Tag Archives: Southern Resident Killer Whale Task Force.

Sport Fishing Reaction To Final Orca Recommendations Sent To Gov

Washington’s Southern Resident Killer Whale Task Force has transmitted its recommendations for how to help out the state’s struggling orcas to Governor Inslee, and members of the sportfishing community are reacting to the final package.

WASHINGTON GOVERNOR JAY INSLEE SPEAKS BEFORE SIGNING AN EXECUTIVE ORDER ON ORCAS AND CHINOOK EARLIER THIS YEAR. THE ORDER CREATED THE SOUTHERN RESIDENT KILLER WHALE TASK FORCE THAT TODAY DELIVERED ITS FINAL RECOMMENDATIONS. (TVW)

An executive summary says the 148-page report provides an outline for meeting four key goals:

  • Increasing the abundance of Chinook, the key forage for the starving whales;
  • Decreasing disturbance from vessels with the affect of boosting their access to salmon;
  • Reducing contaminants in the environment;
  • And measures of accountability.

A PUGET SOUND ADULT CHINOOK SALMON SWIMS THROUGH THE BALLARD LOCKS. (NMFS)

It aims to increase the population of J, K and L Pods by 10 in 10 years, reversing the decrease seen since 1996. There are now only 74 orcas after this year saw the high-profile deaths of a just-born calf and a young animal as well as a third.

“I will review these recommendations over the coming weeks, and my staff and I will assess each one for the most impact in the short and long-term. I will roll out my budget and policy priorities in mid-December for consideration during the 2019 Legislative Session,” Gov. Inslee tweeted.

Ron Garner of Puget Sound Anglers, George Harris of the Northwest Marine Trade Association and Butch Smith of the Ilwaco Charters were among the dozens of task force members who signed on as supporting the entire package, while a whale watching world representative was the only no vote. Six others abstained.

Front and center, Goal 1 is to boost the numbers of Chinook that orcas depend on most.

That would be done through a mix of habitat restoration and acquisition projects, enforcing current laws that protect fish habitat, incentivizing private work that benefits salmon, and “significantly” boosting hatchery production.

With Puget Sound kings listed under the Endangered Species Act, that will have to be done carefully, but already the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is talking about how and where it might be possible to ramp things up for SRKWs.

“We did get the recommendation from the WDFW commission of 50 million Chinook into the recommendation to the Governor,” said PSA’s Garner.

It would take money and time were that to be implemented, but could potentially come online far faster than other parts of the goal.

A story out this week spotlighted the highly important but excruciatingly slow pace of salmon habitat work — 90 years to recover what plans call for for full estuary restoration.

“Production needs to be ramped up immediately, and follow the recovery/ESA sidebars in the recommendations,”
said Liz Hamilton of the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association, who is a member of the task force’s Prey Working Group.

However, she expressed concern about “organizations who will file lawsuits to fight increased production no matter how thoughtfully done and no matter how dire the need.”

Admittedly, anglers would also see “shirt tail” benefits of more Chinook, to hazard a guess primarily in South and Deep South Sound and terminal zones, which are well past whale feeding zones.

There had been calls to “completely stop salmon fishing” to make more prey available for orcas, but ultimately that wasn’t the direction of the task force.

“We were successful in getting the target off of our backs blaming fishing,” said Garner. “At one point we brought out the 87-page NOAA study that said if we stopped all fishing on the West Coast — California to Alaska — salmon would not recover.”

A GRAPH FROM THE TASK FORCE’S RECOMMENDATIONS SHOWS THE DECLINE IN CHINOOK AND COHO HARVEST IN WASHINGTON SALT- AND FRESHWATERS BY RECREATIONAL, TRIBAL AND COMMERCIAL FISHERMEN. (SRKWTF)

He said that he and others were able to convince the task force that reductions in salmon production due to ESA listings, Hatchery Scientific Review Group recommendations and the funding cuts that have particularly affected state facilities “put the entire system into shock.”

“The orcas, coastal communities, tribal communities, tackle retailers, fishing shops, boat shops, and everything that relies on salmon crashed. Our habitat is in terrible shape and we’re losing it faster than it’s being rebuilt,” he said.

Even if the larger target is off of the backs of fishermen as a whole, Hamilton remains vigilant about some possible closures she’s heard of that would only apply to sportfishing and wouldn’t help feed orcas.

As for those “cute little water puppies” stealing dinner from SRKWs, the plan includes a recommendation titled “Predation of Chinook: Decrease the number of adult and juvenile Chinook lost to predation by species other than Southern Residents.”

That begins with figuring out the impact of harbor seals and sea lions, which leaves a lot to be desired, but the task force does urge the legislature to fund that work by WDFW and the tribes.

It also requests that state fishery managers drop limits on popular walleye, bass, catfish and other nonnative species that are known to chow on Chinook smolts.

It doesn’t go as far as reader Larry Moller wants — herring hatcheries — but it does call for more work to be done to assess all the forage fish species so important to Chinook.

A PAIR OF SOUTHERN RESIDENT KILLER WHALES SWIM IN INLAND WATERS EARLIER THIS MONTH. (KATY FOSTER/NOAA FISHERIES)

As far as vessel disturbance, instead of no-go zones it calls for lawmakers to create go-slow bubbles around J, K and L Pods.

Garner termed warding off area closures a win, but also acknowledged that others in the boating world will be hurt by another recommendation:

An all-fleet, three- to five-year moratorium on watching the three groups of orcas.

“WDFW said they could have a boat around them to ward off everyone while they are in our waters,” said Garner. “I think this hurt the whale watchers. They said the locals SRKWs are only here 20 percent of the time. There was never any intent to do damage to the whale watching industry.”

It’s important to note that the moratorium would NOT affect watching transient orcas, grays or humpbacks.

The plan’s recommendations also call for creating a new $10 orca endorsement for boaters, but it takes more of a strong nudge approach in terms of asking anglers and others to turn off their fish- and depthfinders when orcas are within about a half-mile’s distance.

And as for one of the most controversial elements, Snake River dams, it recommends a stakeholder process to talk about their removal with help from a third-party neutral.

Speaking of dams, NSIA’s Hamilton continues to call for more spill down the mainstem Columbia, saying that upping it over current levels to help smolts downriver is modeled to yield real results in returning adult spring Chinook.

“Columbia River springers are a critical food source to orcas during winter when there is little else to nourish pregnant and migrating orcas. Tags show they do circles off the mouth of the Columbia River during March,” she says.

A N.M.F.S STORY MAP SHOWS AN ORCA KNOWN AS K25 ALL BUT SWIMMING LAPS AROUND THE C.R. BUOY AS THE 2013 RUN OF SPRING CHINOOK ENTERED THE COLUMBIA RIVER. PRIOR TO THE ARRIVAL OF THE SALMON THAT YEAR, THE WHALE PATROLLED UP AND DOWN THE WEST COAST. (NMFS)

But she worries that the state is moving “too slow” on that key action and might even go “backward” next year.

“The first items were of immediate actions. If we are to have salmon and orca in our future, the long-term actions are critical,” says Hamilton. “We must enforce existing laws, we must protect and restore salmon habitats, and the science also says we should look at the effects of dams, especially the four lower Snake River dams.”

Even as the task force handled that issue with kid gloves, it urged the legislature to fund the dismantling of two other dams, one on the Pilchuck that has been attracting a lot of coverage of late, and another in the Nooksack watershed.

Besides Garner, Harris and Smith, the list of other task force members in the fishing world who consented to the final package include:

Amy Windrope of WDFW; BJ Kiefer of the Spokane Tribe; Brad Smith of the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission; commercial fisherman Brendan Flynn; Chad Bowechop of the Makah Tribe; Jacques White of Long Live the Kings; Lynne Barre of the National Marine Fisheries Service; Paul McCollum of the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe; Rep. Brian Blake of the state House of Representatives; and Terry Williams of the Tulalip Tribes.

Those who abstained included representatives from the Washington Farm Bureau, Washington Forest Protection Association and Association of Washington Businesses, and the Lummi, Squaxin Island and Skokomish Tribes.

The report also includes next steps, identifies which agency is tasked with dealing with what recommendations, minority reports from task force members about ideas they don’t support, and a rundown on public comments.

Now it is up to the governor and the legislature to put some teeth in the recommendations.

Task Force Makes Key Recommendations For Orcas, Chinook

Significantly increasing Chinook abundance to help out starving orcas is among the recommendations Washington’s Southern Resident Killer Whale Task Force voted to forward to Governor Jay Inslee yesterday.

A PUGET SOUND ADULT CHINOOK SALMON SWIMS THROUGH THE BALLARD LOCKS. (NMFS)

Ron Garner of Puget Sound Anglers said it was a tough go with a lot of pushback from hatchery reformers, but he says a coalition of fishing interests got a recommendation that includes releasing as many as 50 million more smolts than were this year across the finish line.

“Butch Smith from Ilwaco, our tribes, and I pounded and pounded on that and finally got it in. WDFW’s Amy Windrope was key to helping me keeping it in and making sure it was supported by the Task Force. Without the bold statement that we endorse it, we most likely wouldn’t get anything out of it,” PSA’s statewide president said.

The governor and legislature must still buy into and fund Recommendation 6, which says any hatchery increases should be done in concert with habitat improvements, as well as be consistent with ESA constraints and management plans, but the lack of salmon — primarily Chinook — is one of the key reasons the orcas haven’t been doing well in recent years.

In an executive order this past March that also created the task force, Inslee began pushing the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to boost production of the salmon stock, and two months ago the agency temporarily closed salmon fishing on the Samish River to allow more broodstock to reach the hatchery.

The 50 million figure comes from the Fish and Wildlife Commission which in late summer expressed support for upping smolt releases from select facilities, 30 million in Puget Sound and 20 million in the Columbia.

Kings in both areas were identified in a joint state-federal study as key feed stocks for the southern residents, and it’s no secret that increasing production would also provide “shirttail benefits” for fishermen.

Tens of millions more used to be released in Puget Sound — 55 million by the state in 1989 alone — and elsewhere in the past, but those have tailed off as runs declined and Endangered Species Act listings and hatchery reforms came into play to try and recover wild returns. The plight of the fish, SRKWs and fishermen of all fleets are intertwined.

MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC AND WASHINGTON’S SOUTHERN RESIDENT KILLER WHALE TASK FORCE GATHERED IN PUYALLUP ON TUESDAY TO GO OVER RECOMMENDATIONS FOR A FINAL REPORT HEADED TO GOVERNOR INSLEE’S DESK AHEAD OF THE 2019 LEGISLATIVE SESSION. THE MEETING WAS BROADCAST ON TVW, WHERE THIS SCREEN GRAB CAME FROM. (TVW)

Garner said he had to “get way down into the weeds” to show that more than a dozen rivers in Puget Sound were stocked with more than 35 million Green River fall kings by the old Department of Fisheries alone in the 1980s, a figure he says doesn’t account for tribal and federal releases either.

“My point was that there are no wild gene pools left, as this is just one instance as we have been mixing stocks for over 100 years. The tribes backed me up and said our habitat is not going to come back anytime soon and hatcheries are the future until we can fix the millions of people moving into the Puget Sound (region) and losing more habitat,” he said.

“The tribes, WDFW, and a few sporties came together yesterday for a big win for the orcas and fishing!”

Garner was among the members of the task force who met on Election Tuesday in a “fishbowl” format at the state fairgrounds in Puyallup. The meeting was broadcast on TVW.

During the day-long confab and under the guidance of facilitator Susan Gulick, the group made slight tweaks to pinniped recommendations and essentially added more stakeholder process for residents and businesses potentially affected by Snake River dam removal.

Returning Idaho kings are important for orcas as they forage off the Washington Coast, researchers found by studying their doots, the dam-and-lock and hydropower systems an economic lifeline to the Inland Northwest.

A PAIR OF SOUTHERN RESIDENT KILLER WHALES SWIM IN INLAND WATERS. (KATY FOSTER/NOAA FISHERIES)

One of the task force’s most immediately tweetworthy moves was to agree to recommend suspending southern resident killer whale watching for all fleets — commercial, recreational, kayak, rubber dingy, etc., etc., etc. — for the next three to five years.

Disturbance from vessels is another key factor in why orcas are struggling, but a draconian “no-go zone” around the west side of San Juan Island — whether whales were feeding in this critical foraging area or not — has been tabled in favor of a bubble approach.

“There is now going to be a closure around wherever J, K, and L Pods are,” reports Garner. “They will be monitored by WDFW boats and if they come into an area, everyone has to leave. The whale watchers were not happy, but J, K and L are only there 20 percent of the time.”

The recommendation would not affect watchers’ ability to view humpback whales or transient orcas in Puget Sound and elsewhere.

TASK FORCE MEMBERS DISCUSS RECOMMENDATIONS IN THE “FISHBOWL” LATER IN THE DAY YESTERDAY. (TVW)

Next up is for the task force to send the governor its final report, due in mid-November, ahead of 2019’s legislative session, when lawmakers will need to fund many of the measures or enact laws to enforce them.

For WDFW task force member and Region 4 director Amy Windrope, the most important facet of this more than half-year-long process has been that the final recommendations had majority support from a diverse set of stakeholders and that the public turned out and joined the conversation.

And not just Puget Sound, Washington and Northwest residents, but people from as far away as England, Scotland and Germany.

“It was so powerful to hear the public talk about their love of orcas,” Windrope said.

AN ORCA BREACHES IN THE SAN JUAN ISLANDS. (BLM)

Revised Orca Recommendations Out For Public Comment Before Final Report Due

Revised orca recommendations are back out for public comment, and there’s a pretty tight turnaround for submitting feedback this go-around.

A MEMBER OF A SOUTHERN RESIDENT KILLER WHALE POD FLICKS ITS TAIL. (CANDACE EMMONS, NMFS, FLICKR, HTTPS://CREATIVECOMMONS.ORG/LICENSES/BY-NC-ND/2.0/)

Midnight Oct. 29 is the deadline for expressing the level of support you have to a pared-down list of 36 items, as well as giving your top five things to do to help the starving southern resident killer whales.

The list comes out of last week’s Governor Jay Inslee’s Southern Resident Killer Whale Recovery and Task Force meetings, and were posted today.

After comments are collected, the group which includes anglers and boating interests will finalize its year 1 recommendations on what to do about major threats to orcas, with a final report to be issued in mid-November, ahead of next year’s legislative session.

This isn’t to say the other two-dozen draft recommendations aren’t worthy of attention, but a number will catch the eyes of Washington anglers.

They include:

Significantly increasing restoration and acquisition of habitat in the watersheds of key Chinook stocks

Example: “Emphasize large-scale estuary restoration programs focused on the Nooksack, Skagit, Stillaguamish, Possession Sound, Green-Duwamish, Puyallup, the mouth of the Columbia, and Chehalis rivers. Prioritize grant making for restoration that increases Chinook recovery in the short term.”

Enforcing habitat protection laws on the books

Example: “Direct WDNR, WDFW, and DOE to identify and report to the Task Force in 2019 on approaches using existing habitat, instream flow, and water quality regulations to improve prey availability.”

Boosting production of hatchery Chinook known to benefit orcas in coordination with habitat and restoration actions

Example: “Authorize/provide funding for WDFW to coordinate with co-managers to increase hatchery production at facilities in Puget Sound, on the Washington Coast, and in the Columbia River basin in a manner consistent with sustainable fisheries and stock management and the ESA. Decisions on hatchery production implementation are made by WDFW and tribal co-managers, with Endangered Species Act consultation from NOAA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service where appropriate.”

Getting salmon above run-blocking dams

Example: “Provide funding to WDFW and regional salmon organizations to coordinate with partners to determine how to re-establish sustainable salmon runs above dams including, but not limited to, the Chief Joseph and Grand Coulee Dams on the Columbia River and the Tacoma Diversion, Howard Hanson and Mud Mountain dams in the Puget Sound. Provide policy support for actions needed. Prioritize projects that produce downstream adult Chinook.”

Figuring out if harbor seals and sea lions are limiting Chinook numbers in Puget Sound and the coast and consider what can be done about it

Example: “Conduct a pilot project for the removal or alteration of artificial haul out sites where sites are associated with significant outmigration and predation of Chinook smolts. Fund a study to determine if pilot removal accomplishes the goal of significantly reducing Chinook smolt predation.”

Supporting controlling sea lions in the Columbia

Example: “Support MMPA authorization to add Steller sea lions to the list of pinnipeds managed in the lower Columbia River. Support increasing removal levels and altering removal requirements.”

Relaxing regulations on popular but Chinook smolt-eating game fish species

Example: “Adjust game fish regulations and remove catch and size limits on non-native predatory fish—including, but not limited to, walleye, bass, and channel catfish—to encourage removal of these predatory fish, where appropriate.”

Passing a new law to create a slow-speed bubble zone around orcas

Example: “Enact legislation in 2019 creating a half-mile “go-slow” zone, defined as speeds of 7 knots over ground or less.”

Creating a new and annual certification program for all Puget Sound boaters

Example: “Create a $10 marine endorsement called a Be Whale Wise certification which would be required annually for all boats on the inland marine waters.”

Asking anglers and others not to use fish finders and other transducers within a kilometer of orcas

Example: “Establish a “standard of care” for small vessel operators limiting the use of echo sounders and other underwater transducers within a half nautical mile of Southern Resident orcas. Implement as a voluntary measure and provide exceptions for safe navigation.”

And switching from the voluntary to required go-slow and no-go zones in a key feeding and fishing area of the San Juans

Example: “Establish a no-go whale protection zone for commercial whale watching vessels, recreational vessels, and commercial kayak groups on the west side of San Juan Island from Pile Point to Mitchell Bay, within ¼ mile of shore. Allow vessels to transect the no-go zone to exit from shore.”

Chance To Comment On Orca Recommendations

You have two weeks to submit comments on potential proposals that Washington’s southern resident killer whale task force‘s three working groups rolled out yesterday.

The task force as a whole will review the public’s submissions in mid-October and send a final report with its agreed-to recommendations to Governor Jay Inslee in mid-November.

AN ORCA BREACHES IN THE SAN JUAN ISLANDS. (BLM)

Some of the ideas that will catch the eyes of fishermen include:

  • Boost hatchery Chinook production: There are three proposals, with 1A calling for increased releases, 1B for pilot projects and 1C, a combination of both along with habitat improvements. Upping production would require funding for more infrastructure and to complete scientific reviews;
  • Fund habitat purchases and restoration projects benefiting key Chinook stocks;
  • Develop a system to be able to close sport and commercial fisheries when orcas are in key feeding zones. This could go into effect by next spring and would appear to be dependent on setting up more hydrophones to better track SRKW movements, which is another potential recommendation;
  • Ask fishermen and boaters to switch their fish- and depthfinders from 50 kHz to 200 kHz within half a mile of orcas;
  • Buyout nontreaty commercial licenses and work with the tribes to consider the feasibility of doing so with treaty fishermen or switching to gear with lower impacts on Chinook;
  • Establish a half-mile-wide, 7-knots-or-less go-slow zone around orcas;
  • Create new no-go zones on the west side of San Juan Island and elsewhere in the islands and Strait of Juan de Fuca;
  • Continue studying the problem of pinniped predation on Chinook or begin a pilot program to immediately start removing the haul-outs of salmon-eating harbor seals, or both, as well as continue pushing the federal government for more management options to deal with sea lions in the Columbia and its tribs;
  • Reclassify walleye and bass as invasive, which would remove the “game fish” designation and subsequent rules against wastage;
  • Study whether altering the McNary Pool’s elevation would reduce the numbers of salmonid smolt-eating fish in the reservoir;
  • Develop a better understanding of Puget Sound forage fish populations;
  • Support Chinook reintroduction into the Upper Columbia and prioritize removing fish passage barriers that would benefit stocks elsewhere;
  • And continue to be involved in the conversation surrounding what to do with the four dams on the lower Snake River to varying degrees.

A HARBOR SEAL STEALS A CHINOOK OFF THE END OF AN ANGLER’S LINE IN THE SAN JUAN ISLANDS. (HUGH ALLEN)

There are many more, including potential recommendations addressing habitat, hydropower operations, contaminants and marine vessels.

The task force was convened earlier this year when the governor signed an executive order directing state agencies to begin doing what they could to help out the orcas, which are struggling due to lack of Chinook and other factors.

WDFW STAFFER EDWARD ELEAZER PARTICIPATED IN A TRIAL TO SEE WHETHER IT WAS POSSIBLE TO FEED AILING ORCA J50, NOW PRESUMED DEAD. A LACK OF CHINOOK IS STARVING LOCAL PODS. (KATY FOSTER/NOAA/FLICKR)

Since members of the panel — which includes Puget Sound Anglers’ Ron Garner, the Northwest Marine Trade Association’s George Harris, Long Live the Kings’ Jacques White, WDFW’s Brad Smith and Amy Windrope, tribal members and legislators Rep. Brian Blake and Sen. Kevin Ranker — began meeting two whales have died, including a newborn and a three-year-old adding urgency to the mission.

Some ideas did not make the cut from the working groups, but near the end of the public survey a question asks if they would otherwise be part of your top five strategies.

Those include further reducing fishing time in the Straits and San Juans in summer; coming up with a limited-entry recreational fishing permit system for key orca foraging areas; increasing WDFW’s hydraulic code enforcement budget; working with the Burlington Northern Sante Fe railroad on habitat work along the tracks as they run up Puget Sound; and pushing for the Corps of Engineers to quit the four dams on the lower Snake and then take them out, among others.

Orca Task Force Proposed Mission Statement Blasted For Overlooking Seal Predation

“This is going to be the Kill Sport Fishing Task Force.”

That’s Tom Nelson’s no-holds-barred assessment of an initial work product out of Governor Jay Inslee’s Southern Resident Killer Whale Task Force.

TOM NELSON SAYS THAT THE GOVERNOR’S ORCA TASK FORCE IS OVERLOOKING A HUGE PROBLEM, SEAL AND SEA LIONS THAT ARE CONSUMING SIX TIMES AS MANY PUGET SOUND CHINOOK AS RECREATIONAL, COMMERCIAL AND TRIBAL FISHING FLEETS ARE. (THEOUTDOORLINE.COM)

Rather than address the fact harbor seals and other marine mammals are eating up starving local orcas’ breakfast, lunch, dinner and midnight snacks, a proposed mission statement from the group says it will instead seek to enact “temporary emergency measures to offset any shortfall in prey availability.”

Nelson, co-host of the Saturday morning fishing and hunting radio show The Outdoor Line on Seattle’s 710 ESPN, interprets that to mean cutting salmon angling seasons, plain and simple.

“We’ve suffered cut after cut after cut after cut,” he bristles.

The statement also calls for reducing vessel traffic in whale feeding areas by 50 percent by the year 2022.

That probably doesn’t mean ferries, tankers and other shipping traffic, at least in Nelson’s eyes.

“It’s all going to be fishing and whale watching and recreational boats,” he says.

It all boggles Nelson, and this afternoon he ripped the apparent low-hanging-fruit approach on KIRO Radio 97.3’s Dori Monson Show.

He told his fellow radio host that officials were “ducking, dodging and diving from doing the right thing.”

A HARBOR SEAL SWIMS BESIDE A BOAT OFF KINGSTON IN MID-JULY. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

The task force’s “full draft” report for how to recover orcas isn’t due till Oct. 1, but that the mission statement doesn’t mention pinnipeds is highly perplexing.

Nelson points to a 2017 paper that looked at king salmon consumption in Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, San Juan Islands and Hood Canal over the previous 45 years.

“Converting juvenile Chinook salmon into adult equivalents, we found that by 2015, pinnipeds consumed double that of resident killer whales and six times greater than the combined commercial and recreational catches,” the authors’ abstract reads.

Another paper from last year with a wider lens says, “Harbor seals in the Salish Sea (i.e. Puget Sound, Strait of Georgia, and Strait of San Juan de Fuca) accounted for 86.4% of the total coast wide (Chinook) smolt consumption in 2015, due to large increases in the harbor seal abundance in this region between 1975 and 2015 (8,600 to 77,800), as well as a large diet fraction of Chinook salmon smolts relative to other regions.”

FIGURES IN “COMPETING TRADEOFFS BETWEEN INCREASING MARINE MAMMAL PREDATION AND FISHERIES HARVEST OF CHINOOK SALMON,” PUBLISHED IN SCIENTIFIC REPORTS LAST FALL, ILLUSTRATES THE INCREASING CONSUMPTION OF INDIVIDUAL CHINOOK AND CHINOOK BIOMASS BY HARBOR SEALS (BLUE) AND OTHER MARINE MAMMALS. (CHASCO ET AL)

Coastwide, the all-fleet king catch has decreased from 3.6 million to 2.1 million.

As for the paper that the governor’s group appears to be leaning on, it doesn’t mention harbor seals or sea lions once.

It does say that “a 50% noise reduction plus a 15% increase in Chinook would allow the (SRKW) population to reach the 2.3% growth target.”

That 15 percent figure can also be found in the task force’s proposed mission statement: “By 2028: In the near term, our goal is to maintain reductions in vessel disturbance and underwater noise and increase Chinook prey abundance by 15% by 2028.”

Hatchery production increases are being considered and recently state and federal biologists identified the most important Chinook rivers for SRKWs.

Noise, pollutants and prey availability are believed to be the three key factors in why J, K and L pods are struggling, but the task force paper also states, “The whales’ depleted status is due in large part to the legacy of an unsustainable live-capture fishery for display in aquariums.”

It was popular to go to SeaWorld and see orcas eat fish out of trainers’ hands.

Ironically, Nelson was threatened with a $500 fine this week for flipping a finger-sized chunk of a salmon carcass to a harbor seal hanging out in the Everett marina, where he moors his boat.

He was on camera with KING 5 for a story illustrating the abundance of harbor seals in Puget Sound.

As soon as he tossed out that piece of fish to one of the “water puppies” that more and more appear to beg for scraps from fishermen and others, he and the camera crew’s phones started ringing and he eventually found himself on the line with a federal enforcement officer.

It all may go down as a warning, but it’s illegal to feed the Marine Mammal Protection Act species.

The day before a harbor seal ate a wild Chinook right off the end of Nelson’s line as he tried to release it.

HUGH ALLEN SNAPPED THIS HARBOR SEAL STEALING A SAN JUANS SALMON LITERALLY OFF AN ANGLER’S LINE. (HUGH ALLEN)

So how would Nelson deal with the overpopulation of harbor seals that are eating Puget Sound Chinook, many of which would otherwise grow into adults and upon their return to the Salish Sea provide nourishment for the orcas?

“If we could cut their numbers in half, it could do something. We could stop this by trapping and releasing them in the ocean,” he proposes.

There, they’d be subject to being preyed on transient killer whales, the pinniped-eating kind.

“We’re going to have to act,” he says. “It ain’t gonna be nice, it ain’t gonna be pretty.”

This week, lawmakers in Washington DC voted to expand state and tribal managers’ authority to remove sea lions from more of the Lower Columbia and its tribs to reduce their predation on ESA-listed salmon and steelhead stocks.

Hold that thought, Senators.