In the Mailbag

Posted November 19, 2018 at 5:44 am by

Here’s a let­ter from Kyle Wall and the Pacif­ic Whale Watch Association…

State­ment from the Pacif­ic Whale Watch Asso­ci­a­tion (PWWA):

The Pacif­ic Whale Watch Asso­ci­a­tion (PWWA) is a com­mit­ted part­ner focused on efforts to pro­tect the health of the South­ern Res­i­dent killer whale pop­u­la­tion. We appre­ci­ate the work of our fel­low mem­bers on the Governor’s South­ern Res­i­dent Killer Whale Recov­ery and Task Force and sup­port a major­i­ty of the bold actions rec­om­mend­ed in the Task Force’s report.

As these rec­om­men­da­tions move to the Governor’s office, PWWA urges imple­men­ta­tion of rec­om­men­da­tions that focus on the goal of address­ing the crit­i­cal issue of the lack of Chi­nook salmon in the waters of the Sal­ish Sea. We encour­age Gov­er­nor Inslee to focus on sci­ence-based solu­tions sup­port­ed by PWWA’s research com­mu­ni­ty part­ners, includ­ing orga­ni­za­tions such as the Cen­ter For Whale Research, Orca Con­ser­van­cy and the Orca Behav­ior Insti­tute, as he eval­u­ates the rec­om­men­da­tions of the Task Force

Specif­i­cal­ly, PWWA looks for­ward to con­tin­u­ing con­ver­sa­tions around ves­sel activ­i­ty around each of the 74 South­ern Res­i­dent killer whales. As stud­ies have shown, ves­sel speed is a pri­ma­ry dri­ver of sound, and we are proud that our boats already main­tain a slow zone around the whales and mod­el this behav­ior for oth­ers in the area.

The asso­ci­a­tion feels strong­ly that Rec­om­men­da­tion 28 restrict­ing view­ing on the South­ern Res­i­dents was not prop­er­ly vet­ted and the imple­men­ta­tion will lead to unin­tend­ed con­se­quences. PWWA is work­ing in part­ner­ship with the sci­en­tif­ic com­mu­ni­ty to devel­op a sci­ence-based ves­sel man­age­ment plan to mit­i­gate risk of harm to the South­ern Residents.

The whale watch­ing com­mu­ni­ty will con­tin­ue work­ing with the Task Force and the larg­er com­mu­ni­ty to serve as sen­tinels on the water along­side Washington’s Depart­ment of Fish & Wildlife in rule­mak­ing, boater edu­ca­tion and mod­el­ing of prop­er ves­sel oper­a­tions around whales. We will also con­tin­ue to be at the fore­front of South­ern Res­i­dent killer whale data col­lec­tion and research along­side our region’s sci­en­tists and partners.

Whale watch­ing con­tin­ues in the Sal­ish Sea and our guests have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to view oth­er whale and marine species that are thriv­ing in our waters, the same ecosys­tem and sound­scape as the South­ern Res­i­dents. 2018 was a record year for sight­ings of Bigg’s killer whales and more than 400 pho­to-iden­ti­fied indi­vid­ual Hump­backs were spot­ted in the Sal­ish Sea. Addi­tion­al­ly, large num­bers of Minke Whales, Grey whales and even Har­bour Por­pois­es are also being viewed.

PWWA is com­mit­ted to edu­cat­ing the hun­dreds of thou­sands of guests that board whale watch­ing tours in the waters of the Sal­ish Sea every year on the impor­tance of whale health and con­ser­va­tion. We are also com­mit­ted to work­ing in part­ner­ship with the research com­mu­ni­ty to imple­ment sci­ence-based solu­tions to facil­i­tate and mod­el respon­si­ble wildlife view­ing to keep the health of the whales as our top priority.

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Categories: Animals, Letters, Opinion, Wildlife

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