Strongly urging for the immediate introduction of legislation aimed at regulating the level of underwater noise in areas designated as "critical habitat areas" for Orca whales.
This petition made change with 85 supporters!
The Honorable Pat Sullivan
House Majority Leader
339A Legislative Building
PO Box 40600
Olympia, WA 98504-0600
Dear Representative Sullivan,
We are profoundly concerned with the plight of the Orca whale. Washington State risks losing one of its most iconic animals. Subsequent to the listing of the Southern Resident Killer Whales as an endangered species in 2005, Washington State enacted regulations to help the Orcas, most notably, the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 77.15.740, introduced in 2008, placed legal restrictions on the activities of vessels near the whales. While we applaud the introduction of the distance limitations and their subsequent expansion in 2012, as pursuant to federal regulations, we believe that underwater noise levels are still not being properly addressed by the current regulations. The distance ordinance does not fully address the unsafe underwater noise level coming from vessels beyond the 200 yard distance limit. Since Orcas swim underwater, it makes it difficult for vehicles to adequately judge their distance to the whales and to adequately comply by cutting off their transmission once the whales are within the 200 yard limit. This is especially challenging if the vessel is traveling at a high speed.
Based on The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife assessment that exposure to vehicle noise is one of the leading health threats to the Orcas, we propose that (RCW) 77.15.740 be revised to place limits on the level of underwater noise. Scientific research has determined the levels of noise that pose a threat to the Orcas. For example, the research article in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, authored by Szymanski, M.D., Bain, D.E., Kiehl, K., Pennington, S., Wong, S., and Henry, K.R. (1999), titled "Killer whale (Orcinus orca) hearing: Auditory brainstem response and behavioral audiograms”, has identified that commencing at the underwater sound level of 20 kHz, the Orcas' ability to forage begins to deteriorate.
As the majority leader of Washington State, you know the power that a well thought-out and executed regulation can have towards building a better future. Please help our resident Orca population by introducing a legislation aimed at placing limits on underwater noise in areas designated as "critical habitat areas" for Orca whales as codified under the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 50 § 226.206 (http://goo.gl/PVxNm8). You can also visit SaveTheOrcas.info for more information.
The biggest share of all underwater noise within the “critical habitat areas” derives from vessel engine and propulsion noise. We recommend placing underwater monitoring devices, positioned throughout the “critical habitat areas”, designed to alert maritime authorities. We also recommend that vessel operators complete an Orca conservation educational course prior to the issuance of a vessel passage permits through the “critical habitat areas”. By introducing noise level regulations to the current distance regulations, the Orcas fair a better chance to survive and thrive.
The goal of this petition letter is to bring to light a serious situation and to offer a sensible solution containing measurable criteria to successful introduce legislation aimed at rescuing our beloved Southern Resident Killer Whale population.
Thank you, Representative Sullivan, for your time and consideration.
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