Stealing Fish To Study Seabirds- Earthfix

As anyone who has bird watched around these parts in the last 20 years can tell, it’s pretty clear we have lost seabird populations. Now some new scientific data has come out on the problem.

Seabird populations in Puget Sound have declined since the 1970s and scientists believe pollution is partially to blame. But how do you prove that? Study what the seabirds are eating. A new paper [http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0025326X14004226] published in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin found that seabirds in Puget Sound are eating fish that are two to four times more contaminated than fish on Washington’s outer coast. Ashley Ahearn reports. (EarthFix)

http://earthfix.kcts9.org/flora-and-fauna/article/stealing-fish-to-study-seabirds/

Checkout Sound IQ–Great new site, need more like it!

From the Island County MRC group. This is really a great mapping application! Congratulations to the team that helped put this together.

Play around with the check boxes on the left side.

Sound IQ Map site

sound iq site snip

Fraser River system revived by biggest sockeye salmon run in nearly 100 years

It’s a great thing to see at least a one time run of sockeye come back in such great shape. It’s worth understanding that this is only one of the species of salmon, and that other runs are decimated and some species almost extinct.  So we can cheer this, but be cautious of the inevitable backlash of people who don’t believe in environmental protections (and their political supporters) using this to tell the general public that there is ‘nothing wrong’.  This is one victory for Canada, and we need to step up efforts so that we can see this kind of returns for all species of salmon. Some folks I’ve talked to who are knowledgeable seem to think that the sockeye experienced a particularly favorable year of ocean climate for them. Maybe less predators?  More food? Whatever it was, we are glad.

10/18 Globe and Mail
MARK HUME

At the mouth of what may be the world’s richest salmon river, Greg Schuler is wading slowly through a massive school of dead fish, doing fisheries research the hard way.

A senior technician with the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, he is counting fish by hand, lifting each on a forked spear, then lopping off its tail with a razor-sharp machete to make sure it isn’t tallied twice.

“It’s all in the wrist,” he says as he cuts a salmon in half with a flick of his blade, a movement he can repeat up to 3,000 times a day.

Some of the fish have spawned in the river and washed downstream, but others have died in Shuswap Lake, before laying their eggs.

More at
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/british-columbia/fraser-river-system-revived-by-biggest-sockeye-salmon-run-in-nearly-100-years/article1760086/

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Puget Sound Chemistry Transformed by Climate Change and Runoff – Scientific American

Puget Sound is becoming more acidic thanks to a combination of agricultural runoff and rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere

A combination of carbon dioxide emitted by human activities and nutrient runoff is transforming the chemistry of Washington state’s Puget Sound, according to a new study.

Read the whole story at Scientific American:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=puget-sound-chemistry-transformed-by-climate-change-abd-runoff

-This threatens our entire shellfish industry, as well as other possible life forms. Runoff is one of the major causes, a reason that we value better shoreline management to slow or stop shoreline runoff. Also, stormwater runoff is another cause, which comes from roads with improperly created storm sewers.  Getting funding at the state level to correct these as quickly as possible is key.

While I have your attention: It may be a good time to review the map, commissioned by People For Puget Sound, done by the UW GIS group. It shows the exact locations of every one of the 4500 manmade storm sewers that empty to the Sound, along with 2123 natural drainages, and 297 DOT created drainages, including bridges.

http://pugetsound.org/pressroom/press-releases/042309stormdrains/?searchterm=storm%20water%20map

Dept of Ecology Sends Oil Spill Equipment to Gulf – NW oil spill safety net frayed

A fallout of the Gulf fiasco is now that our state is sending both Navy oil skimming vessels, temporarily lowered our oil spill preparedness standards,  and sent essentially our  entire stock of boom and dispersants to the Gulf as well as barges that could be used in the event of a spill here.  This seems like a very bad idea. While personnel can be rapidly deployed, the notion of emptying our supplies and lowering standards is exactly the wrong idea. Accidents and mechanical failure are what this is all about. You have to be prepared for accidents. By emptying our stocks for this futile effort in cleaning up the Gulf, it leaves us more vulnerable to it happening here. We have this beautiful environment here because we didn’t lower our standards or enforcement, we raised them! The Gulf is in this predicament because they have allowed themselves to be controlled by the oil industry and it’s cheerful, “can’t ever happen here” lobbyists and spokespeople, and regulators who lowered the standards!.  We need to not let our guard down. The tragedy in the Gulf is not going to be changed one bit by our sending all our supplies there, but it could be a fiasco for us.

Update – 7 July: It appears that DOE is also considering  sending our rescue tug to the Gulf. I am checking today with DOE on this and other issues.  It appears that neither the Port of Port Townsend, nor county officials were alerted in advance, nor asked if this was a concern to them locally. Discussions appear to be under way with the State, the Feds, our elected federal officials, the Navy, the Tribes and others. There should be clarification on this coming later today, or tomorrow.

——————————————————————————————

OLYMPIA – Navy Region Northwest will soon send five oil-skimming vessels to help with the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill response in the Gulf of Mexico, pending receipt of Washington Department of Ecology’s (Ecology) official notification on Tuesday, July 6.

Oil-skimming vessels collect oil spilled on water. The Navy earlier sent two of its nine skimmers as well as several smaller work boats from Washington to the Gulf.

Ecology regulates two Navy oil-transfer facilities in Puget Sound. The Navy will keep its two remaining Puget Sound skimmers at their regular stations.

Ecology and the Navy have agreed that the Navy will maintain standing measures, and add interim measures, to help prevent and be sufficiently prepared for any spills that might occur in Washington while the skimmers are helping the Gulf response. These standing or interim measures include:

  • Continuing the requirement for all Navy vessels to be pre-boomed while in port, even if the vessel is not being fueled.
  • Restricting fuel transfers over water to daylight hours – unless there is a documented necessity to support an operational mission. Non-daylight transfers must be approved by a Navy on-scene spill coordinator.
  • Following established Navy directives, orders and other measures that already apply to fuel transfers while in port. These include enhanced staffing levels during all fuel transfers, to include having supervisory personnel on deck and watching from topside to prevent spills. It also means ensuring fueling crews are fully qualified in the Navy’s spill prevention and response procedures.
  • If an oil or hazardous material spill occurs, the Navy must ask the U.S. Coast Guard to activate the services of the Marine Spill Response Corp., National Response Corp. or other private spill-response contractors in Washington to assist with response equipment and personnel. The Coast Guard has confirmed this action will be taken, if requested. Both Ecology and the Coast Guard have agreed to adopt an aggressive, enhanced response posture until the Navy equipment returns from the Gulf.
  • Updating the Navy’s state oil-spill contingency plan that outlines the response actions it will take to minimize environmental impacts from a spill.

“We believe these spill prevention and preparedness measures will help ensure Navy is ready and capable of mounting a rapid, aggressive and well-coordinated response to any spill that might occur while their skimmers are out helping with the Gulf spill response,” said Ecology Spills Program Manager Dale Jensen.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Coast Guard and Environmental Protection Agency announced they had lowered federal oil-spill preparedness standards, including cleanup equipment, to get more resources – especially skimming vessels and other skimming systems – to the Gulf.

The new temporary measures require industry and entities like the Navy to maintain enough equipment to respond to a much more modest but more likely spill of 2,100 gallons.

Washington state law, however, requires the oil industry and other entities that transfer large amounts of fuel over state waters, to be able to respond to a worst-case spill scenario. In some instances, that means oil-handling facilities must be prepared to respond to spills involving millions of gallons of oil and other petroleum products.

Jensen said Ecology has received numerous requests by private spill contractors to send equipment to the Gulf. Ecology quickly established a process to track and evaluate each request from the regulated community. The state agency also is tracking what its federal response partners, including the U.S. Coast Guard and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, have sent.

Ecology has let experienced response personnel, the state’s entire stock of about 15,000 gallons of chemical dispersants and 1,400 feet of fireproof oil boom, several shallow water barge systems, and more than 50,000 feet of oil containment boom go to the Gulf so far. See how Washington is helping the Gulf spill response.

Jensen said, “We are doing all we can to help our neighbors in the Gulf while preserving a core level of spill response readiness in Washington. It also means, however, that everyone must be extra vigilant about keeping oil out of Washington’s waters. It doesn’t matter if you’re at the helm of an oil tanker or if you’re a weekend boater. We need your help in preventing all oil spills, regardless of size.”

A 2004 draft study commissioned by Ecology estimates that if a major spill were to occur in Washington waters, the state could suffer nearly $11 billion in economic losses, and more than 165,000 jobs across the state would be adversely affected, along with the environmental damage.

On May 10, Ecology and the Marine Spill Response Corp. held unannounced oil-spill response drills in five critical locations in Puget Sound to test the company’s agreement with Global Diving & Salvage Inc. to temporary backfill for more than 25 experienced responders as well equipment MSRC had sent to the Gulf. The call-out test was successful.

Oil Spill Activism: A Hole in the Bottom of the Sea

*6/28/10 Huffington Post
Brenda Peterson
What can we do, besides sit paralyzed before Gulf oil spill images of BP burning sea turtles alive, desperate fishermen waiting for clean-up jobs, and a toxic gusher hours away from the threat of gale-force winds? For those of us who also live by water, we can get involved in protecting our own shores from increased offshore drilling and future oil spills.
That’s why I joined my Seattle neighbors here on the serpentine Salish Sea (Puget Sound) for the "Hands Across the Sand" <http://http://www.handsacrossthesand.com/> ; event. On Alki Beach, 168 of us joined hands at low tide. It was high noon and we stood, mostly barefoot in the cool, sinking sand, chanting "No More Offshore Drilling!" and "We Need Clean, Alternative Energies!"
…"Talk to each other," one of the organizers advised. And we did. A Sierra Club <http://http://www.sierraclub.org/welcome/> ; volunteer handed out bumper stickers: "Chill the Drills in the Arctic." People for Puget Sound <http://pugetsound.org/>  handed out postcards to our governor and legislature, "No Oil Spills in Puget Sound: Fully Fund Washington State’s Oil Spill Program." Though we have no offshore drilling here, 15 billion gallons of oil travel through our waters. We have four huge refineries to receive and process them.
More at
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brenda-peterson/oil-spill-activism-a-hole_b_627076.html

Whatcom County program helps farmers pay for projects to protect creeks

In stark contrast to the somewhat incoherent rant of a county farmer  in the Leader last week who has opposed many of the efforts to restore creeks here in Jefferson County, is this positive article from Bellingham (Whatcom county), about the efforts there to pay farmers to protect streams. This is what we likely will see more of as the efforts to fix a century of damage both from bad and good intentions continue. Canary grass, as an example, was promoted by state and county officials in the 40s, if I have my decade right. A nice piece of positive news for a change!  Click through to read the whole article and help protect local journalism…

6/24 Bellingham Herald

JOHN STARK /     THE BELLINGHAM HERALD
The tall shrubbery along the bank of Four Mile Creek probably doesn’t attract much notice from the motorists who whiz past it on Hannegan Road, but it’s a piece of a broad effort to help Whatcom County farmers improve water quality in the streams that cross their land.
The willows and other vegetation along the banks almost completely conceal the creek below. That’s part of the idea, said George Boggs, executive director of the Whatcom Conservation District.
"It shades out the canary grass," Boggs said. "The canary grass slows down the water, which makes drainage more difficult for the farmer."
More at
http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2010/06/25/1496775/whatcom-county-program-helps-farmers.html

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