Bill applauded by charter group
The Washington state Legislature has passed House Bill 2514, a measure to protect orcas based on “Be Whale Wise,” the voluntary guidelines created by a group of organizations including the Whale Watch Operators Association Northwest (WWOANW).
The WWOANW applauded the Legislature for passing this bill to ensure that all vessels act respectfully and safely around the Southern resident orcas. The bill now goes to Governor Chris Gregoire to be signed into law.
“We have been voluntarily complying with the 100 yard/300 feet approach distance for a number of years” said Ivan Reiff, owner and captain of Western Prince Whale & Wildlife Tours. “We are happy to see these voluntary guidelines become law in Washington state, and especially to see the funding for additional recreational boater education.”
While passage of this bill is good news for the Southern resident orcas, there are two critical issues for the whales that must still be addressed – lack of their preferred food, chinook salmon, and the prevalence of toxic contaminants in the whales’ environment. Forecasts for West Coast salmon returns are bleak this year, with record lows predicted in some areas. WWOANW is involved with efforts, including the Puget Sound Partnership that will be working to remedy these issues.