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SOURCE: The Guardian

DATE: November 22, 2018

SNIP: Endangered killer whales off Canada’s west coast were forced to contend with machine gun fire and smoke bombs after the government allowed the country’s navy to conduct live fire exercises in a protected area.

A strip of water roughly 45 nautical miles long and 6 nautical miles wide was temporarily closed to recreational and commercial fishing in June in an attempt to help the whales, also known as orcas, find more of their main food source, Chinook salmon.

But according to residents on the south-west coast of Vancouver Island, the Canadian navy and the US coast guard continued to conduct live fire exercises in those same waters, which the government designated as a critical habitat area earlier in the summer.

The area, in the Salish Sea between Vancouver Island and the US state of Washington, was re-opened in October. But with more fishing closures expected in the future, the decision to allow exercises to continue frustrated both local residents and marine biologists.

“They closed down this area to recreational fishing to save the whales, and then the navy sets off phosphorus bombs and 50 caliber guns,” said Paul Pudwell, a whale-watching captain in Sooke. “They do it 20, 30 times a year. We can’t fish there, but you can go shoot it up?”