J50 on Aug. 18, 2018. (Photo by Katy Foster/NOAA Fisheries, under permit 18786)

J50 on Aug. 18, 2018. (Photo by Katy Foster/NOAA Fisheries, under permit 18786)

Gov. Inslee says orcas are a priority

The Southern resident orcas are among Gov. Jay Inslee’s top priorities in 2019.

Inslee delivered his State of the State address on Jan. 15 in Olympia, during which, he championed for further conservation efforts to save the resident Orcas.

“We must make unprecedented investments to save our orcas. The demise of any species is a warning in our natural systems,” Inslee said. “We have to restore the balance of our ecosystem to sustain orcas, salmon and the quality of life for all Washingtonians. For as the orca go, so go we.”

He referenced Tahlequah, or J35, a mother orca who mourned her deceased calf by carrying it on her head for 17 days in summer 2018.

“We saw a mother’s grief. We felt it. Our hearts broke as we shared in her loss,” Inslee said. “This cannot be their fate.”

Inslee signed Executive Order 18-02 on March 14, 2018, which designated state agencies to take immediate action to benefit Southern resident killer whales and established the task force to suggest long-term actions for orca recovery and sustainability. The group is comprised of scientists, politicians from various levels of governance, members of the private sector and nonprofits as well as state agencies and area tribes.

“We’ve received thousands of calls from people around the world pleading for us to do more. Our orca task force … has spent hundreds of hours researching the science behind survival,” Inslee said. “The actions we have to take, such as increasing salmon stocks, fixing culverts and decreasing vessel traffic risks, are hard but necessary. We have just one last chance to save these orcas. In this perilous moment, we must answer back with action.”

To read the rest of Inslee’s address, visit http://ow.ly/tT3x30nllGE.