Washington Senate Passes Boater Speed Limit Around Endangered Orcas

12 hours ago

The Washington Senate has voted to tighten rules for recreational boaters in hopes of creating a little more peace for endangered orcas in state waters. Senators voted in favor of a speed limit of seven knots for vessels traveling within 400 yards of an endangered killer whale.

Republican Sen. John Braun succeeded in getting some wiggle room for captains who make innocent mistakes in heavy seas. 

"I don't think it's reasonable to expect folks to know when they are within this distance from an orca if they are submerged, or if there is limited visibility or high wave heights,” he said.

The Senate vote was 27 to 21. The measure now goes to the state House for further consideration. 

Other policies to protect the dwindling number of orcas are being debated separately. Those include increasing hatchery production of Chinook salmon, a favorite orca food.

Senators stripped out a restriction on flying hobby drones too close to the killer whales before the final vote.