Heck Wants to Designate June “National Orca Protection Month”

Orca whales in Puget Sound
Photo courtesy of NOAA

Tuesday U.S. Representative Denny Heck (WA-10) announced the introduction of a resolution before the United States Congress declaring June 2017 “National Orca Protection Month,” to honor the iconic endangered whales. The designation is meant to spotlight the Southern Resident orca population found in the waters of the Pacific Northwest and draw attention to the extreme danger they are in.

“Orcas are an iconic part of life in the Pacific Northwest, and that way of life is being challenged on a daily basis as they search for salmon that no longer crowd our waters due to habitat loss and warming oceans,” Heck said.  “The Southern Resident orcas that call Puget Sound home have been listed as endangered since 2005, and after seven deaths last year, just 78 orcas remain. This resolution would affirm that saving orcas is a priority of the Congress and of the United States. I urge my colleagues in the House of Representatives to pass this resolution and recognize in order to save the orcas, we need to save the salmon, and to save the salmon, we must save Puget Sound.”

Puget Sound is home to 78 Southern Resident orcas, one of the most threatened marine mammal species in the world. June 2017 is also recognized by the states of Washington and Oregon, as well as by British Columbia, as Orca Awareness Month. Last year, Congressman Heck introduced a resolution to support the designation of June 2016 as National Orca Protection Month. Congressman Heck is co-founder of the Congressional Puget Sound Recovery Caucus, which seeks to bring greater federal support for Puget Sound clean-up efforts.

A draft of the resolution is attached and can be found on Rep. Heck’s website.