Commercial Whale Watching Licensing Program Advisory Committee

In spring 2019, the Washington Legislature (via RCW 77.65.620) directed the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to develop rules for a new commercial whale-watching licensing program enacted via Senate Bill 5577: a bill concerning the protection of Southern Resident Orca Whales from vessels

The purpose of creating and defining rules for a new licensing program is to enable sustainable whale watching while reducing the impacts of vessel noise and disturbance so whales can effectively forage, rest, and socialize.

In October 2019, WDFW solicited applicants for an ad-hoc advisory committee to help develop these rules and processes. The committee members were chosen in November of 2019, and the committee met from January through July 2020.

The committee ultimately generated two alternative sets of rules that represented their best attempts to find common ground that addressed the values and concerns of all committee members. The two advisory committee proposals (Proposal L and Proposal J) documented areas of compromise and areas of unresolved concerns. The proposals also included questions for the Washington State Academy of Sciences independent science panel, which provided a scientific review and analysis of the proposals in July 2020. 

The insight gained from the advisory committee deliberations and the individual advisory committee members continued to inform WDFW's SEPA and rulemaking processes through the summer and fall of 2020. For the latest information on the rulemaking for commercial viewing of Southern Resident Killer Whales, including WDFW's proposed draft rules, please visit the commercial whale watching rulemaking webpage.

Meeting calendar

Date Location Meeting materials
Jul 8, 2020, 2 - 4:30pm
Jun 24, 2020, 10am - 5pm
May 29, 2020, 10am - 12:30pm
May 28, 2020, 9:30am - 5pm

Zoom Webinar 

  • Advisory Committee meeting 9:30-2:30
  • SEPA EIS scoping public meeting 3:00-5:00
Apr 30, 2020, 9am - 3:30pm
Apr 16, 2020, 9am - 3:30pm
Apr 15, 2020, 9am - 3:30pm
Mar 12, 2020, 9am - 3pm

Phone meeting

Feb 27, 2020, 10am - 4pm

Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve

10441 Bayview Edison Rd, Mt Vernon, WA 98273

Jan 17, 2020, 10am - 4pm

WDFW La Conner office
111 Sherman St., La Conner, WA 98257