Task force releases recommendations for saving local orcas
Gov. Jay Inslee’s orca task force is seeking public comment on its latest recommendations on how we can revive the local orca population.
The state’s orca task force was officially formed in March 2018, and since then has convened five separate times to devise solutions to the growing threat to the southern resident orca population.
In those meetings, the task force has come up with a handful of proposals, ranging from increased investments in restoration of salmon habitats (the primary source of food for orcas), to breaching the Snake River dams.
Not a lot has actually been implemented, though, with the task force spending its months compiling recommendations and reports for public comment. The first draft of documents was made public on Sept. 24, with the goal of sketching out the over-arching problems to solve, eventually landing on: A lack of prey, toxic contaminants, and noise pollution.
The next draft, published Oct. 24, included more in the way of actual recommendations, including (but not limited to):
- A “significant increase” in investments for restoration of Chinook salmon habitats
- Enforcing existing laws that “protect habitats”
- Strengthening protections for Chinook habitats
- Developing incentives to “encourage voluntary actions” to protect habitats
- Determining whether removal of the Snake River dams would be beneficial to Southern Resident orcas
Most notably, some experts have claimed that breaching the Snake River dams could replenish the salmon food supply for orcas, while others warn that it would be both costly and ineffectual. Suffice it to say, it’s been the most divisive and controversial solution proposed yet. It will be up for “further discussion” when the task force meets next on Nov. 6.
The Oct. 24 draft was compiled based on discussions among the task force on Oct. 17 and 18. Public comments on the updated draft recommendations can be submitted until midnight, on Monday, Oct. 29, through the task force’s comment portal.