Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Seattle Meeting to Discuss Marine Noise

By Karen Robes Meeks

Leading maritime agencies gathered in Seattle recently to discuss efforts to curb underwater noise that is harming endangered Southern Resident killer whales.

Representatives of the Port of Seattle, Port of Tacoma, Northwest Seaport Alliance, Washington State Ferries, NOAA, and the Puget Sound Partnership teamed to bring about a workshop that could help lower the noise pollution for the orcas, who have a hard time hunting and communicating underwater because of the noise.

“It was heartening to have such a broad range of expertise in the same room committed to tackling the critical issue of orca survival in the Salish Sea,” said Port of Seattle Commissioner and Northwest Seaport Alliance Managing Member, Fred Felleman, who studied killer whales in graduate school and championed the workshop. “As we know from the study of cooperative hunters such as wolves, lions, and orcas, we can accomplish great things when we work together, and the recovery of our iconic orca hinges on our collaboration.”

The workshop addressed various matters, such as “acoustic monitoring, real-time notification of orca presence to mariners, vessel operations, and technology and innovation,” the port said. Officials hope these discussions will lead to agreements by mid-2020.