Proposed Abstract Title

Vessel trends and boater education in trans-boundary SRKW Critical Habitat

Type of Presentation

Snapshot

Session Title

Habitat

Location

2016SSEC

Description

In 2005, the Southern Resident killer whales were listed as a distinct population and as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. NOAA Fisheries' Recovery Plan identified disturbance and sound associated with vessels as a primary threat to the Southern Resident killer whales and called for an evaluation of current viewing guidelines and assessment of the need for regulations and/or protected areas. On April 8, 2011, NOAA Fisheries announced vessel regulations to protect Southern Resident killer whales from vessel disturbance. The laws came into effect on May 16th, 2011 and apply to all types of vessels, including motor boats, sail boats, kayaks and paddle boards, in Washington State's inland waters. Since 1998, The Whale Museum’s Soundwatch boater education program has collected data characterizing vessel activities near Southern Resident killer whales. Despite expanded outreach efforts through the trans-boundary Be Whale Wise partnership with Straitwatch and DFO, the implementation of Washington State's vessel laws for killer whales in 2012 and an increased presence of law enforcement on the water, data trends portray vessel operators routinely out of compliance with guidelines and laws and an increase in the number of people whale watching throughout the whales' summer range. The Soundwatch boater education program presentation will highlight these vessel activity trends, show high use zones in the trans-boundary region and the effort to increase boater awareness. Annual data trends are used by the whale watch associations, local, state and federal governments to improve and analyze the guidelines and laws for killer whales.

Comments

Be Whale Wise guidelines and Laws: www.bewhalewise.org

Washington State Fish and Wildlife, Washington State Killer Whale laws: http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/orca/

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Vessel trends and boater education in trans-boundary SRKW Critical Habitat

2016SSEC

In 2005, the Southern Resident killer whales were listed as a distinct population and as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. NOAA Fisheries' Recovery Plan identified disturbance and sound associated with vessels as a primary threat to the Southern Resident killer whales and called for an evaluation of current viewing guidelines and assessment of the need for regulations and/or protected areas. On April 8, 2011, NOAA Fisheries announced vessel regulations to protect Southern Resident killer whales from vessel disturbance. The laws came into effect on May 16th, 2011 and apply to all types of vessels, including motor boats, sail boats, kayaks and paddle boards, in Washington State's inland waters. Since 1998, The Whale Museum’s Soundwatch boater education program has collected data characterizing vessel activities near Southern Resident killer whales. Despite expanded outreach efforts through the trans-boundary Be Whale Wise partnership with Straitwatch and DFO, the implementation of Washington State's vessel laws for killer whales in 2012 and an increased presence of law enforcement on the water, data trends portray vessel operators routinely out of compliance with guidelines and laws and an increase in the number of people whale watching throughout the whales' summer range. The Soundwatch boater education program presentation will highlight these vessel activity trends, show high use zones in the trans-boundary region and the effort to increase boater awareness. Annual data trends are used by the whale watch associations, local, state and federal governments to improve and analyze the guidelines and laws for killer whales.