Action Alert: Speak up for Orcas and Salmon!

Here are two important comment opportunities for the Southern Resident orcas and native salmon species…

1) Protect Southern Resident Orcas Via the Commercial Whale Watch Licensing Program: 

In 2019 the Washington Legislature directed the WA Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to develop rules for a new commercial whale-watching licensing program. You have an opportunity to engage in this rulemaking on Thursday, May 28, at the online SEPA Scoping Public Meeting. Written comments can also be submitted by 5:00pm on Monday, June 8.

Friends of the San Juans is advocating for the commercial whale watch licensing requirements to protect Southern Resident orcas from noise and presence impacts. To help the Southern Residents orcas be as successful as possible when foraging and socializing, we are recommending no commercial whale watching of the Southern Residents from boats at this time. Commercial whale watch operators can still thrive as there are other marine mammals to watch including Bigg’s killer whales (aka transients), humpbacks, and minke whales. And shore-based whale watching is a great way to view the whales without causing any impacts.

This rulemaking is specific to commercial whale watch operators. Recognizing that boat noise and presence impacts also come from recreational boats, we will also advocate for future whale watching regulations to protect Southern Residents.

Click here for more information about the Commercial Whale Watch Licensing Program.

Register here to attend the SEPA Scoping Public Meeting online (registration required).

Click here to submit written comments by 5:00pm on June 8.

1) No to Net Pens Polluting the Salish Sea and Putting Native Fish Species at Risk: 

Still from a Wild Fish Conservancy video showing the broken pens from the fish farm off Cypress Island in Aug. 2017.

Do you remember Cooke Aquaculture’s Atlantic salmon fish farm net pen collapse near Cypress Island? Did you think the region had taken decisive action to phase out these fin fish net pens in our State? Well, there is more work to do on this important threat to our local marine ecosystems. Cooke Aquaculture wants to use their Salish Sea net pens to raise highly-domesticated, partially-sterile steelhead. The WA State Department of Ecology is currently seeking public comments on Cooke’s application to modify existing water quality permits. Ecology’s authorization is required under the Clean Water Act for Cooke to proceed. Your comments are needed to help ensure that the serious pollution and water quality risks posed by this industry are fully considered by Ecology during this permitting process.

To stand up to a billion-dollar corporation like Cooke, Ecology needs to receive unique comments from as many people as possible to protect our Salish Sea. Please ask your friends and family to join in this important comment opportunity.

Please use the comment letter writing guide on the Our Sound, Our Salmon* website to craft your own personalized comment that includes the information provided AND your own concerns that the permit process should address. Click here to submit your comments by June 8.

Click these links for stories about Cooke Aquaculture’s net pen collapse near Cypress Island – Journal of the San Juan Islands and Seattle Times.

Thank you for helping us protect what you love!

San Juan County is at the center of existing and proposed fossil fuel export projects. We have much to lose and nothing to gain. Our community needs to stay informed, get involved, and be part of the public process of understanding the approaching changes which will affect us all.

San Olson

member, Lopez Island