Action Alert: Support Southern Resident orcas!

We want to remind you about this opportunity to take action in support of Southern Resident orcas!

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) needs to hear from YOU on its draft regulations for the Commercial Whale Watch Licensing Program. WDFW is required to use best available science to adopt rules that reduce the daily and cumulative impacts on Southern Resident orca whales, and consider the economic viability of license holders. Importantly, note that these regulations only restrict commercial whale-watching on the critically endangered Southern Residents, not any other orca or whale species or marine wildlife. Because there is so much to see in the Salish Sea, a state-commissioned study determined that there would be no economic impacts to the commercial whale-watching industry if they were prohibited from viewing Southern Residents.

Here’s how you can help reduce the impacts of vessel noise and disturbance (which has immediate benefits in helping the Southern Residents find scarce food, rest, and socialize):

Ask WDFW to make the following revisions to “Option A as filed” to better reflect the best available science and the critical status of the Southern Resident population:

  • Reduce the maximum number of whale-watching vessels with a group of Southern Resident orcas from 3 to 1.
  • Prohibit viewing groups of orcas when one of the orcas is known to be pregnant.
  • Prohibit the viewing of Southern Residents in low-visibility conditions such as fog.
  • Include a process for WDFW to close the viewing of Southern Residents in response to emergency conditions or if there are repeated violations of the rules.
  • Require whale-watch operators to provide immediate notifications to WDFW when approaching Southern Residents so that WDFW enforcement can be on scene to ensure that recreational and commercial vessels alike abide by all state laws.
  • Please also tell WDFW that further regulations are needed to address the impacts from recreational boaters.

Click here to submit comments online by December 5th.

Attend the December 4, 2020 online WDFW Commissioners’ public hearing on the Commercial Whale Watch Licensing Program regulations. If you are interested in providing public comment, please pre-register here . The agenda and more information about the hearing can be found on the WDFW website here.

Learn more:

Find More information from WDFW is here and you can see the comments from Friends of the San Juans here.

Read the op-ed in Crosscut, To help save orcas, pause whale watching.

Watch the documentary, Sentinels of Silence? Whale Watching, Noise, and the Orca, available on YouTube,and  you can also watch a panel discussion about the film moderated by Ginny Broadhurst (Director, Salish Sea Institute, WWU).

AND, you can pledge here to give the Southern Residents more space.

Thank you for learning more, taking action, and speaking up for the critically endangered Southern Resident orcas!

We chose to live on the westside of San Juan Island because of its natural beauty, and we want to preserve it for future generations. That’s where the Friends of the San Juans come in. Since their inception, they have been the guardians of the Salish Sea and this place we call home.

Glen and Deb Bruels

members, San Juan Island