(November 2022 photo via Twitter, by @i8ipod)
Two bills to keep boats further away from endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales are making their way through the State Legislature, with West Seattle legislators among the co-sponsors. The bills both seek to keep boats further away from the endangered orcas, as recommended by a state report noted here last month. The State Senate version, SB 5371 – with co-sponsors including 34th District Sen. Joe Nguyen of West Seattle – got a hearing today in Olympia, before the Senate Water, Natural Resources, and Parks Committee. Here’s video via TVW (when you click “play” it’ll start with the orca bill, an hour in):
Among those testifying was West Seattleite Donna Sandstrom, executive director of The Whale Trail and member of Governor Inslee’s task force on orcas. Here’s part of what she told the senators:
We fully support this bill, which builds on the progress the State has made, and extends it based on the science we now know. A 1,000 yard setback will make it easier for orcas, especially females, to find and catch their prey. This matters not just for individual health, but because when orcas catch a salmon they share it. Mothers share food with their offspring. Older males share food with their mothers. Vessel noise and disturbance makes all of that harder.
There are seven calves under five years old in the population, and five of those are female, including Tahlequah’s newest calf. The future of the population is already here. Their ability to survive and thrive into adulthood depends on the actions that we take today. One perimeter for all boaters will be easier to communicate, comply with and enforce. Apps like Whale Alert can help boaters know when southern residents are near, and how far away is 1,000 yards.
Please advance this bill and give J, K and L pods the space they need to eat, so they have a chance to go on. It’s as simple, and as necessary, as that. Future generations may not know our names, but if we get this right there there will still be southern residents to watch, and be awed by. On the long road to recover the whales, this is the next step, and Washington State is leading the way.
The House version of the bill, HB 1145 – with co-sponsors including 34th District State Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon of West Seattle – is in the House Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources, and Parks Committee, with no hearing scheduled yet. “This is the first step on the journey from bill to law,” Sandstrom tells WSB. “We will need everyone’s help to ensure it passes this session. Here’s how people can support: Contact your legislators and let them know you support these bills. Contact by phone, email, or comment directly on the bill.” West Seattle legislators are Sen. Nguyen, Rep. Fitzgibbon, and newly elected Rep. Emily Alvarado.
| 4 COMMENTS