What's happening now?
Many of the recommendations developed by the Task Force are now in the hands of Washington state agencies.
Legislation passed in 2020 directed a study of adopting a "net ecological gain" policy statewide to improve the conservation and protection of salmon habitat. This study is expected in December 2020.
About the Task Force
In March 2018, Washington's Governor Inslee initiated a Task Force dedicated to recovery of the Southern Resident orcas. The Task Force, with three working groups focused on each of the three main threats to the Southern Residents (prey depletion, toxics, and vessel impacts), met over eighteen months in 2018 and 2019, and ended in November 2019. State agencies, Washington legislators, international representatives, and members of tribal, federal, and local governments, as well as private and non-profit sections, were included in the Task Force representatives.
The initial set of recommendations led to four key bills in the 2019 Washington Legislature, focused on salmon and forage fish habitat, vessel disturbance, oil spill prevention, and reducing contaminants. Governor Inslee also requested $1.1 billion in funds related to Southern Resident recovery from the legislature. All four bills passed the legislature, and significant funds were dedicated to orca, salmon, and habitat recovery.
The Task Force was an amazing step forward for Southern Resident orca recovery, and we must keep the momentum going to ensure the hard work does not stop here.