< Back to Recommendations

Recommendation: 26

Status: Complete

Revise Revised Code of Washington 77.15.740 to increase the buffer to 400 yards behind the orcas.


Action 1

Coordinate with state, federal, and Canadian authorities to align and adopt guidelines that limit how close and how quickly vessels may approach Southern Resident orcas. Consistent messaging will increase compliance and reduce stressing orcas.

Recent Progress

  • In 2023, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 5371, which requires all vessels to keep a distance of 1,000 yards from Southern Residents starting January 2025.
  • The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife submitted its first Southern Resident Killer Whale Vessel Adaptive Management 2022 Legislative Report. This report must be submitted every two years and analyzes how effective the state’s commercial whale watching rules, license fee structure, and approach distance rules are and makes recommendations for changes, if necessary.
  • In 2019, the Legislature approved Senate Bill 5577 to prohibit vessels from getting within 400 yards from behind and 300 yards from the sides of Southern Resident orcas.

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