Orca whale restrictions are delayed

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Proposed federal rules to protect endangered Puget Sound orca whales by restricting how close recreational and commercial boats can get to them will not go into effect this year, as expected.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration extended the public comment period from its original closing date in October to Jan. 15, according to the Bellingham Herald.

The agency will need additional time after that to analyze the comments and continue with rulemaking, says Lynne Barre, marine mammal specialist with NOAA Fisheries Service.

Regulators hope to have regulations in place before the 2011 summer boating season.

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