Recovery Program Updates from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:
Prey: At the end of November, we let you know about a scientific panel report, The Effects of Salmon Fisheries on Southern Resident Killer Whales www.nwr.noaa.gov/Marine-Mammals/Whales-Dolphins-Porpoise/Killer-Whales/ESA-Status/KW-Chnk.cfm. We’re in the process of reviewing the information, conclusions, and recommendations in the report to inform our recovery program for Southern Resident killer whales.
Vessels and Sound: NOAA finalized vessel regulations to protect killer whales in 2011. We’re working to implement the regulations through outreach and enforcement activities, and will soon have additional data from 2012 to help us evaluate the effectiveness of the regulations. We did not include the proposed no-go zone as part of that regulation, but did commit to further consideration of the concept, including gathering additional information and conducting public outreach.
As an initial step, we’re reaching out to state, county and other government agencies to start a conversation about additional protections for the whales, next steps, and plans for stakeholder engagement. We appreciate the many public comments we’ve received on this issue, and will keep you informed about new opportunities to provide input.
Contaminants: Under the Endangered Species Act, we continue to review federal projects that may affect water quality and endangered species such as Southern Resident killer whales. We work with action agencies to reduce potential exposure of the whale's salmonid prey. As part of this ongoing coordination, we’re identifying research and monitoring needs to better inform our evaluation of contaminants and their impacts on the whales.
As always, we’d like to hear about your efforts to support and implement actions in the Recovery Plan. As you wrap up 2012, please consider sharing information about your projects this year through our online reporting form found our Recovery Plan Implementation web page at www.nwr.noaa.gov/Marine-Mammals/Whales-Dolphins-Porpoise/Killer-Whales/Recovery-Implement/index.cfm.
We appreciate the work of all our partners to protect and conserve killer whales and their habitats, and look forward to continued efforts in 2013. Thank you and happy New Year!