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Mayor Hall Named to Killer Whale Recovery Task Force

Post Date:04/25/2018 4:04 pm

Governor Jay Inslee has invited Shoreline Mayor Will Hall to serve on the new Southern Resident Killer Whale Task Force. Governor Inslee created the Task Force in an Executive Order last month.

The endangered southern resident killer whales spend part of the year in Puget Sound. Their population has dwindled from a high of 98 in 1995 to only 76 animals today. Very few of them are breeding and they are suffering from lack of food, toxic pollution, and disturbance from noise and vessel traffic. Learn more about breeding difficulties of the southern resident killer whales in a Seattle Times article: ‘Two guys are doing all of the work’: Southern-resident orcas’ inbreeding may devastate the population.

In his Executive Order, Governor Inslee asked state agencies to take immediate action to improve conditions for the whales. He created the Task Force to develop recommendations for long-term recovery and sustainability.

“Killer whales have thrilled me since I was a kid,” said Mayor Hall. “Crowds enjoy watching and taking pictures when they show up at Richmond Beach. It is an honor to be chosen for this important work.”

Killer whales, also called orcas, can live 30 to 70 years. The local population depends on Chinook salmon for more than half their diet. Puget Sound Chinook salmon are so depleted they are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

“This is not just about whales,” said Mayor Hall. “They are literally starving because there isn’t enough food. It is an ecosystem problem. It affects our economy and quality of life. Human activities have altered our waters and watersheds so severely that the entire food chain is at risk. We need to take action to save these whales and the Puget Sound ecosystem for ourselves and our kids.”

Mayor Hall is the only city official on the 31-member Task Force, which includes representatives from federal, state, tribal, and county governments, and business, fishing, and environmental organizations. The Task Force will meet over 18 months and make recommendations to the governor. All meetings will be open to the public. The first meeting will be in Lacey on May 1.

“This is a great opportunity to continue the environmental work I have done for decades,” said Mayor Hall. Hall has represented cities on the Puget Sound Partnership Ecosystem Coordination Board since 2011 and he has chaired that board since 2016. He worked on Puget Sound and salmon issues professionally for twenty years, most recently as Snohomish County’s Surface Water Management Director. He left that position earlier this year to have more time for environmental work and service on the Shoreline City Council.

Mayor Hall has a master’s degree from the University of Washington School of Marine and Environmental Affairs, where his research focused on salmon recovery. He was elected to the Shoreline City Council in 2009 and reelected in 2013 and 2017. In addition to the Ecosystem Coordination Board, his external committee responsibilities include serving on the Board of Directors of the Association of Washington Cities and on regional Sound Transit committees.

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