Species in the Spotlight: Priority Actions 2016-2020, Southern Resident Killer Whale
In 2015, NOAA Fisheries announced a new program to focus and redouble our efforts to protect eight species that are currently among the most at risk of extinction in the near future. This 5-year action plan focuses on priority actions for the Southern Resident killer whale.
The “Species in the Spotlight: Survive to Thrive” initiative is a concerted agency-wide effort to spotlight and save the most highly at-risk species. This initiative includes targeted efforts vital for stabilizing their populations and preventing their extinction. The approach involves intensive efforts by us and our recovery partners to stabilize these species. Our goal is to reverse their declining trend so that the species will become a candidate for recovery in the future.
The Southern Resident killer whale distinct population segment was chosen as one of the eight most at-risk species because the population has relatively high mortality and low reproduction and they are currently well below the population growth goals identified in their ESA Recovery Plan (NMFS 2008). Unlike other North Pacific killer whale populations, which have generally been increasing since federal protection was initiated in the 1970s, the Southern Resident population remains small and vulnerable and has not had a net increase in abundance since the mid-1980s.