Canada and the United States are working on new rules that could nearly double the distance boats must stay away from resident orca whales in Puget Sound to protect them from underwater noise, reports Judith Lavoie of the Times Colonist. Boats must stay just over 100 yards from whales, according to current whale-watching guidelines in Canada and the U.S. The new proposal would increase that distance to 200 yards and set up a half-mile area where boats are not allowed along the west coast of San Juan Island from May through September. The whale-watching industry is stunned by the development.
“A lot of people are pretty shocked. It doubles the global standard for whale watching. It would be like doubling the speed limit on the freeway or cutting it in half,” says Shane Aggargaard, president of the Pacific Whale Watch Association.
– Emily Linroth