A Washington state task force on critically endangered Northwest orcas has offered its full slate of recommendations to Gov. Jay Inslee ahead of the next legislative session.
The task force listed approximately three dozen recommendations to save a population that is at its lowest in over 30 years.
Gov. Inslee stated, “I will review these recommendations over the coming weeks, and my staff and I will assess each one for the most impact in the short and long-term. I will roll out my budget and policy priorities in mid-December for consideration during the 2019 Legislative Session.”
The first goal listed by the group would be to increase Chinook abundance by restoring and acquiring salmon habitat and food sources. This includes a recommendation that emphasizes “large-scale estuary restoration programs” with focus on certain rivers, including the Chehalis. Grant funding for restoration that increases Chinook recovery in the short term would be prioritized.
Other recommendations could mean temporarily suspending whale-watching boat tours focused on those whales, purchases of habitat, greater emphasis of laws to protect salmon, an increase of hatchery production, and other plans.
Inslee said he will review the proposals before finalizing his state budget and policy priorities next month.
Southern Resident Killer Whale Recovery and Task Force
On March 14, 2018 the governor signed Executive Order 18-02 designating state agencies to take several immediate actions to benefit southern residents, and establishing a Task Force to develop a longer-term action recommendations for orca recovery and future sustainability. The governor invited members of the Legislature, the Government of Canada, representatives from tribal, federal, local and other state governments, the private sector and the non-profit sector to participate in the Task Force. The Task Force also includes designees from the lead state agencies, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Puget Sound Partnerships, and from multiple other state agencies.
Final report and recommendations
On November 16, the Task Force released a final comprehensive report and recommendations for recovering Southern Residents. The report details potential options to address the major threats to Southern Residents, including prey availability, toxic contaminants and disturbance from noise and vessel traffic.The governor and staff will assess each recommendation for the most impact in the short and long-term.
The governor will roll out his budget and policy priorities in mid-December for consideration during the 2019 Legislative Session.
Draft report versions and public comments
- A draft report of potential recommendations was released on September 24, 2018.
- A second report outlining the progress made, lessons learned, and outstanding needs was completed by October 1, 2018.
- The draft recommendations portion of the report above were revised October 24. They were updated based on discussions at the October 17-18 Task Force meeting.
Public comments were accepted on these draft reports and recommendations and provided to the task force for consideration.
General public comments
Please use this link to submit any general feedback or comments to the Southern Resident Killer Whale Task Force.