New Regulations Information

In 2011, NOAA Fisheries Service adopted new regulations under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and Endangered Species Act to protect all killer whales in inland waters of Washington. Be Whale Wise and Follow the Law. It’s easy as 1, 2, 3…

  1. The ONE place not to be is in the path of whales. Don’t position your vessel in the path of oncoming whales within 400 yards of a whale.
  2. Stay at least TWO hundred yards away from any killer whale (200 yards = the distance of two football fields or about 200 meters).
  3. Remember these THREE ways to Be Whale Wise: follow the guidelines for viewing all wildlife, check for local protected areas and restrictions, and always be safe.

Follow the law, it's as easy as 1, 2, 3...

Download the Be Whale Wise Regulations Poster

Download the Be Whale Wise Regulations Brochure

Killer Whale
WHO do the new rules apply to?  All motorized and non-motorized vessels (including kayaks), with exceptions to maintain safe navigation and for certain types of vessels- government vessels in the course of official duties, ships in the shipping lanes, research vessels under permit, and vessels lawfully engaged in commercial or treaty Indian fishing that are actively setting, retrieving, or closely tending fishing gear.
WHAT do the new rules say?  Except for specific exemptions, it is unlawful for any person subject to the jurisdiction of the United State to:
I. Cause a vessel to approach, in any manner, within 200 yards (182.9 m) of any killer whale.

II. Position a vessel to be in the path of any killer whale at any point located within 400 yards ( 365.8 m) of the whale.

WHEN do the new rules go into effect?  May 16, 2011

WHERE do the new rules apply?  In inland waters of Washington State- east of the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca and south of the U.S./Canada international boundary.

WHY did NOAA adopt new regulations?  Southern Resident killer whales were listed as endangered in 2005.  Vessel impacts were identified as one of the threats.  These new regulations implement an action in the recovery plan and are designed to protect all killer whales by reducing impacts from vessels.  Additional background information on the rationale and analyses to support the regulations is available at