01/04/2018: "Orca & Salish Sea A Priority In 2018 Legislature Session"
Sen. Kevin Ranker announced orca whales and the Salish Sea will be a priority in the 2018 Legislative Session with new legislation to protect Washington state's Orca Whales and marine waters under a Salish Sea Protection package.
The 2018 Salish Sea Protection package of new legislation, will commit the state to dramatically improving oil spill response, strengthening protections of orca whales, banning net pen aquaculture of invasive species, and prioritizing toxic cleanups in the nearshore and marine environment.
Ranker outlined the proposed actions the legislature will work on to protect the waters of Puget Sound:
Salish Sea Protection Act
This legislation will fully fund Washington State oil spill prevention and response activities, update our critical, geographical response plans, research tug escorts and rescue tugs for all vessels carrying millions of gallons of oil and significantly increase coordination our with our Canadian neighbors. A second bill will move to establish a new, permanent Emergency Response Tug, as well as requirements for tug escorts for oil tankers, oil barges, and ATBs operating in Puget Sound.
Orca Whale Protection Act
With the Puget Sound resident orca population dropping to its lowest level since 1984, including the deaths of several juvenile whales, immediate action is needed before these whales enter a "death spiral" in which extinction is inevitable. This legislation dramatically increases enforcement of orca whale protection laws �" providing for permanent dedicated enforcement vessel, while increasing support for salmon production and restoration and calls for a trans-boundary discussion of orca whale protection and preservation.
Atlantic salmon net pens
The crisis we face due to the escape of hundreds of thousands of invasive Atlantic salmon from the Cooke Aquaculture net pen failure last year is alarming. Subsidizing an industry that is using our public marine waters for profit while eroding our environment and local economies is no longer acceptable. This legislation eliminates all new leases and permits for invasive Atlantic salmon net pens as well as net pens for other nonnative finfish. It also requires strengthening oversight guidelines for existing net pen operations based upon updated scientific information, as the current regulations are more than 25 years old.
MTCA accounts and cleanup program
This legislation increases focus of toxic cleanups of nearshore environments and marine waters. This legislation includes provisions to speed up cleanups of contaminated properties.
otection and preservation.