Governor’s Southern Resident Orca Task Force Puts out Final Recommendations

There will be more to say about this, but for now, I would agree with Director Sahandy’s statement. There is a lot of work to be done, and now there are a series of tasks that can be funded, implemented, monitored and tuned. Follow the links below for more on them. And to all of you who cared enough to contribute time and comments, here’s from the Introduction of the report.

…Finally, we wish to express our heartfelt appreciation for the many members of the public who care so deeply about the Southern Residents and who fervently asked that we get this right and commit to the actions necessary to protect the orcas. We received over 18,000 written public comments and were personally moved by the presence and words of the hundreds of individuals who attended and spoke at our meetings. Their passion and concern inspired all of us to redouble our efforts to find consensus on actions that can truly make a difference for our Southern Resident orcas.

Statement from the Puget Sound Partnership’s Director Sheida Sahandy on the final recommendations of the Governor’s Southern Resident Orca Task Force

November 16, 2018

The release today of the final report by the Governor’s Southern Resident Orca Task Force marks a significant achievement for our beloved Southern Resident orcas, the official marine mammal of the State of Washington. The report showcases 36 recommendations that, if enacted, will significantly enhance the orcas’ ability to fight extinction.

Listed as endangered since 2005, the Southern Residents swim at the top of the life web in Puget Sound, and their well-being depends on everything else in the ecosystem functioning in a healthy and sustainable way. Nothing has demonstrated these connections more poignantly, or galvanized us to action more effectively, than the tragic death this past summer of the newborn calf of Tahlequah (J35) and her subsequent 17-day journey of mourning with her baby.

The Puget Sound ecosystem is huge and complex, with an interplay of ecological, cultural, social, and economic factors that affect the ability of communities to be thriving and resilient over the long term. It took more than 100 years of pollution and damage to get Puget Sound to its current troubled state, and it will take time and tenacity to return it to health and resiliency. The Partnership focuses on driving the smartest investments to make that happen, on getting the hundreds of organizations involved in recovery talking to each other, and working with funders to decide where and how to invest in Puget Sound recovery. Most of the task force recommendations are based in and supported by the foundational, ongoing work of the Partnership and our many partners. Together, we’ve made progress toward some recovery goals, but these efforts have not been able to keep pace with the Sound’s rate of decline, nor to sustain the Southern Residents.

We have hope that the 36 recommendations before the Governor convey the importance of recovering and sustaining the Puget Sound ecosystem and with it the people, orcas, salmon, and other creatures that live here. These recommendations were derived by the Task Force with a focus on immediate actions that will make a real difference. It is critical to keep in mind that work to address long-term systemic threats, such as climate change, ocean acidification, and unmanaged growth, are key to long-term success.

Congratulations to the Task Force on a job well done. Now we urge the public and the legislature to support the Governor in turning recommendations into action.

About the Governor’s Southern Resident Orca Task Force

In March 2018 Governor Jay Inslee signed Executive Order 18-02 designating state agencies to take several immediate actions to benefit southern residents, and establishing a Task Force to develop a longer-term action recommendations for orca recovery and future sustainability. To learn about the Task Force and its work, visit the Governor’s website

About the Puget Sound Partnership

The Puget Sound Partnership is the state agency formed to lead the region’s collective effort to restore and protect Puget Sound. Working with hundreds of government agencies, tribes, scientists, businesses, and nonprofits, the Partnership mobilizes partner action around a common agenda, advances Sound investments, and tracks progress to optimize recovery.

For more information, go to



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