NMFS (National Marine Fisheries Service) claims their new orca whale watching regulations for kayakers and kayak tours in the San Juan Islands are based on science, but the overwhelming majority of field scientists who work with wild orca whales disagree. As do those who know orca whales intimately, such as our kayak tour guides who have been working in close proximity to killer whales for decades and understand their behavior far better than government bureaucrats who seldom leave their desk cubicles.
We agree with NMFS that sound pollution is a threat to orcas – see this previous blog article on this topic. But silent kayaks obviously do not pose this threat. And if NMFS says they are concerned about lethal sound levels, why did they give the US Navy carte blanche to use bombs and sonar in our marine sanctuaries and critical killer whale habitat!
We also agree with NMFS that endangered salmon stocks are critical to orca whales in the San Juan Islands – see our published articles on this, too. But we have yet to see NMFS make any headway in increasing the critically depressed salmon population. Salmon still remain reduced to 10% of their original population as are the herring that salmon and the rest of the marine ecosystem depends on in the San Juan Islands of Washington.
Under the auspices and mis-management of NMFS, both salmon and orca whales have suffered grievous losses. Thanks to lawsuits of concerned citizens, our federal courts forced NMFS to list salmon and killer whales as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Instead of doing their legally-mandated job, NMFS fought hard against the federal judges and wasted millions of tax payer dollars in legal fees. Worst of all, NMFS wasted a decade in legal wrangling instead of using that crucial time to help salmon and orcas.
NMFS gets failing grades across the board and should be fired from managing endangered marine species. How did a branch of the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (part of the Department of Commerce) get this job in the first place? It should be handed over to the US Fish & Wildlife Service, the agency in charge of handling all other endangered species - an agency with a track record of willing involvement and success. Save the whales and salmon by firing NMFS!