The new orca-vessel regulations in the U.S. and Canada are different from each other and for the endangered southern residents versus the thriving Bigg’s killer whales. Education and enforcement are more complex than ever.
Washington’s law requires vessels to stay 300 yards from southern residents. On the Canadian side of the Salish Sea, vessels must stay 400 meters (one-quarter of a mile) from all orcas. Whale-watch vessels can view Bigg’s at 200 yards, if they don’t promote watching southern residents. Canada is also instituting “sanctuaries” June-October.
Does the 400-meter law make Canada bolder than the U.S.? Canada is proceeding with the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, which would lead to a sevenfold increase in oil-tanker traffic and an increased risk of an oil spill.
Actions to help recover the southern residents are great, but I can see how politics as usual is driving the process. I see political power plays, not putting the science (and the whales) first.
Monika Wieland Shields, Friday Harbor