Killer whale recovery task force votes for a 3-5 year moratorium on commercial whale watching

According to KING5 TV, Governor Jay Inslee’s Southern Resident Killer Whale Recovery task force voted Tuesday, November 6, 2018 to recommend a three- to five-year moratorium on commercial whale watching for Southern Resident killer whales. Noise from vessels makes it more difficult for the whales to successfully forage for food. 

The whale watching industry is a $200 million business in Washington state. 

State Senator Kevin Ranker released a statement following the task force's vote.

"I am proud of the hard work, discussion and analysis we have put into these bold recommendations working toward recovery of the orca. The Task Force has worked very hard over the last six months developing major recommendations for the state to implement.

"We are recommending critical actions to protect and recover these magnificent creatures by reducing the risk of oil spills through banning offshore oil drilling, mandating tug escorts for all vessels transporting oil, and stationing an emergency rescue tug in the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca that can respond when a vessel is in distress.

"Additionally, the task force boldly recommended we protect the whales from vessel impacts through a suspension of whale watching of the southern residents, a new limited entry permit system for all commercial whale watching.

"Also, we are dramatically increasing protections for critical near shore habitat for forage fish, salmon, and whales.

"This report is just the first step. Our work is not finished, it has just begun. Implementation is critical as these recommendations go before the governor and Legislature. I pledge to work hard with my colleagues in the Legislature to enact bold policy to permanently protect our resident orcas.

"Now we must all unite to ensure these recommendations become law, so our children and grandchildren can experience that total sense of awe as they see a healthy and thriving southern resident orca population in our Salish Sea."

For more information about the impact of commercial whale watching on the SRKW pods read "Profits or protection? Killer whales in the San Juan Islands". 



  • West Side Resident
    West Side Resident Saturday, 10 November 2018 09:10 Comment Link

    When the Experts at Center for Whale Research say that noise pollution is not the problem and have been pointing out the problem for all these years which is lack of Salmon, and even the graphs submitted show very little difference when boats are around, banning the educational value of Whale Watching Excursions is simply a "knee jerk" political reaction to show a quick response to these political meetings. This is not the solution. You will simply stop the American vessels but not the Canadian vessels that number larger than ours. You can't legally stop a foreign vessel from "looking" at our shoreline and there happen to be whales there. There is one enforcement vessel from the Department of Fisheries already with cut funding for a huge area. Who will enforce this? You will need to look up the definition of "Right to Passage". Don't do this, its not the answer, just politics.

  • Amanda Azous
    Amanda Azous Thursday, 08 November 2018 09:42 Comment Link

    I appreciate your efforts Senator Ranker, however, nothing that is recommended here addresses the immediate need for food as these whales are starving. Habitat restoration will help in the long term but that is years out. Why isn't a moratorium on the Chinook fishery being considered?


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