Statement from Pacific Whale Watch Association about 3-year suspension of whale watching

Governor Jay Inslee released his budget for the next biennium. It includes measures to help the federally endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale population. A three-year temporary suspension on all Southern Resident orca whale watching is part of the package. The Pacific Whale Watch Association issued the following statement:

“Whale watching and responsible no/low-impact ecotourism is critical to education and conservation efforts that we all are engaged in to protect all whales in the Salish Sea.

NOAA photo

"As the Legislature, the Governor’s Task Force, and the public continue working towards ensuring the safety of the Southern Residents, the conversation around these issues needs to remain focused solely on science-based actions that will best support the future of these whales, including go-slow zones aimed at quieting the waters. These are critical actions that the Pacific Whale Watch Association is deeply committed to in the upcoming legislative session and every day moving forward.

"Responsible ecotourism is a healthy and critical piece of conservation and education.”



  • Harry Branch
    Harry Branch Saturday, 15 December 2018 10:10 Comment Link

    The recommendations of the Southern Resident Task Force and the Puget Sound Action Agenda are not science-based bodies of work. The recommended actions, breaching dams on the Snake and Columbia Rivers, killing sea lions and limiting whale watching businesses may be advisable for other reasons but there is little science supporting supposed benefits to the SRKW orcas. We should put everything on the table and look for correlations.

    1. The palpable spacial and temporal correlations of geoduck aquaculture: This process involves repeated disturbances, disruption of life cycles of plants including sea grasses and macro algae, displacement of intertidal benthic biota and the blocking of outmigration of forage fish which are vital to the food web. The expansion has occurred immediately prior to the SRKW orca's difficulty finding food during this phase of their migration.

    2. What's happening immediately upstream: The poorest water quality in Budd Inlet is in East Bay, the estuary of Moxlie Creek, which runs through a long, intertidal culvert and over twenty smaller culverts upstream. The City of Olympia which has jurisdiction over 160 miles of culverted surface waters refuses to consider daylighting any section of any stream.

    3. Historic legacy nature of contamination: The chemicals of concern, PCBs and dioxin/furans, are not manufactured in any quantity. They come from historic sources, places like a culvert next to a dioxin hot spot that drains the Port of Olympia peninsula.

    There's a mountain of supporting science. Why are none of the above even included in the discussion? The reason lies under another correlation. Geoduck aquaculture is a highly profitable business. It brings money into the state from out of the country. Daylighting streams might impede real estate development which, once again, generates lots of money. And the sources of the worst contamination lie under industrial properties, once again where the money comes from.

  • Shirley and Dennis Sparks
    Shirley and Dennis Sparks Friday, 14 December 2018 09:12 Comment Link

    We have watched the “Whale Watching Boats” chase the Orcas in Boundary Pass for years. Within the past few years the boats are what notify us that the orcas are about to gather in front of our home at East Point, Saturna. Some boats are very loud. Some boats get way too close..sometimes blocking the orca’s path. Thirty-five years ago the Chinook salmon were abundant food along the shore and we, along with the orcas would catch a few. Not anymore. We have not seen a fish in years .. The billion dollar plan is just a start in the recovery of the orca.

  • G. Laurens
    G. Laurens Thursday, 13 December 2018 20:32 Comment Link

    Thank God the harassment of the whales by these boats will be forced to stop. It is laughable that they paint themselves as the heroes in the story. What doesn’t help must be treated as if it hinders until SCIENCE says otherwise!


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