Tag Archives: policy

Killer whale regulation enforcement panel

Alan Wolf, NOAA; Larry Palke, Fisheries and Oceans, Canada; Stefan Beckman, Fisheries and Oceans, Canada; Russ Mullins, WDFW

There is not currently any permitting process, but one is under consideration in Canada…

Russ: on our 30+ patrols per summer, most infractions are by private recreational boaters. In 2008, there were two commercial infractions and ~50 warnings. We’ll be emphasizing education of recreational vessels in 2009 and taking more aggressive approach over next couple years.  In WA, there is a whale watching leaflet and info in boater ed documents (i.e. Marine Area 7 sport fishing regulations) now, plus some questions on the exam relate to orca watching.

Larry: In Canada in 2008, only one crab boat was cited; we warned ~50 recreational boaters and emphasized is on education.  This summer we’ll be focusing more on recreational vessels.  We attend boat shows and hand out be whale wise guidelines.  As of Sept 15, 2009, there will be a new requirement for boaters to have a card that documents some boater education.

Alan:5 undercover agents were sent out in 2008 on commercial vessels; no complaints arose (except regarding recreational boaters)

Stefan: Relationship is good between enforcement and operators; violations of regulations are declining.


  • Canada, Federal penalty is $100k (repeat offenses get up to $500k and 2yrs in jail); looking at “careless operation of a vessel” angle in 2009
  • NOAA, Civil (max $25k and criminal statues (max $100k, seizure of vessel))


  • location is important
  • description of operator/vessel
  • photo and video documentation

U.S.+Canada recovery process, U.S. whale watching industry

10:00 Lynne Barre, NWFSC

  • Critical habitat can be modified.  A future step is designating habitat outside of the inland waters of WA.
  • Recovery plan implementation was started in 2003, well before the endangered listing in 2005.
  • Proposed regulations are under review… no date given for when rule-making will occur.
  • Consultations regarding potential impacts result in letters of concurrence or biological opinions; records are kept in public on their website…
  • Prevention of oil spills is a high priority (WDFW is adding the Oct 2007 workshop‘s hazing plan as appendix to the Northwest response plan)

10:30 Paul Cottrell, DFO (taking over for Marilyn Joyce as of last October, was originally a marine mammal biologist)

  • Canadian recovery strategy encompasses both northern and southern residents; transients (300-400 in population, rising with growing pinniped population) are listed as threatened and a recovery strategy is forthcoming; offshores are currently listed as species of concern, but are under review for upgrading to threatened.
  • Southern residents were originally listed under COSEWIC (coh-see-wick); Recovery strategy was published on the SARA Registry in March , 2008
  • Considering general regulations in addition to 100m approach limits; SARA has specific prohibitions
  • Marine Mammal Response Network (headed by Lisa Stavings) is doing a series of workshops and has monitoring handouts for volunteers
  • There is a potential mechanism for licensing (schedule 6), however it is not an option in the regulations that are being amended.  If industry continues to grow, a licensing schedule could be implemented through a public review process.

Suzanne Russell, NMFS/NWFSC, “People of the U.S. Whale Watching Industry”

  • Goal is to collect baseline data on the socio-cultural nature of the industry
  • Started with a voluntary survey in June-November, 2006 (112 returns, 64% response rate); supplemented with interviews and field observations
  • Analyzed overall, and broken down by sector (motorized vessel, kayak, land); further broken down by motorized vessel type (Tiers based on USCG regs — >65′ inspected, <65′ inspected multiple vessels, <65′ inspected single vessel, etc), as well as geographically (mainland vs island), and in some cases non/owner.
  • Results (details coming in a forthcoming report)
  1. Demographics: majority in industry are >45y and have some college education; biggest boats are all based on mainland; owners have typically been in industry the longest are predominanty in kayak, island groups, while land-based portion of industry is relatively new.
  2. Big boats operate out of mainland and operate more tours overall; more multiple daily trips are made out of Islands.
  3. Boats have become bigger and faster over the years; companies have expanded to other wildlife (beyond orcas).
  4. Effects on the local community: many responses emphasized educational effect (e.g. taking school groups out)

A map for including killer whales in NW fisheries managment

Just happened upon this nice synopsis of how WDFW views the various processes by which fishing harvests are governed in the Pacific Northwest. For me, this helps clarify which processes we killer whale advocates could influence to bolster the number of salmon and other fish that are available to feed the southern residents. As usual, the words “orca” or “whale” isn’t present in this document, though the may soon be included next to the reference to the ESA…
clipped from wdfw.wa.gov
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

How salmon fishing seasons are set
Harvest rules built on foundation of
scientific surveys, computer models, joint deliberations
Managing Washington’s fisheries – in particular salmon – is acknowledged as one of the most complex natural resource challenges in the country, due to the interplay of biological and geographical factors.
The annual process of setting scientifically sound fishing seasons begins each year with a pre-season forecast of the abundance of various individual fish stocks.
After the biological information and data gleaned from coded wire tags is agreed to by the co-managers, they are assembled into a computer model that offers a snapshot of an upcoming season’s fishery under various regulation options. The results from these computer simulations are then compared to conservation goals, obligations under U.S.- Canada treaties, allocations for tribes and protection requirements for some wild fish population under the Endangered Species Act.
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