The Marine Exchange of Puget Sound with the U.S. Coast Guard Release Comprehensive Cetacean Guide for Mariners

July 10, 2024


The Marine Exchange of Puget Sound with the U.S. Coast Guard Release Comprehensive Cetacean Guide for Mariners


SEATTLE, July 10, 2024 – The Marine Exchange of Puget Sound (MXPS), in collaboration with the United States Coast Guard, is pleased to announce the release of the “Puget Sound Cetacean Guide for Mariners.”

Endorsed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WSDFW), the guide provides essential information for mariners navigating the Puget Sound. It includes details on legal distance requirements, where to report sightings, protective measures to be aware of, and more.

The guide has compiled information and resources from critical organizations including the United States Coast Guard Cetacean Desk embedded within the Puget Sound Vessel Traffic Service,  the Whale Reporting Alert System/Whale Report App (WRAS) managed by Ocean Wise, data cooperative, NOAA, WSDFW, and the Port of Vancouver Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) Program.

“We hope that this guide can be a usable resource for those on the water encountering these animals and provide mariners the immediate information they need regarding the laws and conservation efforts in place for them.”, said Sara Zeman, a designer of the guide.

Physical copies of the guide will be available at maritime offices and events across the region. It can also be accessed digitally on the MXPS website ( For further information or to request copies, please contact the Marine Exchange of Puget Sound at or 206-443-3830.


The Marine Exchange of Puget Sound (MXPS) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to making the maritime transportation system safer and stronger in the region. Since 1980, MXPS has served as a vital resource for the maritime community, providing services such as vessel tracking technology, real-time data solutions, communications services, and collaborative initiatives.

Navigating the Future of PacNW Maritime

Pacific NW Maritime industry

In case you missed it, the Marine Exchange had a fantastic turnout for a software demo.

If you’re rolling your eyes right now (oh boy, more software), I’ll start by acknowledging that software may be eating the world, but this was much more valuable as a gathering to talk about what drives us and what problems we need to solve. It was the most candid conversation I’ve witnessed since starting with the Marine Exchange almost three years ago. Because of this, I am grateful, energized, and genuinely inspired. I want to extend a heartful thank you to everyone who gathered in our conference room and later on our rooftop. For everyone who followed up with me, I want to tell you that your message is loud and clear.

It does not serve us to shield the fact that the maritime industry in Washington state is struggling. The ship count is down, cargo loads have not recovered like nearly every other port in the US, and we’ve been experiencing a long slide downward for thirty years as we’ve voluntarily donned the yoke of fearful bureaucracy, stagnation, and under-investment. The Northwest Seaport Alliance is trailing with a negative 27% growth rate since 2006, measuring year-on-year container volume growth. Some lines of business are doing fine (cruise, RO/RO), but I look at the aggregate activity, and it’s clear that we’re in decline and lacking deep, sustaining investment.

Northwest Seaport Alliance growth chart
Source: Pacific Merchant Shipping Association. My goal is to help invert this graph.

The question is, what do we do about it? I think we start by acknowledging that we have entered silos that tend to ossify slowly amidst retraction almost without notice. There are systemic problems here that I believe are untangled only with collaboration and trust – so easy, right? Imagine going to work on Monday and having someone tell you our new strategy is collaboration and trust when what you really need is a bunch of trucks. Inverting this graph is a decision made by people energized by a mission. I believe in this.

No software can solve this unless the people involved are committed to sharing ideas and information vital to telling the whole story. What bothers me is that I genuinely believe that we’re best at this. I say this because I’ve been stationed in many places and seen many ports operate around the country, so I approach this as a relatively objective outsider.

Follow-up question: Do we want to do anything about it? If Harbor Island becomes a theme park in the next 20 years, we’ll have our answer. However, it’s a valid question.

Our geography should be a significant selling point, as should our access to innovation, abundant clean energy, and incredible safety record. We know how to do this right, yet the narrative seems to be that we need more regulation, restrictions, and oversight by people who lack a basic understanding of what it takes to bring a ship across an ocean and into port. I have been shocked by the power and influence of industry consultants and overseers who couldn’t tell me the difference between a dead cat and a dead reckoning.

Author, exuding maritime dominance.

I am desperate for us to be heard. We have a world-class story, and I don’t think it’s getting out comprehensively. The truth is that PacNW Maritime is the jewel of the industry. That may sound corny, but I believe it. It’s hard to watch it struggle when it could be such a potent driver of the future and provide so much for so many people, including jobs with purpose and dignity, while we fulfill the most pressing needs of our civilization.

I could continue, but I will stop as I risk waxing overly saccharine. Please know that the Marine Exchange is intimately connected to the success of this industry in a way that I don’t believe any other organization is. We’re not a national association – we live and die with WA Maritime. We’re not eyeing global moonshot schemes – we’re looking to our backyard for opportunity and incremental improvement. We’re not disruptors looking to pick through bones – we’re committed to growing the corpus for future generations. Our core is to make all of Washington state a maritime leader in the United States, believing that if we become more competitive, the entire world will benefit.

Here’s what I’m reading:

  1. Maritime Administration Strategic Plan 2022-2026. MARAD has an undeniably massive responsibility in the future of US Maritime. I hope that their modest near-term vision is fully supported.
  2. PMSA West Coast Trade Report, April 2024.The numbers don’t lie. Jordan Royer’s opinion piece in April’s Trade Report partially inspired this blog post.
  3. The Algebra of Wealth. Professor Scott Galloway’s new bestseller is accessible and personal but doesn’t shy away from more complex macroeconomic concepts that contextualize capitalism for a mass audience. Although it is intended for young people, my kids at home just rolled their eyes when they saw me reading it.

Here’s what I’m interested in right now:

  1. I’m figuring out how this differs from chatgpt and which Artificial Intelligence overlord I will eventually serve.
  2. Franklin on Apple TV. I watched the first episode using someone else’s login, which I’m sure Apple already knows. I like this trend of dramatic history — especially as Benjamin Franklin’s plight is essentially for maritime dominance.
  3. Midst Podcast. This podcast is a captivating space western (yes, that’s a thing) that hooked me almost immediately. I’m listening to the final season with my daughter and trying not to ruin it by pointing out how important reliable supply lines are within this intriguing science fiction realm.

Here’s what I’m doing:

  1. Planting tomatoes. Do I need more evidence that the PacNW sucks for growing tomatoes? We shall see. Also, the USDA zone map changed… thanks, climate change.
  2. Shopping for a mid-life crisis car. I’ve got it down to a Mercedes SL55 AMG or any affordable Porsche (yeah, right). I was initially gunning for a 1964 Ford Galaxie 500XL like I drove when I was 30, but is that too overtly midlife?
image credit: pinterest

I’m wishing you the very best and safest May ever.

— Patrick Gallagher

Races, Alliances, and Clubs

Emergency Response Towing Vessel

I write these blog posts by opening my calendar and looking at what I’ve been doing since the last time I wrote. This is so great for me in that I get an opportunity to reflect on how cool this job really is. I spend my time with amazing people who are doing unbelievable things that most people never get to see, so I share the ultimate behind-the-scenes look at maritime in Puget Sound.

Here’s what I’ve been up to:

  1. Race to Alaska. The R2AK planning starts as the race finishes up from last year. We’ve been a sponsor the past 2 years in an attempt to open the aperture into a completely different application of our shared waterway, and it’s been a beautiful relationship between the Marine Exchange and the NW Maritime Center’s Race to Alaska. I don’t know how we’d do it exactly, but my secret hope is to be the official race tracker someday.
  2. Cetacean Desk. Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock (sounds cool), you’ve likely heard that the Coast Guard has formally launched its Cetacean Desk within Sector Puget Sound. What you may not recognize amidst the applause and high fiving is that this remains an unfunded mandate for the Coast Guard which makes their accomplishments even more impressive to me. If you ever need blood drawn from a stone, don a lifejacket then call the Coast Guard.
  3. Harbor Safety, Chicago style. I’ve been on this year’s National Harbor Safety Committee Conference for several months, and this one is going to be good. I’m on a lot of committees these days, and I hesitated to join another. But, I am very glad that I did. The planning and participation level is so impressive that I’ve been considering volunteering to host the next national convention here in Seattle. Thoughts? Volunteers?
  4. Beam Reach, Acartia Data Cooperative. Scott Veirs from Beam Reach is brilliant. He shared his time with us at the Marine Exchange educating us about his work, the organizations he serves, and his ideas for the future. Every time I schedule an hour with Scott, it turns into 2 and a half. We’re grateful to all the data contributors at and continue to develop software to contribute to the cooperative.
  5. Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA); Pacific Merchant Shipping Association (PMSA): I had two great meetings in one day with two strong organizations locally, but both were centered around the same topic but completely different angles. The short version is that everyone is aligned with making Puget Sound ports more competitive and attractive for port visits. We spent time looking at data sets and how we count arrivals, departures, and shifts. At the NWSA, I got an opportunity to tour their operations and the terminals. Wow, what a dance. These are impressive people who are constantly resolving issues that swirl around any port visit. Incredible day.
  6. Seattle Propeller Club: SPC hosted their first “deep dive,” and although I couldn’t attend, I heard it was a big success. This event’s deep dive was centered around the issue of alternative fuels…. and cocktails.
  7. Marine Exchange of San Francisco: My good friend, Scott Humphrey, from the Marine Exchange of San Francisco met with me while he was visiting Panama. We got an hour to catch up, and I got to hear about the bidding system to get ships through the Panama Canal. Unbelievable! We also talked about whale tracking, Harbor Safety Committees, and NOAA’s Physical Oceanographic Real-Time System (PORTS). Did you know there are two PORTS sensors in Puget Sound? Both are in Tacoma.
  8. Merchant’s Exchange: My new friend and southern neighbor in Portland, Curtis Cannizzaro, graciously shared an hour with me to talk about Marine Firefighting and specifically the future of the Puget Sound Marine Firefighting Commission. In Portland they have the Fire Protection Agencies Advisory Council within the Maritime Fire & Safety Association which have similar missions but are structured very differently. Curtis shared a lot of information with me including the news that the Merchant’s Exchange just signed a Continuity of Operations Memorandum of Understanding with the Coast Guard. Very cool.

Okay, that’s enough. It’s been a tremendous couple of weeks and judging by my calendar, the next 2 are going to blow my mind. Thanks for reading!


Patrick Gallagher, Executive Director
Marine Exchange of Puget Sound