Waters off B.C. coast awash in plastic particles. Vancouver Sun

If it’s there, it’s here. Could this issue have links to other problems we are seeing in the marine environment? Very likely. This could be a great project for some researchers here as well. The PT Marine Science Center did surveys of the beaches a few years ago and also found extensive plastic pollution almost everywhere they looked.

Water samples from off the B.C. coast have found up to about 9,200 particles of plastic per cubic metre, the director of a new ocean pollution program at the Vancouver Aquarium said Tuesday. Based on 34 water samples taken between inshore waters and 1,200 kilometres due west of Victoria, the concentrations of microplastics — pieces typically the size of a coffee ground — were found to increase in proximity to the mainland coast. Microplastics can be ingested by plankton, invertebrates and other marine life forming the base of the food chain; ingestion of plastics may make organisms think they are full, causing them to starve. “There is extensive contamination of sea water by microplastics,” confirmed Peter Ross, a former research scientist with the federal Institute of Ocean Sciences in Sidney on Vancouver Island. “It raises the questions: where are they coming from and do they pose a threat to the food web? This will remain a priority for the aquarium.” Larry Pynn reports.

http://www.vancouversun.com/technology/Waters+coast+awash+plastic+particles+says+head+Vancouver/9520815/story.html

2013 NW Straits Conference Overview

Just got back from a great two days at the NW Straits conference, held in Bellingham. The good folks that steer our Marine Resource Committees always put together a  conference worth attending, and the only unfortunate thing is that they can’t invite the world at large.

Pictured below, Caroline Gibson and Sasha Horst from the NW Straits Commission greet attendees, while Jefferson County Commissioner and ex-fisherman, Phil Johnson discusses net pens.

2013 NW Straits Collage

This year, Washington State Senator Kevin Ranker and Dr. Terrie Klinger started off by giving an update to the state of the science and legislative activity around  Ocean Acidification.  Washington State is at the forefront of global science on this emerging issue, and the Governor has taken the step to create a commission to look into it and get some actions going on this.

Funding for research and data collection is underway, and we were told that funding for educational activities is not,and pressure needs to be exerted to get this to the schools as new curriculum.

Hugh Shipman of the Washington State Department of Ecology spoke on Sea Level Rise in the Puget Sound basin, and Tina Whitman of Friends of the San Juans along with Andrea MacLennon of the Coastal Geographic Services brought people up to speed on how the scientists and policy makers are measuring and planning for sea level rise in San Juan County.

Kathleen Herrmann of the Snohomish County MRC gave a very interesting talk on a new method for gaining public acceptance of MRC goals, using Collective Impact, which is a model framework applied here for marine conservation. Kathleen has done a great job of researching this and applying it to their issues.

Will Stelle, who is the west coast regional administrator for NOAA Fisheries, closed out day one, with a really entertaining overview of the issues facing the west coast. I would have to say that this overview should be mandatory for all of us trying to get a good overview of the state of affairs right now. It’s a huge span of work. Will presents it with humor and passion.

Conservation biologist Thor Hanson was the after dinner speaker, giving an overview on his new book, Feathers. Thor’s enthusiasm for his work is quite funny and, yes, I bought the book.

On day two: there was tracks on Tools for Promoting Ocean Acidification (O.A.) Literacy, and in another room, an overview of Nearshore Habitat Restoration: From Idea to Reality, Advice from Local Experts. In the O.A.literacy program, Alexis Valauri-Orton, the Thomas J. Watson Fellow presented a really interesting look at her recent research work in talking to various cultures around the world being affected by O.A. Paul Williams of the Suquamish Tribe updated us on their efforts to teach the issue, and Meg Chadsey of Washington Sea Grant also presented.

After lunch, in addition to an overview of evaluating metrics and outreach projects, Dan Tonnes and Helen Berry gave great insight into Rockfish recovery efforts and Kelp monitoring and management in Puget Sound.

Will Stelle – NOAA West Coast Fisheries Administrator on Fisheries and Furloughs – 45 minutes long. Download the audio file and listen.  http://sdrv.ms/17Z2Kzi

All these presentations will be put up in both audio and video formats for download within the next week.  Check back for the links to them. 

Survey of Pacific Gyre shows ocean garbage ours, not Tsunami – CBC

An environmental group has returned from another trip into the debris field in the North Pacific, where it found that home-grown garbage — not tsunami wreckage — is forming the bulk of the floating mess.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2012/08/08/bc-ocean-garbage-survey.html

PT ponders plastic bag ban -PDN

A proposed ban on plastic bags will be submitted to the Port Townsend City Council for discussion and possible approval in June. The potential ban — based on one approved by the city of Bainbridge Island in April — was discussed at a meeting of the city’s Special Projects Committee on Wednesday. The bags that would be subject to the ban are plastic bags with handles that are given out by retailers at the cash register. Plastic-bag ban proposal to go to Port Townsend council

http://peninsuladailynews.com/article/20120511/NEWS/305119982/plastic-bag-ban-proposal-to-go-to-port-townsend-council

PT Marine Science Center Brown Bag – Tuesday Noon to 1

Volunteer Brown Bag LunchTuesday, June 29, noon to about 1pm, Marine Exhibit classroom.  Our volunteer brown bag lunches are like ‘continuing ed’ and ‘party’ wrapped into one.  Jen Kingfisher will give an update on the plastics projects, and volunteer Rachel Gaspers will talk about the flotsam exhibit on the dock.  There will be time for questions, general volunteer announcements, and socializing.  Bring your lunch, (microwave is available) we’ll provide drinks and cookies. RSVP requested but not required.

Plastics Summit Draws a Crowd

From the NW Straits Commission June Newsletter:
A dynamic group of over 70 field volunteers gathered at Fort Worden in May for the Citizen Science Summit on Plastic Pollution in the Salish Sea, hosted by the Port Townsend Marine Science Center and co-sponsored by the Northwest Straits Commission. Since 2008, these and other committed citizen scientists around the region have sampled beach sediments at 15 sites to study tiny fragments of plastic (known as microplastics) in the sand. Early results of the Center’s project provide shocking numbers: an estimated six metric tons of microplastics, plus 3.4 tons of glass, cigarette butts and other debris, have washed up on Puget Sound beaches. Dr. Joel Baker, an expert on chemical pollutants at the University of Washington/Tacoma, served as the event’s keynote speaker. For more information on the summit and the microplastics project, contact Jen Kingfisher at jkingfisher@ptmsc.org.

Group attended the Marine Science Summit on Plastic in the Salish Sea

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