- Wildlife Research and Management
- Wildlife Research and Management -- Non-Game Management and Conservation
Published: November 2022
This legislative report fulfills Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (WDFW, or the Department) requirement to analyze the effectiveness of and any recommendations for changes to the state’s commercial whale watching rules, license fee structure, and approach distance rules (as outlined in RCW 77.65.620, subsection 5); it is prepared by WDFW for the Washington State Governor and Legislature.
The report is organized into three chapters:
- Introduction and Background
- Data Considered in the Department’s Adaptive Management Process
- Summary of Relevant Updates to Best Available Science
- Feedback on Statutory Restrictions for Vessels Operating Near SRKW
- Commercial Whale Watching Compliance, Reporting, and Enforcement Analysis
- Feedback on Commercial Whale Watching License Program
- Feedback on Commercial Whale Watching Rules
- WDFW Recommendations
Chapter 1 includes an overview of the Department’s 2022 adaptive management (AM) process and a brief background of the state’s current vessel approach distance statutory restrictions and commercial whale watching (CWW) license program and rules.
Chapter 2 provides more detail on the materials the Department considered during the 2022 AM process. It is divided into five sections: The Summary of Relevant Updates to Best Available Science section summarizes relevant updates to the best available science (BAS) based on studies and science reviewed by the Department; the Feedback on Statutory Restrictions for Vessels Operating Near SRKW, Feedback on Commercial Whale Watching License Program, and Feedback on Commercial Whale Watching Rules sections each include summaries of feedback the Department received via an online survey and a series of stakeholder focus groups. The Commercial Whale Watching Compliance, Reporting, and Enforcement Analysis presents highlights of an additional analysis the Department conducted.
Chapter 3 presents the Department’s recommendations and describes its suggested revisions to the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) and Washington’s Administrative Code (WAC), including next steps in 2023-24 for its AM process.
The report has seven appendices. Appendices A, B, and C include the Department’s suggested revisions to RCWs 77.15.740, 77.65.615, and 77.15.815, respectively. Appendices D, E, F and G provide additional detail on the content WDFW considered during its AM process (Chapter 2): Appendix D is the review of submitted science addressing the sentinel and magnet effect hypotheses; Appendix E is the complete Compliance Analysis; Appendix F is the complete Feedback Analysis; and Appendix G lists questions asked in the AM feedback survey.