New fed rules to protect Puget Sound orcas

SEATTLE — New federal rules to protect endangered Puget Sound killer whales went into effect Monday.

The rules include a requirement that all recreational vessels, including whale watching boats and kayaks, stay twice as far away as previously required — 200 yards instead of 100 yards.

Government and research vessels, commercial fishing boats and cargo vessels traveling in established shipping lanes are exempt.

NOAA Fisheries said the rules safeguard orcas, which depend on sophisticated sonar to navigate and forage for food. Pollution and a lack of salmon also threaten the orcas.

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