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Recommendation: 19

Status: Inactive

Create an annual orca protection endorsement for all recreational boaters to ensure all boaters are educated on how to limit boating impacts to orcas.


Action 1

Create a $10, statewide, orca protection endorsement with an opt-out option for all registered recreational vessels and direct the money to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s enforcement division and the Department of Licensing to cover costs of administering the program and to partners doing outreach and education.

Action 2

Work with partners to provide education on Be Whale Wise guidelines whenever a commercial or recreational boater purchases an endorsement.

Action 3

Work with trade associations and ports and through existing government programs and channels to provide additional education to commercial and recreational boaters.

Implementation Details

  • Establish a $10 endorsement on boater registrations statewide to increase awareness and fund education and enforcement activities that promote compliance with best boating practices near orcas. Boaters will be able to opt out of this fee. The Washington State Department of Licensing also should note Southern Resident orca regulations and guidelines on its Web site.
  • The Governor should request the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, Northwest Marine Trade Association, and Recreational Boating Association of Washington work with the U.S. Coast Guard and National Association of State Boating Law Administrators to require the print and online curricula, testing, and outreach for the mandatory Washington State Boater Education Card do the following: (1) include Be Whale Wise guidelines, (2) include related updates to voluntary and regulatory measures by May 2019, and (3) include broader outreach to charter boat, boat rental companies, and exempted audiences from outside Washington State (particularly in Canada) and those whose lifetime certification was obtained before the updated standards.
  • Look at how to leverage the Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation Program’s (ECHO) new online mariners training. Tribal governments will make their own decisions.

Recent Progress

  • In 2019, the Legislature amended Revised Code of Washington 79A.60.630, which required boating safety and education programs to include whale-watching guidelines and regulations around Southern Residents.
  • A multi-agency campaign, called “Be Whale Wise,” was developed to educate boaters on the new regulations. The campaign was broadcast across multiple mediums including social media, Google ads, and regional public access television stations.

More details may be found in the progress reports in the resources library.