Bills Intend to Help Orcas

Washington state’s official marine mammal, the orca whale, got some much-needed help from a package of bills in the Legislature this week.  Dan Frizzell from the Washington State House Democratic Caucus has more.

Washington’s iconic killer whales are dying off, and lawmakers in Olympia are scrambling to find ways to stave off what they call the unthinkable:  a future Evergreen State without the black and white orcas that once thrived in Puget Sound and coastal waters. Representative Joe Fitzgibbon is a Burien Democrat who heads the House Environment and Energy Committee. He helped steer a package of bipartisan bills through the House this session, and three scored big victories Thursday.

FITZGIBBON: “Orcas are a really iconic species, one of the reasons that people come to visit Washington, one of the reasons people love living in Washington. The orca population is in a steep decline, and we need to turn this population decline around before it’s too late.  By taking these measures we can be sure that future generations get to enjoy these majestic creatures and their presence in the same way that we do today.”

The Fitzgibbon bill, along with others written by Representatives Debra Lekanoff and Brian Blake, take on the orca decline by mitigating threats posed by oil tankers and barges, boosting numbers of the Chinook salmon that is the orca’s food of choice, and requiring whale-watchers and other boaters to move slower and stay farther away from the endangered whales. The bills now head for the Senate.  In Olympia, I’m Dan Frizzell.