One House bill sets aside $1.5 million to produce 10 million more hatchery chinook salmon, a roughly 20 percent boost over current production, so orcas will have more to eat.
“Using smart hatchery production we can still support rebuilding wild fish runs and have hatchery production,” said Rep. Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen, prime sponsor of House Bill 2417, which unanimously cleared a policy committee and awaits action in a fiscal committee.
State Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, has proposed a package of bills aimed at protecting orcas and the waters they swim in. Senate Bill 6268 would essentially double to 100 the number of days state wildlife officers are on the water to keep boats a safe distance from orcas. This bill would also convene a meeting between experts in British Columbia and Washington to discuss strategies to help the orcas.
Gov. Jay Inslee’s proposed supplemental budget devotes $3 million to helping the whales by increasing enforcement of boat regulations, increasing production of chinook salmon at hatcheries and improving habitat. Inslee is also expected to create a killer whale task force.
In Canada, recent years have seen DFO reduce the funding and stop the permitting of attempts by volunteers to enhance chinook production in the southern Vancouver Island area, presumably in support of a wild fish policy. Yet, somehow, Washington state legislators feel they can have both wild fish and enhanced chinook production.