Letter from scientists calling for rejection of Roberts Bank Terminal 2
There is a clear biological rationale for rejecting the RBT2 project if the recovery of at-risk species is a priority for the Government of Canada.
About the letter
In this letter, we highlight the role of British Columbia’s Fraser River Estuary as internationally and regionally important habitat for at-risk species, including Fraser River Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) and as the eastern terminus of critical habitat for Southern Resident killer whales (Orcinus orca).
We convey specific threats to these species from the project and provide supporting conclusions from the Impact Assessment Agency report that highlight the biological rationale for rejecting this project.
Specific threats posed by Terminal 2 to Fraser Chinook salmon
Fraser Chinook salmon are an international transboundary species with habitat ranges spanning from the Fraser River and the Salish Sea, to the North Pacific Ocean. They are subject to the international Pacific Salmon Treaty (PST), and are of ecological, economic, and cultural importance to both the United States and Canada.
The Impact Assessment report concluded that Terminal 2 would have adverse and cumulative effects on ocean-type juvenile Chinook salmon from the South Thompson and Lower Fraser portions of the Fraser River watershed. Fraser River Chinook salmon are also a known critical food source for Southern Resident killer whales.
Specific threats posed by Terminal 2 to Southern Resident killer whales
Southern Resident killer whales are a distinct transboundary population of Resident killer whales that are listed as endangered under Schedule 1 of Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA) and the US Endangered Species Act (ESA). As of Fall 2021, there are only 73 individuals remaining in this population, a drop of 25% in only 2.5 decades. Legally protected critical habitat for Southern Resident killer whales is located within the transboundary marine waters of the Salish Sea from the Juan de Fuca to Southern Georgia Strait.
The Impact Assessment Agency report concluded that Terminal 2 would result in significant adverse cumulative effects on Southern Resident killer whales due to impacts to Chinook salmon prey availability, underwater noise affecting their foraging success, and potential ship strikes.