Sunday, November 18, 2018

Youth Voice for Orcas: London Fletcher

Above: London Fletcher, 11, of Blaine, Washington, delivered a fiery speech at a rally for the remaining 74 Southern Resident orcas on the steps of the Temple of Justice in Olympia on Friday.

“We can no longer wait for the gears of bureaucracy,” Fletcher said.

By Janine Gates
Little Hollywood

On behalf of the climate and Earth’s creatures, youth voices are rising. No longer can they be ignored and no longer will they be silenced.

London Fletcher, 11, of Blaine, Washington, wants to be a marine biologist specializing in cetaceans. 

In an article written two years ago for Dam Sense, Fletcher wrote, “Do not be distracted by my age. Please pay attention instead to the facts that we all need to know about our salmon and our killer whales.”

A marine activist for years, Fletcher is president and founder of The Blue Advocates Group, an ocean awareness organization for children and teens in Blaine, as well as a responder for the Whatcom Marine Mammal Stranding Network and a research assistant at the Orca Research Trust. She is the world’s youngest member of the Society of Marine Mammalogy.

She has visited the Snake River dams and in August testified in front of the Southern Resident Orca Task Force convened by Washington State Governor Jay Inslee.

Inslee received a report by the task force on Friday and said he will review its 36 recommendations.

No one appeared to be distracted during Fletcher’s fiery speech about the remaining 74 Southern Resident orcas at a rally in Olympia on Friday.

In fact, her words brought tears to the eyes of some observers as she delivered them on the steps of the Temple of Justice.

“We can no longer wait for the gears of bureaucracy,” Fletcher said, her words loud and clear.

“Governor, I come to you again today on behalf of the critically endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales of the Salish Sea, the 700 thousand people who have signed our petition to breach the lower four Snake River dams, and as the spokesperson of the generation who will inherit the problems stemming from the decision you make today.

“Mr. Governor, in your inaugural speech, you said you want to reinvest in ourselves, in our future and in our children’s future, and to do these things we must act in a bipartisan way. You said that our core mission is serving the people of Washington, and every single thing we do should reflect that mission. Well, Mr. Governor, the people of Washington have spoken and you’re right, it is time to remember who we are as a state.

“Now, I must ask, who are we as leaders? Is your administration going to be remembered as the orca killers? Or the ones who stopped the relentless march of extinction in its tracks and set sail on a course toward a brighter future?

“Mr. Governor, I ask again, what legacy will you leave behind for my generation? Will it be a legacy of crippling debt? Will it be a legacy of mass extinction and barren waters? Or will it be a legacy of hope and prosperity?

“…the legacy you leave behind will be defined by your bravery or by your cowardice. That choice is yours to make, Mr. Governor,” she continued.

Recommendation 28 of the Orca Task Force suggests suspending the viewing of Southern Resident orcas in Puget Sound for the next three to five years.

Fletcher took issue with this and other recommendations:

“The laundry list of recommendations and the ‘bold’ last minute introduction and passage of wording proposing a meaningless moratorium of a benign activity while skirting the major problem for these whales – salmon population crashes throughout their range – is appalling.

“Mr. Governor, I implore you to do what is right so your grandchildren will be able to say on this day, ‘My Grandfather stood for what is just and what is right.’

“Today, I am young and life is long, and my purpose is clear. The days of killing our rivers, streams, fish and precious Southern Resident Killer Whales are numbered and I will never give up this fight.

“Today I made good on my pledge to fight for the orca and I hope that you stand with folks like me, and those you see before you today on the steps of our State Capitol who come to beg for the lives of these precious animals.

“Mr. Governor, the evil of the extinction and extermination of a noble and sentient family of whales unlike any other in the world is upon you.

“The entire world is watching. Do the right thing.”

Above: An Orca Formation of Mourning rally for the remaining 74 Southern Resident orcas was held on the steps of the Temple of Justice on Friday in Olympia. It was organized by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Portland.

Little Hollywood wrote about the Southern Resident Orca Task Force recommendations and Friday rally at