Today (Jan 15th) Is The Last Day To Have Your Opinion Counted On The New Vessel Regulations

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Last chance to weigh in on this issue! NOAA is doing its best to fulfill the job we gave them to do: save the endangered Southern Resident orcas. As part of their plan, they have decided to set aside an important area as a seasonal refuge, but are considering all of our opinions and comments (see below).

My own opinion: I think the orcas deserve a quiet place to go about their lives, and the amount of space NOAA is considering dedicating to a seasonal refuge for the whales is relatively small compared to the distances the orcas can travel daily (75 – 100 miles).

CWR 2009 Photo by Erin Heydenreich

The problem, of course, is that the proposed area, along the west side of San Juan Island, is also one of the best places to view them, and those whale watching companies that respect and know the whales bring excitement and awareness to thousands of people each year. The orcas seem to be indifferent to or even interested in us most of the time…but there may just be too many boats, too often, and too close.

What are your ideas to balance our needs against the orcas? Please let NOAA know!

In a nutshell:

The government is considering enacting the following regulations in order to enhance the recovery of our locally endangered population of orcas (please see previous posts for details):

Most boats will be required to stay 200 yards away from of any killer whales in the inland waters of Washington.

A restricted zone along the west coast of San Juan Island extending a half a mile out will be established in which most boats will be prohibited from entering between May 1st and September 30th, starting in 2010.

Intercepting the path of any killer whale in inland waters of Washington will be prohibited.

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