Regulations on Vessel Effects
We listed the Southern Resident killer whales as endangered under the Endangered Species (ESA) on Nov. 18, 2005. We identified vessel effects, including physical interference and sound, as a potential contributing factor in the population’s decline. Before the ESA listing, we had designated Southern Residents as a depleted stock under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA).
Both the MMPA and the ESA prohibit take, including harassment, of killer whales, but these statutes do not prohibit specified acts. The recovery plan for Southern Resident killer whales includes as a management action the evaluation of current vessel guidelines and the need for regulations and/or protected areas.
In 2007, we requested input on potential regulations to protect killer whales from the effects of various vessel activities. We released proposed vessels regulations in July 2009, held public meetings, and took comments on them until January 2010.
March 28, 2013: Killer whale protection workshop
May 16, 2011: Vessel regulations to protect killer whales became effective
Apr. 8, 2011: We announced final regulations to protect killer whales in Washington State from the effects of various vessel activities.
- Apr. 14, 2011; News release on killer whale vessel regulations 69kb
- Apr. 14, 2011; Federal Register notice on final killer whale vessel regulations 270kb
- References cited in killer whale vessels regulations FRN 79kb
- Questions & Answers on killer whale vessel regulations 56kb
- Environmental assessment (EA) on killer whale vessel regulations 7.6MB
- Regulatory impact review on killer whale vessel regulations 1.2MB
- July 29, 2009; Federal Register notice on proposed killer whale vessel regulations 271kb
- Draft regulatory impact review on proposed killer whale vessel regulations 1.1MB
Feb. 16, 2010: Public comments on proposed killer whale vessel regulations