Orca-boat rules

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Revision as of 01:56, 25 August 2009 by Scott (Talk | contribs) (Washington State law)

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A place to centralize and archive rules regarding the interaction of boats and southern resident killer whales.

2009 proposed rule


Washington State law

PDF of law Signed by Governor on April 1, 2008. Effective June 11, 2008.

NEW SECTION.  Sec. 2.  A new section is added to chapter 77.15 RCW 
to read as follows: 
(1) Except as provided in subsection (2) of this section, it is 
16 unlawful to: 
17 (a) Approach, by any means, within three hundred feet of a southern 
18 resident orca whale (Orcinus orca); 
19 (b) Cause a vessel or other object to approach within three hundred 
20 feet of a southern resident orca whale; 
21 (c) Intercept a southern resident orca whale.  A person intercepts 
22 a southern resident orca whale when that person places a vessel or 
23 allows a vessel to remain in the path of a whale and the whale 
24 approaches within three hundred feet of that vessel; 
25 (d) Fail to disengage the transmission of a vessel that is within 
26 three hundred feet of a southern resident orca whale, for which the 
27 vessel operator is strictly liable; or 
28 (e) Feed a southern resident orca whale, for which any person 
29 feeding a southern resident orca whale is strictly liable. 
30 (2) A person is exempt from subsection (1) of this section where: 
31 (a) A reasonably prudent person in that person's position would 
32 determine that compliance with the requirements of subsection (1) of 
33 this section will threaten the safety of the vessel, the vessel's crew 
34 or passengers, or is not feasible due to vessel design limitations, or 
35 because the vessel is restricted in its ability to maneuver due to 
36 wind, current, tide, or weather; 
1 (b) That person is lawfully participating in a commercial fishery 
2 and is engaged in actively setting, retrieving, or closely tending 
3 commercial fishing gear; 
4 (c) That person is acting in the course of official duty for a 
5 state, federal, tribal, or local government agency; or 
6 (d) That person is acting pursuant to and consistent with 
7 authorization from a state or federal government agency. 
8 (3) Nothing in this section is intended to conflict with existing 
9 rules regarding safe operation of a vessel or vessel navigation rules. 
10 (4) For the purpose of this section, "vessel" includes aircraft, 
11 canoes, fishing vessels, kayaks, personal watercraft, rafts, 
12 recreational vessels, tour boats, whale watching boats, vessels engaged 
13 in whale watching activities, or other small craft including power 
14 boats and sail boats. 
15 (5) A violation of this section is a natural resource infraction 
16 punishable under chapter 7.84 RCW.

The summary of Washington House Bill 2514 passed during the 2007-2008 Legislature states “It is a natural resource infraction to approach or cause a vessel to approach within 300 feet of a southern Orca whale.”

Penalties: A violation is a natural resource infraction punishable under chapter 7.84 RCW

Case history:

County ordinance


Be Whalewise Guidelines

Penalties: Consultation with Soundwatch or Straitwatch; annual report card for commercial operators?

Endangered Species Act

Marine Mammal Protection Act