On December 19, 2022, the City of Langley, Washington, signed a non-binding Proclamation declaring the rights of the Southern Resident Orcas, which include “the right to: life, autonomy, culture, free and safe passage, adequate food supply from naturally occurring sources, and freedom from conditions causing physical, emotional, or mental harm, including a habitat degraded by noise, pollution and contamination.” The Proclamation also recognizes that “Nature and all living beings…and the ecosystems upon which they depend, are recognized as possessing inherent rights, including to exist, flourish, evolve, regenerate, recover, and be restored.”
The Proclamation describes the City of Langley’s support for action by local, state, federal and tribal governments that secure and effectuate the inherent rights of the Southern Resident Orcas.
This Proclamation follows similar proclamations two weeks before by the cities of Port Townsend and Gig Harbor, Washington on December 5th and 12th, 2022.
The campaign to recognize the rights of the Southern Resident Orca is led by the Earth Law Center (ELC) and partner, Legal Rights for the Salish Sea (LRSS), to protect and recover their population and the ecosystems on which they depend. The long-term goal is State level recognition of the population’s inherent rights. The campaign was launched in 2018 and in 2022 ELC created a template resolution that serves as the basis for the subsequent local-level proclamations.