Earth Law for the Southern Resident Orcas and Salish Sea

Although protected under multiple environmental laws including the Endangered Species Act, the Southern Resident orcas continue to decline. Earth law offers a solution to help restore the health of the Salish Sea while allowing the orcas to recover.

Both San Francisco and Malibu have passed resolutions on the rights of whales and dolphins, and more than 20 countries now recognize the Rights of Nature through laws and judicial decisions.         

what you can do

Earth Law Center is a part of a broad coalition of community groups, indigenous peoples, scientists, lawyers, and NGOs working to recognize the rights of the Southern Resident Orcas. You can take these steps to help protect the orcas:

  1. Sign and share this petition to support Legal Rights for the Salish Sea.

  2. Present the declaration to your city council. Your city can either pass this declaration as a resolution or ordinance or use it as the foundation for your own Rights of Nature law or policy.

  3. Email a letter with the declaration to your council members and follow up with phone calls. Ask for a meeting to discuss a new resolution or ordinance. Ask others to email letters of support as well. You can use this talking point sheet (PDF) and FAQ (PDF) to assist you.

  4. Mobilize your friends and gain support, bring this declaration to events and gatherings.

  5. Send a letter to your legislative and Congressional representatives urging them to recognize the Rights of the Southern Resident Orcas. You can use this sample letter to get started.

If your community allows local lawmaking by initiative then you can engage in direct democracy by drafting and passing a law that recognizes the Rights of the Southern Resident Orcas, the Salish Sea, and other ecosystems.

You can also write letters and attend the meetings of agencies and committees, such as the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and its management boards, the Washington Coastal Marine Advisory Committee and the Pacific Fishery Management Council.

ELC is partnering with Legal Rights for the Salish Sea, Pender Ocean Defenders, Elizabeth Dunne, PETA and the Nonhuman Rights Project to seek rights recognition for the endangered Southern Resident Orca population and the Salish Sea.

Read more about legal rights for orcas on our blog

For more information, contact Ocean Rights Manager Michelle Bender at mbender@earthlaw.org.

You can help by subscribing to our newsletter, volunteering, or donating to Earth Law Center.

By Rebeccah Robinson

By Rebeccah Robinson