77.65.615  <<  77.65.620 >>   End of Chapter

Commercial whale watching licenseAdoption of rulesAnalysis and report to the governor and the legislatureDefinitions.

(1) The department must adopt rules for holders of a commercial whale watching license established in RCW 77.65.615 for the viewing of southern resident orca whales for the inland waters of Washington by January 1, 2021. The rules must be designed to reduce the daily and cumulative impacts on southern resident orca whales and consider the economic viability of license holders. The department shall at a minimum consider protections for southern resident orca whales by establishing limitations on:
(a) The number of commercial whale watching operators that may view southern resident orca whales at one time;
(b) The number of days and hours that commercial whale watching operators can operate;
(c) The duration spent in the vicinity of southern resident orca whales; and
(d) The areas in which commercial whale watching operators may operate.
(2) The department may phase in requirements, but must adopt rules to implement this section. The department may consider the use of an automatic identification system to enable effective monitoring and compliance.
(3) The department may phase in requirements, but must adopt rules pursuant to chapter 34.05 RCW to implement this section including public, industry, and interested party involvement.
(4) Before January 1, 2021, the department shall convene an independent panel of scientists to review the current body of best available science regarding impacts to southern resident orcas by small vessels and commercial whale watching due to disturbance and noise. The department must use the best available science in the establishment of the southern resident orca whale watching rules and continue to adaptively manage the program using the most current and best available science.
(5) The department shall complete an analysis and report to the governor and the legislature on the effectiveness of and any recommendations for changes to the whale watching rules, license fee structure, and approach distance rules by November 30, 2022, and every two years thereafter until 2026. This report must be in compliance with RCW 43.01.036.
(6) The definitions in this subsection apply throughout this section unless the context clearly requires otherwise.
(a) "Commercial whale watching" has the same meaning as defined in RCW 77.65.615.
(b) "Commercial whale watching operators" has the same meaning as defined in RCW 77.65.615.
(c) "Inland waters of Washington" means Puget Sound and related inland marine waters, including all salt waters of the state of Washington inside the international boundary line between Washington and British Columbia, and lying east of the junction of the Pacific Ocean and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and the rivers and streams draining to Puget Sound as mapped by water resource inventory areas 1 through 19 in WAC 173-500-040 as it exists on July 1, 2007.
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