As dams fall, rapid changes on Elwha River – Houston Chronicle

Good short article about changes on the Elwha.

Fishing boats become salmon labs in Puget Sound – KING 5

More than 40 scientists in U.S. and Canadian waters are catching batches of young salmon to find out why they can be so healthy in the rivers but begin to die off in Puget Sound. Studies show some species die at a rate of 80 percent from the time they leave their native river and get through the Sound to The Pacific Ocean. There are similar concerns all the way through the northern Strait of Georgia, which, when combined with Puget Sound, forms the Salish Sea. Gary Chittim reports. (KING)

Study: Hatcheries Can Disrupt Steelhead Navigation – Earthfix/AP

Hmmm. more bad news on hatchery fish. Obviously more work needs to be done to validate these findings.

A new study suggests steelhead trout can have trouble using the Earth’s magnetic field to navigate if they were raised in a hatchery, where the field may be distorted by iron pipes. Scientists at the Oregon Hatchery Research Center raised two sets of fish: one outside the hatchery with a natural magnetic field, and one inside the hatchery where the field was distorted. Fish raised outside the hatchery oriented themselves to changes in the magnetic field, but fish raised in the hatchery’s distorted magnetic field did not. (Associated Press)

New Quotas Clear Way For Banner Summer Salmon Fishing In Pacific Ocean – KPLU.ORG

Good news for sports fishermen this year.

A federal fisheries management panel approved what some charter captains are calling the best ocean fishing season in 20 years. Meeting at a hotel in Vancouver, Washington, the Pacific Fishery Management Council on Wednesday adopted the 2014 season quotas unanimously after days of lengthy negotiations between commercial troll and recreational fishing representatives, treaty tribes and government regulators. The quotas are a big turnaround from the recent past when ocean salmon fishing was sharply curtailed or not allowed at all. Tom Banse reports. (KPLU)

Ocean salmon quota options reflect strong runs – Tacoma News Tribune

Good news at least from the forecast for these fish.

Under options approved this week, recreation anglers fishing off the Washington coast this year could see a higher catch quota for chinook salmon and certainly higher coho quotas. The three alternatives for ocean fishing, approved late Thursday by the Pacific Fishery Management Council, are in response to projections of a higher abundance of hatchery chinook and a significant increase in the number of coho bound for the Columbia River. The council establishes fishing seasons in ocean waters three to 200 miles off the Pacific coast. Chinook options range from 47,500 to 60,000 fish, while the coho options range from 159,600 to 193,200 fish. Jeffery Mayor reports. (Tacoma News Tribune)

Read the whole story at:

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


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.

Lawsuits Could Lead To Changes At Fish Hatcheries –

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.

Representative Van De Wege signs onto bill to ban & label GMO Salmon

Republican State Representative Condotta (R) co-sponsored  by Representative Van de Wege, have put forward bill HB 2143,  to ban genetically modified salmon in the State. This would ban net pen operations in state waters from farming any genetically modified salmon. It does not ban raising them in upland closed container sites. Additionally it calls for identification of farmed GMO fish vs. commercially caught salmon. Background on this is that Washington was the first state in the country, in 1993,  to make it a law to label salmon as wild or farmed. It was heavily opposed by the same industry coalition back then. But it passed. We led the way in salmon labeling, and the arguments are again being made that labeling and banning of these fish should be a Federal issue, not a State issue. They also say it will cause consumer confusion. I  personally don’t know many consumers who are confused as to wild vs. farmed salmon labels. In fact, it seems to have spurred purchase of wild salmon, as consumers know that they are getting what they want, as opposed to not knowing if it is or isn’t. That confusion is more likely to lead to other choices of protein.

The reasons for this bill that have been put forward is to codify the rules on avoiding cross contamination on GMO salmon and to add a simple label on GMO fish when they are sold in Washington State stores.

At the January 17th Public Hearing, testimony was hot and heavy. Industry spokespeople were out in force to attempt to stop the bill. Also citizen activists testified in favor of it. Industry is attempting to muddy the waters by claiming that this will ban research and development of genetic fish, some of which could be hampering work on human disease development. To be clear, the bill does not ban that research. It bans farming GMO salmon in State Waters. That is defined as navigable waters in the state. The Sound, Strait, Outer Coasts and freshwater rivers and streams are usually what is meant by that term. 

Some of the testimony (pardon me if the names are spelled wrong, they were not always clearly identifiable):

A panel opposed to the bill showed up to testify:

Alan Cook of Icicle Seafoods. They opposed  the bill claiming that GMO salmon are already banned in State waters.

John Dentler Director of Troutlodge. They are the oldest company in aquaculture in America. They  grow Sable Fish (Black Cod) and Shellfish. He claimed they have no plans on rearing GMO salmon and trout.  They want to  carve out an exemption  specifically for triploid (sterile) fish in the bill. Labeling aspect is troubling to them. If we specifically label to this State, they are faced with labeling requirements. National and State environmental policy acts handle these issues, he said.

John Bialka Pacific Aquaculture on the Columbia. They produce triploid trout for restaurant business. Not interested in raising GMO salmon. Opposed the bill.

Also in opposition to the bill.

  • Dan Swecker ex-salmon farmer and ED Washington Salmon Growers Assoc.
  • JIm Jesernig ofWashington Association of Wheat Growers -
  • Tom Davis Farm Bureau
  • Heather Hansen – Friends of Farms and Forest.  “True intent is to stigmatize genetically modified food”
  • NW Grocery Association
  • James Curry NW Food Processors Assoc. – Opposed to the bill.
  • Dan Coin – Biotechnology Industry Association – Opposed.

Showing up in favor of the bill

  • The Yakima Nation
  • Doug Milholland of Port Townsend. He brought up Salmon Confidential and the work going on in British Columbia against farmed and GMO salmon.
  • Senator Marilyn Chase 32nd district (D)  testified in favor of the bill.
  • Ann Mossmiss – Ex-Alaska Fisherman. Food and Society Policy Fellow Institute of Agriculture and Trade Culture. Very concerned about the new genetically modfied  National Academy of Scientists are very skeptical and concerned on this. She was a very convincing speaker with a great deal of background on the subject.

The bill will encounter stiff opposition in the House and Senate,if it even passes out of committee. I highly recommend that any of you wanting to weigh in on this bill do so now. Send emails to Representative Kevin Van De Wege’s office.

Watch the whole testimony here:

The Bill itself:

Bill Analysis:

Jefferson County Board of County Commissioners Adopts SMP

The Board of County Commissioners took formal action to adopt the new Shoreline Master Program with supporting documents by unanimous vote this morning, December 16, 2013. Staff is preparing to forward the updated SMP to Ecology for final adoption and anticipates the new program will be in effect by mid-January 2014. Final documents will be posted online when available.

We thank all the County Commissioners for their diligent and determined work to bring a high standard to the environmental protection of our shores. Many dozens of people have worked for over 8 years on this project. It’s the belief of this writer that they have done the best job they could, given the contentious issues, and now to move on stronger protections of this fragile shore.

As to the issue of net pen aquaculture in Jefferson County, it is this writer’s belief that there should be a significant independent scientific study done, perhaps by the Sea Grant folks at the UW who just completed the 6 year geoduck study, to explore the effects of the net pen industry on benthic layers beneath the pens, as well as possible wider effects due to disease and sea lice.  Since DOE relies on science, and the science hasn’t been updated since the 1980’s (at best), it is time to revisit this. There is much water under the bridge on this issue since those days. As we wait for this science to be documented, there should be a moratorium on new net pens in Puget Sound and the greater Salish Sea (i.e. Hood Canal and the Strait of Juan de Fuca). All existing pens should be allowed to continue to exist (if financially viable) but no new ones should be added until we understand whether this is hurting the efforts to re-establish wild salmon or not. We are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to bring back wild fish. We have no idea of whether sea lice and disease vectors in the pens are harming salmon, rock fish and other species in serious decline.

Lawsuits Put NW Fish Hatcheries In The Crosshairs – Earthfix

A string of lawsuits around the region highlights a groundswell of opposition to the practice of raising salmon and steelhead in hatcheries to then be released into the wild. Wild fish supporters argue that hatcheries harm wild fish populations and that governmental agencies charged with protecting salmon and steelhead under the Endangered Species Act are in fact violating the Act in some instances by releasing hatchery-raised fish to intermingle with the wild ones. Ashley Ahearn reports.

Peninsula salmon projects get $4.5 million – PDN

Lots of good projects that are going to give jobs to folks here on the Peninsula, and help restore salmon habitat. The work is far from being completed, but it’s good to see these projects and land purchases get funded. Tying this together with the work described by Earth Economics over the weekend on this site, it’s worth it to note that there is value in these ecosystem renewal projects. Slowing the rivers by putting in log jams, for example, do not just provide scientifically proven habitat for salmon (especially young salmon migrating downstream), but they also aide in flood protection among other benefits. Flood plain protection is a value that lowers the cost to repairing damage from floods over multiple decades.

The state has awarded $4.5 million in grants for new salmon restoration projects on the North Olympic Peninsula. ….

Rob Ollikainen reports.

There’s quite a bit more to the story at:


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Report from the Front: Alexandra Morton’s latest video

Lots of news on the farmed salmon front lately. The  world’s leading scientist working on educating the public on this threat, Ms. Alexandra Morton of Canada, has a new video covering the several disturbing bits of news regarding salmon farming. From Canada’s taking down of the Cohen Commission’s comprehensive web site (the government spent $26M on the commission!), to a new genetically modified salmon, to the EU failing to properly protect the public from high levels of toxins in Norwegian farmed salmon, this 9 minute video is worth a short break from your day.

It’s more clear than ever that saying no to farmed salmon is the right thing to do, and that their industry looks more and more like nuclear power, a failed experiment that just won’t go away because there is too much money at stake.

Elwha River sees largest run of Chinook in decades – Skagit Valley Herald

A story to cheer up David Suzuki this morning (G).

The largest run of Chinook salmon in decades returned to the Elwha River this fall, according to officials with the Olympic National Park. Fish are streaming into stretches of the Elwha River and its tributaries that were formerly blocked by the Elwha Dam, park officials said Friday on its website. The Elwha Dam, one of two dams on the river, stood for nearly a century before it came down in 2012.

Read the whole story at

More Elwha Dam Removed – PDN

A huge piece of Glines Canyon Dam was blasted away late Saturday as dam removal on the Elwha River resumed. Explosive charges set by demolition crews removed almost the entire eastern third of the remaining 60 feet of concrete dam, webcam photos show. But water did not immediately flow through the new gap because of tons of sediment behind the dam as well as rubble from the explosion that created temporary blockage between the current river channel and the new hole. With a section of the former 210-foot dam removed nearly to the original riverbed, workers will clear a passable fish channel on the floor of the river canyon before stopping work in November for the next fish window, according to Brian Krohmer, dam removal project manager.

Arwyn Rice reports. Glines Canyon Dam doesn’t look much like a dam anymore

See also: Chinook salmon returning to dam-less Elwha River

NOSC looking for Morse Creek Salmon Volunteers

We have two weeks of Morse Creek left and need lots of help to get it done!  We’ll be surveying these next two upcoming Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.  Below is a list of dates with the greatest volunteer needs on top.  There are some great sections in our project site where the gravel is beautiful and clean from all the redds.  This week the nutrient cycling began and it’s beginning to smell like the pinks! 

Below is more information about the survey and what to bring. 

Please let me know if you can make a day and if you would like to carpool (I’m assuming you will).     
Hope you can join! 

Dates volunteers are needed:

Wednesday, Sept 18th: 9am-4pm
Thursday, Sept 19th:  9am-2pm – Strong need for volunteers
Friday, Sept 20th: 9am-4pm
Wednesday, Sept 25th: 9am-4pm - Strong need for volunteers
Thursday, Sept 26th: 9am-4pm - Strong need for volunteers
Friday, Sept 27th: 9am-4pm

Survey Times:

We will be surveying from 9am to approximately 4pm.  Some days may be longer if we have a good swing going and people are feeling up for it.  Please let us know if you won’t be able to come for the entire time (that is completely understandable!).  We will accommodate your needs. 

Carpooling Option:

NOSC will be leaving from our Port Hadlock office at 7:45am. (201 A West Patison Street, PH – Shold Business Park off Rhody Drive).  If you would like to carpool from Port Hadlock or get picked up along the way (such as the Discovery Bay Train Cars off 101) we’d love to carpool!  Please let us know if you are interested so we can make sure there is a seat available and that we know to wait for you.  The one catch (or perk!) with driving with us is that you will be committed to the entire day.  We will be driving a big white vehicle named Moby Dick!  How much more fun can it get? 

Survey Location:

We will be meeting at 651 Cottonwood Lane.

Morse Creek is located at the beautiful (and dangerous) curve just before you hit the car dealerships as you head into Port Angeles.  The speed goes down to 45 mph and on the left you’ll see a field and the right you’ll see a cabin.  There is a left turn lane to turn Left onto Cottonwood.  You will go over a speed bump and see the creek down to your left hand side.  You will approach a very sharp left hand turn (there is an info board to mark the spot).  Take that left to the end.  You’ll see a space to park on your left hand side and will see Moby Dick, the big white NOSC vehicle.

Day of Survey contact: 

In case you get lost, or something comes up…

1st option: Jac (518) 312-2658
2nd option: Sarah (410) 963-3497
3rd option: Jamie (206) 282-3025

What to Expect:

Beautiful sections of stream, Huge engineered log jams, deep pools, fish…we’ll be surveying stretches above the 2010 restoration project, where we did the restoration project and below the restoration (the impact reach), as well as side channels.  All survey protocol will be taught on site. 

We’ll be in the stream or along the shore for the entire day.  Some areas are deep, others are on bedrock which is extremely slippery.  The water is pretty cold.  Some elements of the survey require us to collect pebbles which can be very cold.   Sections along the stream have blackberries, and nettles.  These days can be long and tiring, but extremely rewarding.  We’ll only work within people’s comfort levels. 

What to bring:

-Lunch, LOTS of water and snacks (we typically bring a “second breakfast” or “second lunch”).  
-Chest waders (NOSC will bring yours – just let us know your size!) 
-Multiple warm layers, preferably non-cotton.  People have gotten wet and appreciated a change in clothes. 
-Dry clothes, socks and pants to change in to after the survey in case you get wet. 
-rain coat – many people wear a rain coat when we do the pebble survey so they don’t get completely wet
-sunglasses/hat, sunscreen

I think that is it!  Sorry it was so long-winded.  Please call if you have any questions (360) 379-8051

Looking forward to you joining –


Salmon heading to spawn past Elwha Dam site – King 5 & PDN

And more good news….

For the second year in a row, salmon are swimming in streams above the site of the former Elwha Dam. The Peninsula Daily News reports last summer’s return of salmon to the Elwha River above the former dam’s site were the first in 100 years. Olympic National Park spokeswoman Rainey McKenna says biologists have counted at least 500 adult chinook in the river, as well as a few pink salmon and coho.–222951691.html

Dungeness River has biggest salmon run in a half-century – PDN

So it would appear that at least some of the restoration work on the Dungeness is bearing fruit. One year doesn’t make a trend, but the trend has been going in the right direction for some time now. The Dungeness River Management Team celebrated their 25th year as a collaborative effort to help bring back the salmon. This is a great present to them.

The biggest run of pink salmon in the Dungeness River since 1963 is underway. The biannual summer run of pink salmon, also known as humpbacks or humpies, has filled the river with spawning fish so full that people easily can see the fish just about anywhere in the Dungeness River, said Scott Chitwood, natural resources director of the Jamestown S’Klallam tribe. Arwyn Rice reports.

Can-Am Leaders Launch Salmon Recovery Effort – Earthfix

UPDATE SINCE FIRST PUBLISH: (I’ve substantially rewritten this after chatting with Jacques White)

I think that Ashley Ahearn for Earthfix may have not quite got right the gist of what this project is going to be all about. After reading this article, and posting my thoughts, I called and chatted with Jaques White of the “Long Live the Kings”, one of the core groups helping get this project done. Jacques told me that this is all about creating monitoring of nearshore habitat for primarily steelhead, as they are the most robust younger fish and can actually more easily be tracked. Jacques stated that there if very little knowledge about what these fish do after reaching the salt water, and if we can figure them out, perhaps we can bring science to bear on fixing the problem of their high mortality rates, which have gotten much worse since the 1980s, never recovering to previous numbers.

The money will be spent on hiring scientists to monitor these fish and their habitats, both from the NW Indian Fisheries and State Dept of Fish and Wildlife.  So all good work to get the money to research this problem more.

It’s a good thing to get the leaders from both countries together and try and come up with the latest in scientific data on why, despite all the best of work and intentions, our salmon are still going down over all. However, not all is dire. Runs are increasing on many rivers, due to an incredible amount of work by many thousands of people and agencies. Those watersheds are being repopulated with fish because people already know what’s wrong and are working to implement solutions. However, as mentioned in the story, “The marine survival for many stocks of chinook, coho and steelhead that migrate through the Salish Sea is now less than one-tenth of what it was 30 years ago.” At least the participants in this new entity are good choices, and include a wide range of active participants in current solutions.

A stumbling block on all this  is the ugly truth that the Canadian government is purposely blocking independent researchers like Alexandra Morton from finding out what is really going on with fish viruses, which she has shown to be present. Unless Canada is willing  to accept that they may have a massive problem on their hands that might go against their business interests, and stop protecting the foreign investments that seem to be buying Ottawa’s support, it’s likely this will not help much for increasing ocean stocks. The Canadian government is treating Morton like a pariah, their actions speak much louder than their words. They have actively been shutting down any and all government funded labs that choose to work with her in the last six months alone. This is really outrageous, and puts their efforts to help fix the problem as suspect. So with that background, here’s the article by Earthfix.

Leaders on salmon research and recovery from the U. S. and Canada came together in Seattle Wednesday to announce a new project. It’s called the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project and it’s meant to address a major question: Why aren’t salmon and steelhead in Washington and Canadian waters recovering, despite the millions of dollars that have been spent on research and habitat restoration? “We have a fairly clear idea of what salmon need and what they’re doing in the freshwater environment. We know considerably less about the marine systems,” said Jacques White, executive director of Long Live The Kings. The Seattle-based non-profit is coordinating the effort along with the Pacific Salmon Foundation in B.C. Ashley Ahearn reports.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada looking into claims of sick herring–Times Colonist

Less than 100 miles or so north of us, the crisis of sick herring (and the disease vector that appears to be farmed Atlantic Salmon) is about to explode.  Can our fisheries be far behind?

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is trying to confirm reports from an independent biologist that herring around northern Vancouver Island have a disease that is causing bleeding from their gills, bellies and eyeballs.

Alexandra Morton wrote to DFO asking for an investigation and viral testing of the fish after she pulled up a net of about 100 herring near Sointula and found they were all bleeding.

Read the whole story at the Times Colonist:


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