Can Washington Make A Plan To Save The Orcas?
In late July, an orca calf died within half an hour of its birth. The mother carried the dead calf on her head for more than a week.
On Tuesday, the governor’s orca task force met in Wenatchee to come up with a long-term plan to help the recovery of the orca population that spends much of its time in or around the Puget Sound (known as the Southern Residents).
The mandate is to come up with recommendations by this fall that Gov. Jay Inslee can present to the legislature in 2019.
The task force is examining three main threats to the survival of southern resident orcas: vessel noise, pollution and the availability of chinook salmon, the only food these orcas eat.
Advocates for salmon and for orcas gathered outside the meeting to press for “bold actions,” including removing the four lower Snake River dams. The advocates delivered a petition calling for dam removal and other steps to the task force co-chairs.
But Kathy Pittis, with the Port of Anacortes, argued that the Snake River dams provide cheap, renewable electricity to nearly 2 million homes and that they do not block fish passage.
Dam removal isn’t the only controversial recommendation the task force has on the table.
It’s considering options that include further limiting the Chinook harvest in some places, reducing bycatch in other fisheries, and negotiating reductions in Alaskan and Canadian fisheries to allow more fish to reach Washington waters.
Both commercial and recreational fishers object to many of those recommendations.
The task force is also looking at establishing new speed limits, vessel-free zones and a permit system for whale-watching boats in order to cut in half the level of vessel noise that orcas are exposed to.
Other possible actions are more aspirational. Derek Day, with the state Department of Ecology, said one step that would help the orcas would be reforming the federal legislation regulating chemicals so that new chemicals would be tested before coming on the market and so that contaminants already in the environment would get cleaned up.
“That would be a moon shot,” Day acknowledged.
Copyright 2018 EarthFix
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation and Bonneville Power Administration laid out a range of six alternatives in a draft environmental impact statement. The most controversial measure would have been to remove or alter the four Lower Snake River dams. Continue Reading Draft Federal Plan Recommends Keeping Lower Snake River Dams In Place
More than 300 people showed up to hear speakers talk about why it’s important to either keep or alter the dams. The panel stems from a Washington state study that will guide the state’s position on dam removal. Continue Reading Dams Vs. Salmon: Workshops Aim To Get Past ‘My Study Can Beat Up Your Study’ On Snake River
Upcoming public workshops will examine a draft report that gauges how people in Washington want to deal with the fate of the dams. At the workshops, officials will present the report’s findings, followed by a panel discussion. People can submit written and online comments on the draft report through Jan. 24. Continue Reading Public Invited To Clarkston-Pasco-Vancouver Workshops On Question Of Snake River Dams