degradation through acoustic disturbance from underwater noise.
Leri Davies, Strategic Media Relations Advisor
Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Pacific Region
Tel: (604) 666-8675
Cell: (604) 612-6837