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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON "NO GO" ZONE ON WEST SIDE OF SAN JUAN ISLAND

posted by Mike on 05/25/2018

Voluntary “No-Go” Whale Protection Zone for Southern Resident Killer Whales
 
To Recreational and Commercial License Holders:
 
As you may have heard, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), working with NOAA Fisheries, recently proposed actions through the North of Falcon salmon season setting process to promote protection for Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKWs). The purpose of this email is to request that recreational and commercial boats—fishing or otherwise—comply with a voluntary “No-Go” Whale Protection Zone to reduce disturbance and noise related to boating activities in an area routinely used by SRKWs to forage and socialize.
 
The voluntary “No-Go” Whale Protection Zone is along the western side of San Juan Island in Marine Area 7 for all recreational boats and commercial fishing vessels (Figure 1); fishing and non-fishing. This voluntary zone spans from Mitchell Bay in the north to Cattle Point in the south and extends a quarter-mile from shore, and half-mile from shore around Lime Kiln Lighthouse. WDFW is asking all vessels to stay out of this key area to provide a foraging area that is quiet and free from disturbance.
 
We understand the importance of the fishing grounds in Marine Area 7 that overlap the “No-Go” Zone and WDFW worked hard through North of Falcon to provide increased recreational fishing opportunities Puget Sound-wide. However, we also recognized that fisheries in areas important to SRKWs (e.g., MA 7) needed to be reduced to decrease boat traffic and the voluntary “No-Go” Zone was critical to the review by NOAA Fisheries required to secure the Endangered Species Act permit for all salmon-related fishing opportunities throughout the greater Puget Sound region. The only exception to this request is for the limited Fraser commercial sockeye fishery, which overlaps with a portion of the voluntary “No-Go” Zone and is expected to open only 6-8 days in late-July through early-September of this year.
 
Finally, as you may be aware, the Governor has established a SRKW Task Force to guide the implementation of a longer-term action plan for SRKW recovery.  Further guidance or regulations to protect Southern Residents in future years will utilize recommendations from this stakeholder-driven public process. More information about the SRKW Task Force is available here
 
WDFW has a team of staff working on SRKW issues, and we have listed their contact information below. Please feel free to contact team members with any questions you may have relative to SRKW activities.
Figure 1. An approximation of the Voluntary “No-Go” Whale Protection Zone from Mitchell Bay to Cattle Point.
 
WDFW Staff Contacts for SRKW-Related Activities:
 
SRKW Task Force
Penny Becker, SRKW Task Force Lead
(360) 902-2694 or Penny.Becker@dfw.wa.gov
 
Voluntary “No-Go” Whale Protection Zone
Michele Culver, Intergovernmental Policy Manager
 
2018 Puget Sound Salmon Fisheries
Kirt Hughes, WDFW Statewide Salmon and Steelhead Fishery Manager
(360) 902-2705 or Kirt.Hughes@dfw.wa.gov
 

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