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New law on killer whale watching isn't killing business

BELLINGHAM — A local whale watch cruise operator says proposed new federal rules to protect Puget Sound orca whales don't appear to be too drastic.

"They're not horrible, they're not great," said Drew Schmidt, owner of Victoria San Juan Cruises.

Schmidt said the proposed set of rules is lengthy, and he wanted to study those rules before commenting in more detail. But he said it appeared that federal regulators responded to some extent to input from him and other whale watch vessel operators in the region.

"They're not going to put us out of business," Schmidt said.

The rules proposal, issued Tuesday, July 28, by NOAA's Fisheries Service, would prohibit vessels from coming within 200 yards of the endangered mammals, also known as killer whales.

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