Protect Our Oceans

Action for orca protection in Washington Legislature

Nearly 1500 individuals signed in to support an orca protection measure that the Washington state legislature is considering

NOAA | Public Domain

This week, legislators on the House Environment committee held a public hearing for HB 1145, a bill aiming to protect Southern Resident orcas from boats.

The policy would increase the distance that boaters must maintain from the endangered southern Resident orcas from 400 yards to 1000 yards, a change recommended by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) in a recent report.

The Southern Resident orcas are critically endangered, and noise from moving vessels and interfere with their ability to hunt. The chance that a female orca caught its intended prey when no moving vessels were in that range was nearly 50%; that dropped dramatically, to about 35% when vessels were moving at an average of just 1-2 knots, and to only about 10% when vessels were moving at 5-6 knots.

Simply increasing the buffer area that boaters must maintain around these orcas is one of the most simple, effective things we can do in the near term to help these vulnerable pods than make it easier for them to find and catch their prey.

Earlier this week, 1,496 Washingtonians signed in to support this bill at the public hearing, compared to 5 “con” sign-ins, demonstrating broad public support for increased orca protections.

Additionally, Environment Washington is joining the call to include funding in the state budget for projects to help replace the services provided by the Lower Snake River Dams, which block over 140 miles of pristine salmon habitat that Chinook Salmon, the orcas’ main food source, rely on.

Save Our Orcas
Orcas jumping

Wildlife & wild places

Save Our Orcas

Our Southern Resident orcas are starving. Fewer than 80 remain today and they are at risk of going extinct without urgent action.

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Pam Clough
Pam Clough

Former Advocate, Environment Washington

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