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Canadian, Washington officials discuss strategies to save orcas

(AP)

Different country — same effort. Canadian officials visited Washington state Monday to discuss how to save Puget Sound’s endangered orcas.

Officials gathered in Puyallap to meet with Washington’s Orca Recovery Task Force. Transport Canada’s Jeff Pelton says their country has some similar strategies to help killer whales rebound, including new rules for boats.

State lawmakers pass sweeping protections for Puget Sound killer whales

“We are asking that small boats would slow down to seven knots if they are within a 1,000 meters of killer whales,” Pelton said. “So this is similar to the go slow bubbled that is being applied in Washington state.”

Pelton says the goal is to reduce boat noise, one of the main threats to orcas. Other rules aim to increase Chinook salmon and limit pollution.

Task Force co-chair Stephanie Solien celebrated the birth of a new calf spotted last week in Canada.

“That makes two new Southern Resident orca calf in 2019, bringing the total population up to 76,” she said.

Killer whales seen feeding on gray whale south of Whidbey Island

Meanwhile, the Orca Recovery Task Force further discussed its mission to save the killer whales. It was the first time the task force met since Governor Inslee signed new laws, aimed at protecting the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales.

The task force issued 36 recommendations last year, many of which were turned into law this past session. The measures aim to lessen boat noise, increase chinook salmon, and limit pollution.

In addition to the recommendations, the task force also talked about the affects of climate change and rising populations on orca survival.

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