Take Action For the Southern Resident Killer Whales
In spring 2019, the Washington Legislature passed Senate Bill 5577: a bill concerning the protection of Southern Resident Orca Whales from vessels , which developed a license for commercial whale watching and directed the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to administer the licensing program and develop rules for commercial viewing of Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW).
The purpose of creating rules for commercial whale watching of SRKW is to enable sustainable whale watching while reducing the impacts of vessel noise and disturbance on the whales’ ability to forage, rest, and socialize.
“We’re using the best available science to support the conservation of these iconic animals,” said Julie Watson, WDFW killer whale policy lead. “The environmental impact analysis is a valuable tool in understanding the tradeoffs among various options we have been exploring in the agency and with our advisory committee. As we move forward in this process, it’s important to us that we hear from the broad spectrum of people who are invested in Southern Resident killer whale recovery.”
Draft rule language will be developed over the summer of 2020 and shared in early fall for public comment and consideration by the Fish and Wildlife Commission. Per the mandate in the legislation, WDFW expects adoption of final rules by January 2021.
The public is invited to attend a virtual public meeting from 6 to 8 p.m., Monday, Oct. 19, to learn more about the environmental analysis and provide comments on the draft environmental review.
Comments as part of the SEPA process can be submitted through Friday, Oct. 23 online at
or by mail to:
Lisa Wood, SEPA/NEPA Coordinator, WDFW Habitat Program, Protection Division,
P.O. Box 43200, Olympia, WA 98504.
To view the draft environmental review, best available science report, economic analysis, and instructions for tuning in to the Oct. 19 virtual meeting and providing comments, please visit WDFW’s commercial whale-watching rulemaking webpage at wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/at-risk/species-recovery/orca/rule-making.
Read more about the importance of reducing vessel noise and disturbance, plus other key threats to SRKW including contaminants and insufficient prey, in the final report posted on the Governor’s Southern Resident Orca Task Force website: https://www.governor.wa.gov/issues/issues/energy-environment/southern-resident-orca-recovery/task-force