Manitoba plans to preserve belugas
Manitoba has released a plan to preserve the world's largest population of belugas while numbers of the white whales with the characteristic smiley face are still strong.
“We have a healthy population, but the environment is changing,” said Manitoba Conservation Minister Tom Nevakshonoff. “It's a rare opportunity when you can take something that's not in distress and focus on it now to preserve that rather than doing damage control.”
Nearly 60,000 belugas migrate along the Hudson Bay coast. In the summer, whales stop where the Churchill, Nelson and Seal rivers flow into the bay to feed, give birth and nurture their young.
“When belugas are in those estuaries, you're not just seeing a beluga in there sporadically,” said Chris Debicki of Oceans North Canada, an environmental group that worked with the province on the plan. “You're literally seeing hundreds and sometimes thousands of belugas at the same time.”
The plan, which Nevakshonoff refers to as a “discussion document,” involves protecting sections of the coastline as well as the outflow area of the Seal River.
Manitoba is asking Ottawa to extend the Arctic Waters Pollution Protection Act to cover the waters off the mouths of the three rivers.