In 2017, Governor Jay Inslee signed an executive order creating the Orca Task Force which brought together many stakeholders to address the dire situation of the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW). Over two years the Orca Task Force members identified three main areas that threaten the SRKW; prey availability, toxins, and physical and acoustic disturbance from vessels. Scientific research indicates underwater vessel noise at certain ranges impedes the orca’s ability to communicate and hunt. The Orca Task Force provided recommendations on how to address this issue – recommendation #22 reads “Implement shipping noise-reduction initiatives and monitoring programs, coordinating with Canadian and U.S. authorities.” A proposal was developed and submitted to the state legislature to fund a program similar to one already established in British Columbia, Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO). The funding was approved in spring 2021 and it was decided that the nonprofit organization Washington Maritime Blue would serve as the administrative support for the new program, Quiet Sound.
Quiet Sound is a collaborative program that aims to reduce the impact of large commercial vessels on SRKW through voluntary measures. Washington Maritime Blue, a nonprofit, provides administrative and financial support, the decision-making body for Quiet Sound is a group of stakeholders organized into a Leadership Committee and five Working Groups. These stakeholders include state, federal, and tribal governments, industry, research, and nonprofit groups.
In 2023, NOAA recognized Maritime Blue as the 2023 Partner in the Spotlight for Quiet Sound’s exceptional efforts related to the conservation and recovery of Southern Resident Killer Whales. This award is given to one organization or initiative every other year. We are honored by this award, which belongs not to us but to the coalition of people across the state who have come together to make data-driven changes in commercial shipping for the conservation of these whales.
Respect Treaty Rights
Engender the highest level of respect for treaty rights and coordinate actions with WA tribes.
Leverage relationships with public, private, and non-profit sector partners to ensure cost-effective and coordinated utilization of resources
Commitment to Equity
Reflect equity, diversity, and inclusion in hiring, contracting, and participation
Transparency and Integrity
Be transparent and well-documented.
Promote voluntary compliance.
Effective Decision Making
Employ “best available science” in decision-making and support data collection to fill gaps.
Respect for the Data
Promote data-driven, targeted, and results-oriented projects.