NOAA Fisheries commends Governor Inslee for convening the Task Force on Southern Resident Killer Whales and the Task Force co-chairs, members, and working groups for crafting a broad package of recovery recommendations for this signature Washington species. As a member of the Task Force and the Federal lead for recovery, NOAA Fisheries appreciated the opportunity to discuss this critical issue through a robust public process and looks forward to pursuing actions together that will support recovery of Southern Resident killer whales and their salmon prey.
The Task Force recommendations supplement and complement NOAA Fisheries’ 2008 Recovery Plan for Southern Residents with thoughtful and effective actions that address the three main threats to the whales: lack of prey, vessel traffic and noise, and contaminants. The Task Force recommendations also draw from and support the long-term recovery programs for Chinook salmon, the primary prey for the whales. NOAA Fisheries has helped lay groundwork for some of the recommendations through research on each of the threats and critical grant programs, such as the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund which supports habitat restoration and Endangered Species Act grants which fund enforcement of vessel regulations by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The Governor’s Task Force has helped focus public attention and energy on Southern Resident recovery when it is so urgently needed. We look forward to continuing this important collaboration with the State, tribes, Task Force, and public to implement these recommendations as soon as possible.