In early 2015 the National Marine Fisheries Service rightly concluded that, to keep Puget Sound's killer whales from forever disappearing, it was absolutely necessary to protect coastal areas off Washington, Oregon and Northern California under the Endangered Species Act.
But then, in an about-face, the agency postponed a final rule protecting this habitat until 2018 or beyond. The agency says it needs to gather more information, but scientists say there's plenty: Observations and satellite tracking show that the Southern Resident population of 81 orcas uses and needs these foraging grounds.
Meanwhile the threats continue all along the orcas' migration route, down to the San Francisco Bay and beyond: Fast-moving maritime traffic, coastal pollution, ocean noise, fishing gear entanglements and food supply depletion could all be minimized by new rules.
August 22, 2015 Action Alert ID# 263
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