Gov. Inslee signs range of bills aimed at helping orcas

SEATTLE (AP) — Gov. Jay Inslee has signed several bills designed to help the Pacific Northwest’s endangered orcas.

The measures include requiring more oil shipments to have tugboat escorts to prevent spills, allowing anglers to catch more walleye and bass that prey on young salmon, and giving state agencies the authority to ban toxic chemicals in consumer goods.

Other important parts include improving the state’s ability to enforce permit requirements for work that hardens shorelines, such as by installing bulkheads near homes, and making vessels stay farther away from orcas and go slower when they’re near them.

The legislation grew out of recommendations made by Inslee’s orca recovery task force last November. Researchers say the orcas are on the brink of extinction due mostly to a lack of their preferred prey, Chinook salmon.