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NW Fishletter #380, April 2, 2018
 Gov. Inslee Orders New Protections For Orca, Chinook Salmon
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed an executive order March 14 that attempts to protect killer whales off the coast of Washington and their main source of food--Chinook salmon.
A news release from Inslee's office says Washington has two iconic animals, "orcas and salmon, whose destinies are both intertwined and in peril." The Puget Sound population of orcas has dropped to 76 animals, and their main diet--Chinook salmon--is listed on federal and state endangered species lists.
The executive order notes that the health of orcas and Chinook salmon are tightly linked, and that both orcas and Chinook are hurt by warming oceans and ocean acidification. Inslee's action sets up a task force to propose funding and legislation to help the orcas, and is expected to address three primary threats: lack of prey, toxic contaminants, and vessel traffic and noise.
It also seeks immediate help from state agencies, "within existing resources." Regarding requested actions that would help salmon, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is asked to identify, by July 31, the highest priority areas and watersheds for orca prey "in order to focus or adjust, as needed, restoration, protection, incentives, hatcheries, harvest levels, and passage policies and programs."
The agency is also asked to review and amend 2018 recreational and commercial fishing regulations, "prioritizing protection of key areas and fish runs" that could aid in orca recovery.
The current threats to Chinook salmon, raised by the governor's news release, include habitat loss, toxic pollutants (particularly those in stormwater runoff), streams blocked by development, predators and newly arriving invasive fish. -K.C. M.
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