Quotes from NOAA about the SRKWs



“Yes, it would be better if there was more food, however these whales seem to be finding enough food.” 

“If your plan for the orcas’ survival is based on breaching the Snake River dams, you will watch the orcas go extinct.”

While I agree that the dams are not the only issue at play here, denying that they play a major impact on the Chinook salmon population as well as denying that the SRKWs are starving when the transients are doing just fine is absolutely ridiculous. NOAA, it’s time for you to start listening to the Center for Whale Research. They know these whales far better than you do. You already killer L95 Nigel with your negligence, don’t be the reason anymore die.  

The whales aren’t starving? Weren’t these guys supposed to be scientists?

I would like to point out that NOAA is a large multidisciplinary agency and that the biologists work for a different section than the managers do. It is the job of the biologists to study the animals, figure out what the problems are, and then provide managers with the evidence needed to create effective management. It is the job of the managers to actually use that information and make decisions.

This is my general plea to not go after the biologists for NOAA. They have collected much of the data that has shown us what the problems the SRKW are facing (prey depletion, vessel/noise disturbance, and toxins). I truly do not believe they are the people we need to be upset with. By all means, be upset with NOAA management (I am upset too!) because it’s clear they are not doing their jobs.

Regarding the first quote, it was taken from an email response NOAA sent to somebody who contacted them about the SRKW. We do not know who from NOAA is replying to inquiries about the SRKW but I suspect it’s likely a PR or public outreach employee. It’s important to give these quotes some context.

I really like this comment from Robin Baird I saw on a Facebook post regarding NOAA actions For those that don’t know, Baird is a marine mammal biologist that has studied killer whales (including the SRKW) in great detail:

Your comments, and many other comments on this thread (and on this topic in general) imply that NOAA can and should do one thing and one thing only, and that they somehow have the power to do whatever they want, regardless of what ranchers and farmers want, what power companies want, and what state and tribal and local governments want. Any decision by NOAA can be challenged in court, and while you and I may think we know what needs to be done, unless you get the ranchers, farmers, fishing interests, tribes, and power companies on board (and probably a few other groups that I’ve forgotten about), any one of those groups could (and probably would) challenge any action in court. You should know that researchers and managers work for different parts of the agency and the job of the researchers is to build the evidence needed for effective management. It is the job of the managers to act on the evidence. Whether they act is another question, and that can be influenced by politics and the administration. Has everyone forgotten what the current administration has said and done in regards to environmental regulations since the administration came in?. As I’ve said in another posting, I don’t think complaining, or attacking NOAA (or any of the other constituents interested in water, or fish) is the solution. I think you should all use all this righteous indignation strategically.”

I believe he makes a very good point at not throwing all of our anger at NOAA. What about the politicians? Special interest groups? The physical act of breaching the Snake River Dams might be relatively straightforward but the politics surrounding it are not. As Baird pointed out, farmers and energy companies may not be so supportive of breaching the dams. How can we reach out to them and convince them that this needs to be done? What sort of political blocks need to be addressed? How is the current administration under Trump influencing NOAA management decision? How can we efficiently force NOAA management to take proper action in restoring salmon populations and habitat?

I don’t know the answers to all of these questions, but I can be sure that screaming at NOAA and NOAA alone is not effective.