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Recommendation: 35

Status: Pending

Conduct research, science, and monitoring to inform decision making, adaptive management, and implementation of actions to recover Southern Residents.


Action 1

Request that National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Northwest Fisheries Science Center model the task force’s first 36 recommendations related to the three major threats: prey, vessel disturbance, and contaminants to determine the degree of benefit to Southern Resident orcas that the recommended actions may produce under a reasonable range of future growth and development scenarios.

Action 2

Request that the zooplankton monitoring team work with the Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program and the Washington Department of Ecology to look at impacts associated with nutrient pollution.

Action 3

Request that the Regional Response Team and the Northwest Area Committee assess the connections to and impacts of oil spills on plankton.

Action 4

It will be important to use an adaptive management approach to track effectiveness of implemented recommendations, look for unintended consequences, monitor ongoing ecosystem change, and adjust future investments based on the findings.

Recent Progress

  • In 2021, the Puget Sound Partnership adopted a target recovery goal to increase the Southern Resident killer whale population from 74 individuals in 2021 to 86 individuals by 2030 and to 110 individuals by 2050. The Partnership has an extensive recovery system and can provide support to science, monitoring, and adaptive management. The Partnership is updating its Action Agenda for 2022-2026, which includes vital signs, strategies, and progress measures, and integrates task force recommendations. The Southern Resident orcas are a vital sign indicative of Puget Sound Health.
  • The Partnership produces the State of the Sound every other year. This report is intended to help partners and decision makers better understand the recovery effort, ecosystem health, progress toward recovery goals, and the roles partners play in achieving Puget Sound recovery. The report addresses many areas of recovery important to the task force recommendations.
  • The Puget Sound Partnership’s new data portal, Puget Sound Info, provides information about the status of Puget Sound recovery, including data about Southern Residents and Chinook salmon.
  • The Governor’s Salmon Recovery Office produces the State of Salmon in Watersheds report every 2 years that provides an assessment of salmon, an important food for Southern Residents.
  • In 2019, the Puget Sound Partnership received $1 million in ongoing funding for the Monitoring to Accelerate Recovery program and $2.2 million in ongoing funding for Puget Sound scientific research.

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