The 15-group coalition calls on stakeholders to set aside differences and unify behind critical support of bold, meaningful, and comprehensive actions to address key threats to survival of Southern Resident orcas: prey depletion, pollution, noise & disturbance, and oil spills
August 26, 2018
Dr. Deborah Giles, Orca Salmon Alliance, 916-531-1516
Katie Kirking, Orca Salmon Alliance, 509-999-8632
Colleen Weiler, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, 810-813-1643
Whitney Neugebauer, Whale Scout, 425-770-0787
Seattle, Washington -- The Orca Salmon Alliance (OSA) is continuing the Bold Action Now movement in advance of the upcoming meeting of the Southern Resident Killer Whale Task Force (Task Force). This movement is dedicated to coalescing stakeholders, advocates and all who love the Southern Residents around the simple unifying idea that we need to call on the Task Force to take bold action on behalf of the orcas, and on Governor Inslee and the state legislature to ensure quick implementation of the recommended actions. This will be one of the last meetings of the full Task Force prior to delivering its recommendations to Governor Inslee, only heightening the importance of uniting behind #BoldActionNow.
As a part of this movement, members of OSA will provide “Bold Action Now” ribbons immediately prior to and during the next Task Force meeting, held August 28th at the Swinomish Lodge and Casino in Anacortes. OSA will also be taking the campaign to social media, using the #BoldActionNow hashtag and making ribbons available to share electronically.
“If ever there were a time to unite behind multiple bold actions to save these orcas, this is it,” said Dr. Deborah Giles, killer whale researcher and science advisor for OSA. “This is a crisis situation. If we don’t take this opportunity for bold action across the board, we’re going to lose these whales. The Task Force is the best chance we have to save them and I hope all will join OSA in a unified call for Bold Action Now. First, we need the Task Force to make bold, meaningful and comprehensive recommendations and when they do, we need to support the Task Force by holding Governor Inslee, the Washington State bureaucracy, and the State Legislature accountable for enacting those recommendations with the urgency for which the situation calls. There’s not a silver bullet here. Everyone is going to have to give a little to save the Southern Residents.”
OSA also invites all attending the Task Force meeting to join them in a building a wreath made of plants native to the region during the lunch break to honor the loss of Tahlequah’s (J35) newborn daughter and her remarkable 18-day, 1,000-mile journey, and to signify unity behind actions that will benefit the orcas. We will remember her loss, and the loss of other Southern Resident orcas while seeking quiet reflection on the incredibly important task ahead. After the Task Force meeting concludes, members of OSA will lay the wreath in the water. All are welcome to join in.
“All of us gathered here today have two things in common: we love the Southern Residents and we are committed to preventing their extinction and fostering their recovery,” said Katie Kirking of the Orca Salmon Alliance. “The single best way for us to honor J35’s journey and to memorialize her daughter, along with all of the orcas we have lost recently, is to work together to support the Task Force in taking #BoldActionNow in their recommendations to Governor Inslee. There are many different ideas about the best way to recover these whales and a lot of passion around this issue, but in the end we all want the same thing: a healthy Southern Resident population. We’re calling on all stakeholders, advocacy groups and those who love these orcas to rise above those differences to encourage and support the Southern Resident Killer Whale Task Force to make bold recommendations for meaningful immediate, near, mid and long term actions. We hope anyone at the meeting who is willing to join us in this call will pick up one of the ribbons being distributed, wear it proudly, and join us in presenting a united front..”
Colleen Weiler of Whale and Dolphin Conservation said “OSA has recommended a comprehensive, inclusive suite of actions to address the key threats to the survival of the orcas: prey depletion, pollution, noise & disturbance, and oil spills. All of these issues need to be addressed in the Task Force’s recommendations to the Governor, which will be critically important not only for their recovery, but for their immediate survival.”
Policy recommendations from OSA, as well as suggested changes people can make in their daily lives to help the orcas, salmon, and their ecosystem can be found on the OSA webpage (orcasalmonalliance.org) and Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/orcasalmonalliance/).
Orca Salmon Alliance was founded in 2015 to prevent the extinction of the Southern Resident orcas by recovering the wild Chinook salmon populations upon which the whales depend for their survival. OSA members include Orca Network, Defenders of Wildlife, Save Our Wild Salmon, Washington Environmental Council, Oceana, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Earthjustice, Endangered Species Coalition, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, Puget Soundkeeper, Center for Biological Diversity, Seattle Aquarium, Whale Scout, and Toxic Free Future.
In March 2018, in response to a series of deaths in the critically endangered Southern Resident orca population, bringing them to their lowest population level in 30 years, Governor Jay Inslee created the Southern Resident Killer Whale Task Force. The Task Force is led by co-chairs Les Purce and Stephanie Solien, and includes more than 40 regional representatives of government agencies, stakeholders, scientists, Tribes, and non-governmental organizations.
Just 75 Southern Resident orcas remain today – the lowest number in 34 years. The population was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act in 2005; its population since then has further declined and there has not been a successful birth among the Southern Residents in nearly three years.
Task Force members are scheduled to deliver an initial list of recommended actions that the Governor and Legislature can take in order to stop and reverse the Southern Resident orcas’ decline toward extinction by November 1st of this year. Three working groups have been set up to advise the Task Force on the three primary causes of decline: lack of available prey, toxic contamination and vessel/boat noise/interference.