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Washington governor set to sign order on orca protections

SEATTLE -- Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is set to establish an executive order calling for state actions to protect the unique population of endangered orcas that spend time in Puget Sound.

The fish-eating whales have struggled due to lack of food, pollution and noise and disturbances from vessels. There are now just 76, a 30-year low.

Inslee's executive order will direct state agencies to take immediate steps and identify long-term solutions to help the whales. It would set up a task force to come up with recommendations.

Inslee is rolling out the order at a news conference Wednesday morning in Seattle.

The Legislature passed a supplemental budget Friday that includes money for increased patrols to keep boaters at a distance from the orcas and money to boost hatchery production of fish that the orcas prefer.