The federal government has released a recovery plan for an endangered population of killer whales likely to be in the path of increased oil tanker traffic off British Columbia's southern coast.

Environmental groups say the plan doesn't have enough concrete measures to bring orca numbers in the southern Georgia Strait back to healthy levels.

Federal officials acknowledge those orcas are highly vulnerable and have probably been affected by shipping and contaminants in the busy waterway.

They say those impacts could increase if new pipelines increase the number of oil tankers leaving from Vancouver.

The plan calls for intensive research on food supply, critical habitat and the effect of human activity such as noise from ships.

The World Wildlife Fund says the research will take too long and is calling for immediate regulations to protect the whales.

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