Sterilise farm salmon, say experts – The Scotsman

While this is not directly related to around here, it does have some interesting scientific findings that are relevant to our own battles against net pens. Read the whole article. It’s quite worth it. Wonder if it’s totally a one to one fit with our fish farming industry?

FARMED salmon should be sterilised to prevent them breeding with wild fish and introducing genetic weaknesses that will hamper their survival, experts have urged.

New research shows that while salmon reared in captivity to be eaten are genetically distinct from their wild relatives, they are just as fertile and pose a potential danger to naturally occurring populations if they escape and breed with them. Millions of salmon escape from fish farms each year and can find their way into wild spawning groups, where they can reproduce and introduce undesirable traits.

Read the rest of the story at

http://www.scotsman.com/news/environment/sterilise-farm-salmon-say-experts-1-3334304

 

Canada- DFO ‘fudging the numbers,’ court finds; bars commercial fishery off Vancouver Island – Globe & Mail

If you were thinking of getting your fishing boat together to get up and take part in the herring fisheries off Vancouver Island, think again. The Canadian Federal Government continues it’s amazing lack of even rudimentary fact finding on whether to allow commercial fishing. It looks like the First Nations and the courts are standing up to these people. None too soon. Is the tide finally starting to turn?  Allowing Canada to wipe out their herring stocks does not help our fishing fleets either. As we all know, salmon live on the herring and we catch their fish, just like they catch ours.

An unprecedented court injunction has barred the Department of Fisheries and Oceans from opening a commercial fishery off Vancouver Island after a judge concluded DFO was “fudging the numbers” and that the federal minister declared it open against her own bureaucrats’ advice. The Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations, whose herring-roe fishery has been closed since 2006, went to court last month seeking the injunction. The ruling has prompted the Haida First Nation to threaten similar court action. And the central coast First Nations say they’ll do whatever it takes to protect their fisheries. The First Nations say the fisheries should not be opened because they have not recovered enough to allow harvesting safely. In the Nuu-chah-nulth case, court documents showed that DFO experts agreed that all three areas should remain closed, but federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea chose to open the fisheries anyway. Zoe Tennant reports. (Globe and Mail)

 http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/dfo-fudging-the-numbers-court-finds-bars-commercial-fishery-off-vancouver-island/article17391117/

Cantwell Calls for NOAA Study on Ocean Acidification’s Effects on Seafood and Fishing

In Senate hearing Cantwell also backs ‘robust funding’ in Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization for fish stock assessments

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) called for new federal action to examine ocean acidification’s potential threat to seafood and the commercial fishing during a hearing on the law that guides management of American commercial fisheries.

During testimony at the Senate hearing on the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act Reauthorization, the Alaska Regional Administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service told Cantwell that ocean acidification is a “cause for concern.”

Cantwell highlighted the need for a study that identifies which fisheries and fish habitats are most at risk from the effects of ocean acidification –as an expansion of a Puget Sound monitoring system for shellfish that she was instrumental in establishing in 2010.  She cited previous research that showed adverse effects on Alaska’s red king crab fisheries.

Such research also would be critical to understanding potential impacts to Washington state’s $30 billion maritime industry.  The sector supports 57,000 direct jobs and 90,000 indirect jobs, 60 percent of which are in the fishing industry.

“We want to make sure we understand the risks to our fisheries. We have some real life situations that are occurring,” Cantwell said today during the hearing of the Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard. “On this issue, I think we definitely need a study to understand the impacts.”

 Read the rest of the story here:

http://www.cantwell.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/press-releases?ID=c0bd9f45-b98f-4932-adc4-ff928c337c2e

Tribes challenge PUD tidal turbine proposal – South Whidbey Record

We’ll have to keep an eye on this and see what it means to this project. The hearing started yesterday.

The Island County hearing examiner will listen for two days to arguments regarding permits for a proposed tidal turbine pilot project in waters off Whidbey Island. The Tulalip Tribes and the PC Landing Corp. are appealing permits issued by Island County for the temporary installation of two tidal energy generators in Admiralty Inlet and related onshore equipment structures. The project is proposed by Snohomish Public Utility District. The hearing starts Thursday, March 6. Jessie Stensland reports. (South Whidbey Record)

Read the rest of the  story at:

http://www.southwhidbeyrecord.com/news/248634141.html

Video on mysterious epidemic devastating starfish population off the Pacific Coast – KCTS & Earthfix

Short video on that covers the issues of the disease that is destroying a key predator in the marine habitat. If you have kids, this is a good quick overview. Lots of underwater shots.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/mysterious-epidemic-devastates-starfish-population-pacific-coast/

Alexandra Morton Web Site now up and running

Alexandra Morton, Canada’s leading activist and researcher into the effects of Atlantic Net Pen aquaculture on the environment, has finally created her own web site. It’s listed to the left, and also here.

http://www.alexandramorton.ca/

In addition, the web site of the Salmon Alert (found here http://salmonalert.org/) is the clearing house for all scientific literature on research into the effects of farmed salmon.

And is there an alternative to in-water (in the same waters as our wild salmon)? Yes.

http://salmonalert.org/ally-organizations/closed-containment/

Study: Olympic National Park tourism brings in benefit to tune of $220 million – PDN

Another reminder that while many of us think that forestry is our largest industry, protecting those forests for tourism, is also a good return on our money. Read the whole story at the Peninsula Daily News.

The National Park Service says more than 2.8 million visitors to Olympic National Park in 2012 spent $220 million in the park’s surrounding communities.

http://peninsuladailynews.com/article/20140304/NEWS/303049981/study-olympic-national-park-tourism-brings-in-benefit-to-tune-of

Wave Energy Developer Pulls Plug On Oregon Project – Earthfix

Developers have scrapped their plans to build the nation’s first large-scale wave energy project off the Oregon Coast, saying the costs were too high to make it work. The much-anticipated project would have placed a flotilla of 100 energy-producing buoys, each the size of a school bus, in the waves off the coast of Reedsport, Ore. The project’s developer, Ocean Power Technologies, surrendered its preliminary permit with the federal government, Oregon regulators disclosed Monday. Devan Schwartz reports. (EarthFix)

http://earthfix.kcts9.org/energy/article/wave-energy-developer-pulls-plug-on-oregon-project/

Is the Hood Canal Floating Bridge Causing The Problems in Hood Canal?

In 2010 I worked on a video for the Puget Sound Partnership called, “Voices of the Strait”. In that video I interviewed old timers from all over the Peninsula, and asked them about their experiences and changes in the environment. Off camera, I happened to meet one old fisherman, a man who had fished here for his whole life, and was in his 80s. We got to talking over coffee about the Hood Canal problems, and he had an interesting thing to tell me.

“It’s my opinion,” he said, “that ever since the Hood Canal Floating Bridge went in, we have seen a collapse of fish stocks and water quality down there. None of this ever seemed to be a problem before that. I bet the bridge is the cause of it all.”

I remember that conversation clearly, but didn’t ask him to be on camera, because it was, as we say, more of a hypothesis than a proof. You could insert many other hypothesis’ and be just as likely to be right, given a lack of data.

Now, it appears the old timer may have been correct in his observations. At a meeting of restoration recovery organizations held in Port Townsend, Scott Brewer, the head of the Hood Canal Coordinating Council, stood up and validated what the old timer had said. Brewer said that preliminary research  has shown, especially with steelhead, that the bridge might be stopping the fish from moving out to sea. Radio tagged fry have been seen swimming up to the bridge and are unable to figure out how to get around it. They appear to pool against the bridge, which is 30 feet deep, and get picked off by seals or sea lions.  The fry tend to stay on the surface layer of the water, so are stymied by the blockage. Additionally, the bridge may be affecting tidal water exchange.

This poses an interesting problem. Obviously, if accurate, short term fixes might look something like fish ladders or perhaps some kind of underwater fence that could direct the fish towards one end or the other. But longer term, if the bridge is the problem, the question of replacing the bridge will have to be raised. The health of an entire ecosystem might be at stake.

While all this is preliminary and speculative, we’ll keep an eye on this issue and report back as we get more data. But it’s worth remembering that most of the major and minor fundamental scientific advancements, up to the 20th century, were usually amateur local scientists, relying on observation, and hypothesis based on that knowledge of local systems from living there. It’s well worth keeping an open mind to even the oddest possible root causes. The notion that we can throw down a bridge and  have it not affect the body of water it lies on is  something that most bridge planners probably never anticipated. And the findings also point out that the revolution in miniaturization of computer and GPS tracking, will have profound effects on our ability to better understand natural processes.

10 million scallops are dead; Qualicum company lays off staff – Parksville Qualicum Beach News

This in from just over the border. What I understand about scallops is that they are the hardest shellfish to grow, and recent attempts to re-establish them in US Puget Sound waters have been unsuccessful (to commercially viable sizes). Maybe this is why.

High acid levels in the waters around Parksville Qualicum Beach have killed 10 million scallops and forced a local shellfish producer to scale operations back considerably.

Island Scallops CEO Rob Saunders said the company has lost three years worth of scallops and $10 million.

“I’m not sure we are going to stay alive and I’m not sure the oyster industry is going to stay alive,” Saunders told The NEWS. “It’s that dramatic.”

Small sewage leak closes Port Townsend’s North Beach – PDN

A “no contact” advisory is in effect for the waters off North Beach Park in Port Townsend, where city officials reported an intermittent leak of treated sewage Monday. Jefferson County Public Health issued the health advisory for all of North Beach, with warning signs at the county park. The public is advised to avoid surfing, swimming, boating, fishing and the harvesting of shellfish and seaweed at North Beach. Shellfishing always is closed in the area because of the proximity of the sewage plant outfall. (Peninsula Daily News)

http://peninsuladailynews.com/article/20140225/NEWS/302259980/small-sewage-leak-closes-port-townsends-north-beach

UPDATE: This has been repaired and is no longer a threat, though the beach there is always closed to shellfish harvest because the outfall is out there. 3/7/2014.

Judge overrules minister’s decision to open herring fishery – Vancouver Sun

B.C.’s First Nations declare victory over Department of Fisheries in fight to conserve fish.

B.C. First Nations won a major victory Friday when a Federal Court judge granted an injunction blocking the opening this year of a herring fishery on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

The decision came after an internal memo revealed Fisheries Minister Gail Shea overruled recommendations of scientists in her own department.

Read the whole story at the Vancouver Sun

http://www.vancouversun.com/technology/Judge+overrules+minister+decision+open+herring+fishery/9541803/story.html

Jefferson County shoreline program gains state approval

February 12th. So it’s finally done. No thanks to The Department of Ecology for stonewalling our County  on banning net pens in our county for years, on behalf of the net pen industry. It has been an incredibly divisive effort, that has called into question  Ecology’s mission and their allegiances. Their intransigence in being unwilling to look at the issues and concerns of citizens and their representatives who have legitimate questions about the net pen industry seemed to be entirely self serving of that industry, instead of supporting those who are spending hundreds of millions of tax dollars trying to recover wild fish. While just to the north of us in British Columbia, the scientific evidence continues to mount that net pens are very likely to be contributing to the decline in those stocks.

Much thanks to County Commissioner Phil Johnson who fought for the ban tooth and nail for many years, along with David Sullivan and John Austin, to Michelle McConnell for sheparding this through, the two volunteer groups that spent years going over the existing Program and updating it, and for the Planning Commission all of whom took time to deliberate whether what was done was acceptable. It was a Herculian task. Also thanks to the Jefferson County Democrats, who have fought hard at the State level to promote banning net pens in our waters.

Ecology webpage about our SMP Update (with related documents)

The new SMP (full document, non-codified version; 40 MB)
http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/sea/shorelines/smp/mycomments/jefferson.html

Press release announcement

OLYMPIA — The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) has approved Jefferson County’s updated shoreline master program.
The county’s shoreline program will result in significant improvements in the water quality, protection, use, development and restoration of about 250 miles of marine shorelines including Hood Canal and the Strait of Juan de Fuca; roughly 600 miles of river shorelines, including portions of the Quinault, Hoh, Elwha and Dungeness rivers; as well as along the shores of numerous lakes and streams.

Jefferson County is one of nearly 90 local governments that have completed shoreline program updates. The new master program combines local plans for future shoreline development and preservation with new shoreline development ordinances and related permitting requirements.

Before they can take effect, each locally-tailored city and county shoreline master program must be approved by Ecology to affirm compliance with the state’s 1972 voter-approved Shoreline Management Act (SMA) and the most current shoreline master program regulations.

About 150 cities and counties statewide are in the process of, or soon will be, updating or crafting their master programs.

“We are pleased with how the new shoreline program addresses net pens and establishes local controls that include a conditional use permitting process,” said Sally Toteff, Ecology Southwest and Olympic Region director.

The conditional use permit process allows the county to evaluate proposals based on site-specific concerns, and to require mitigation or use other measures to offset impacts. Any permit application would also trigger an environmental review under the State Environmental Policy Act.

Shoreline master programs are the cornerstone of the SMA. The law requires cities and counties with regulated shorelines to develop and periodically update their locally tailored programs to help minimize environmental damage to shoreline areas, reserve appropriate areas for water-oriented uses, and protect the public’s right to public lands and waters.

“It’s very impressive how Jefferson County brought diverse local interests to the table to work collaboratively through tough issues,” Toteff said.

Jefferson County conducted extensive public outreach and facilitated technical and policy advisory committees. The committees included shoreline property owners and experts from various disciplines and agencies.

The county’s shoreline master program:

  • Provides shoreline regulations that are integrated with the Jefferson County growth management planning and zoning, floodplain management and critical areas ordinances as part of a unified development code.
  • Limits new stair towers in landslide hazard and feeder bluff areas.
  • Limits the length of new residential docks and piers.
  • Encourages soft-bank erosion control methods and limits construction of new shoreline armoring such as bulkheads.
  • Includes a restoration plan showing where and how voluntary improvements in water and upland areas can enhance the local shoreline environment.
  • Helps support the broader initiative to protect and restore Puget Sound.
  • Once approved by Ecology, the local shoreline plan becomes part of the state shoreline master program. If needed, the department will help defend Jefferson County’s shoreline program against legal challenges.
  • All of Washington’s cities and counties with regulated shorelines are updating their programs to meet a December 2014 deadline. They are following regulations adopted in 2003 that resulted from a negotiated settlement among 58 different parties including business interests, ports, environmental groups, shoreline user groups, cities and counties, Ecology and the courts.

# # #

Media Contacts:

Linda Kent, 360-791-9830, linda.kent@ecy.wa.gov; @ecySW

Navy Looks To Renew Permits For Bombing And Sonar Exercises In The Northwest – Earthfix

The Navy is pursuing permits to continue conducting sonar and explosives exercises in a large area of the Pacific Ocean — and that’s putting marine mammal advocates on high alert. Public hearings kick off next week as the Navy gathers public comments on its draft environmental impact statement for the Northwest training and testing range. The range stretches from northern California to the Canadian border. Ashley Ahearn reports.

http://earthfix.kcts9.org/flora-and-fauna/article/navy-looks-to-renew-permits-for-bombing-and-sonar-/

Battery small enough to be injected, energetic enough to track salmon – Science Daily

Scientists have created a microbattery that packs twice the energy compared to current microbatteries used to monitor the movements of salmon. The battery is just slightly larger than a long grain of rice, however is not the world’s smallest battery. Engineers have created batteries far tinier than the width of a human hair, but those smaller batteries don’t hold enough energy to power acoustic fish tags. The new battery is small enough to be injected into an organism and holds much more energy than similar-sized batteries.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140218143330.htm

Boaters Beware: State Wants to Ban Sewage Dumping in Puget Sound – Earthfix

UPDATED: This proposal would not ban grey water discharge.

It is currently illegal to dump untreated sewage overboard in Puget Sound. When I last chartered, it was made clear to me that I had to pump out, not macerate. Now the State Department of Ecology wants to ban *all* treated sewage coming off recreational and commercial vessels in the Sound.

Proposed No Dump Zone for boaters.

No dump zone

————————————–

It might surprise you to learn that you can dump the contents of your toilet into Puget Sound and not get in trouble. That’s essentially what some boaters do when they discharge their sewage into the water instead of pumping it out at a dock or marina.

The state Department of Ecology has proposed a federally-enforced ban on dumping in Puget Sound to stop the practice.

Read or listen to the rest of the story at:

http://kplu.org/post/boaters-beware-state-wants-ban-sewage-dumping-puget-sound

Department of Ecology backgrounder Powerpoint (from 2012? )

http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wq/wastewater/cruise_mou/NDZpresentation2_16_12.pdf

Three Sheets Northwest analysis

http://threesheetsnw.com/blog/2013/03/ban-on-sewage-discharge-in-puget-sound-under-study/

Story by Chris Dunagan in the Kitsap Sun

http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2014/feb/19/tugboat-operators-oppose-no-discharge-zone-in/#axzz2tt4BAY1s

$3.8 million project to provide face-lift for Dungeness’ 3 Crabs estuarine area – PDN

Work to begin on the final phase of the 3Crabs area restoration work, over on the east side of the Dungeness River estuary. This has been a long time coming, and is a good piece of work to help salmon move back into the estuary area in greater numbers. Runs have been increasing in recent years, with the work already done.

DUNGENESS –– Rerouting Sequim-Dungeness Way, removing a century of shoreline armoring and expanding wetland lagoons will soon be done under a plan to restore the beach and estuary at 3 Crabs.

Read the whole story at the PDN:

http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20140218/NEWS/302189992/-38-million-project-to-provide-face-lift-for-dungeness-3-crabs

Is Fukushima Radiation Causing Pacific Starfish Die-offs?- Earthfix

Good info on a question that has been raised a lot lately.

The short answer is almost definitely no. Scientists do not see a connection between the massive die-offs of starfish along the Pacific shores of North America and Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Read the rest of the story here:

http://www.earthfix.info/flora-and-fauna/article/is-fukushima-radiation-causing-of-pacific-starfish/?utm_source=EarthFix+Weekly&utm_campaign=aa77699d69-EarthFix_Weekly_Feb_19_2014002_19_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_693d42e2f5-aa77699d69-46872029

Lawsuits Could Lead To Changes At Fish Hatcheries – KPLU.org

Looks like it’s time to re-evaluate the value of hatcheries.

People on the West Coast have counted on fish hatcheries for more than a century to help rebuild populations of salmon and steelhead and bring them to a level where government would no longer need to regulate fisheries. But hatcheries have thus far failed to resurrect wild fish runs and artificially bred fish have come to dominate rivers. Critics say their influx harms wild salmon and masks the fact that wild populations are barely hanging on. Now, hatcheries are facing court challenges in Oregon, California and Washington state — though state and federal officials say they are already working to address the problems they cause.

http://kplu.org/post/lawsuits-could-lead-changes-fish-hatcheries

Oil-train safety emerges as hot environmental issue in Olympia – Seattle Times

Having just returned from a trip on Amtrak to Montana, I can tell you this is a big deal there too. Why? My 9 PM return train arrived at 1:30 AM, and the evening before it arrived at 7:30 AM the next day. All because of oil and coal train traffic, which is prioritized over Amtrak by Burlington Northern. An watching the seemingly endless oil tankers roll by knowing that a derailment could cause a catastrophic explosion like in Quebec, didn’t help. Why does this matter to us? Because we have rail lines running right along Puget Sound, there are six more refinery plans on the books for the near future, and the oil industry is lobbying hard to allow them to ship the excess to China, right through the Strait. This would mean hundreds of more tankers a year.

The fight over coal trains, billed as the Pacific Northwest’s biggest environment debate in decades, is so 2013. The new hot topic is oil transportation. Fueled by statistics showing that more oil spilled in the United States last year than in the 37 previous years combined — along with recent oil-train explosions — state lawmakers from both parties and chambers are pushing for quick action…. But Republicans and Democrats support differing proposals for how to do so, setting up a potential collision in the divided Legislature. Brian M. Rosenthal reports. See also: House passes bill aimed at oil train safety http://www.goskagit.com/news/state/house-passes-bill-aimed-at-oil-train-safety/article_b98631e6-0fa5-500c-a878-7ad0567160c1.html See also: Oil train safety: Political wreck ahead? http://crosscut.com/2014/02/19/under-the-dome/118808/oil-train-safety-energy-transportation-legislature/

http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2022939321_oilbillsxml.html

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