Return of the River – A homerun of a movie for Gussman and Plumb

Just got out of the world premiere of  ‘Return of the River”, the film that likely will be considered the definitive work on the Elwha Dam removal.  This film, years in the making, was a labor of love for the two Peninsula based filmmakers, John Gussman and Jessica Plumb. And it was great to see it premiered here at the Port Townsend Film Festival.

The film tracks in detail the history of the dam, but more importantly the place that is the Elwha River, the feel for the Olympic Peninsula then and now, and a great depth of interviews with people that were instrumental, on both sides of the controversial project.  It is impossible not to come away impressed with the idea that hard things to do take a long time, and a lot of consensus building. From the interviews with leading politicians, mill managers, environmentalists, writers, biologists, and most importantly, the tribal members of the Lower Elwha Tribe, who never gave up hope to bring back the historic runs. There were so many people who played significant small roles in this drama. Gussman and Plumb treated all with the respect they deserve. There are no demeaning ‘heroes and villains’ caricatures.

It is almost trite to say that certain stories are ‘epic’ and ‘pivotal’ but the removal of the Elwha Dam has been just that. It has galvanized world attention more than almost any other single environmental event of the last ten years, because it is a message of hope. Hope that we can restore what we have destroyed. Gussman and Plumb have captured that story, distilled it to 70 minutes, and given fair treatment to all sides, and points of view. More than ever, we need stories of hope in the face of ever mounting environmental problems to solve.

In the last week, I’ve posted the story that bull trout have been seen in the upper Elwha for the first time in a century. Also that the shores of the Elwha estuary are turning back into a clam bed capable  sand spit. The power of restoration is an amazing thing to watch.  The restoration of this river, with it’s unique short run from sea to protected park, is possible, and is happening, right now, in front of our eyes for just taking the time to go look.

Gussman and Plumb, along with the rest of their crew, have given us the story, in all it’s facets. A well crafted storyline, beautiful filmmaking, solid editing, a wonderful original soundtrack, animation when needed of the hard concepts.

Congratulations for a remarkable piece of work. A 5 star must see film.

Shellfish Tell Puget Sound’s Polluted Tale – Earthfix

It’s always been a question mark in my mind, about how much of the bad stuff in the Sound are we eating with our delicious meals of shellfish. Now we know. And it’s a good word of caution that if you are regularly eating shellfish, that buying them from growers who are away from urban environments, or harvesting them yourself in remote places, is the best rule of thumb. And it also gives us a very easy way  to measure the recovery efforts at work. The bad news is that PCBs, long banned, continue to be found in the water, as do flame retardants. Both are cancer causing. It points out that storm water runoff and our crazy notion that we can pour our sewage into our Sound, have consequences for us.

Scientists used shellfish to conduct the broadest study to date of pollution levels along the shore of Puget Sound. And in some places, it’s pretty contaminated. This past winter the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife put mussels at more than 100 sites up and down Puget Sound. After a few months, volunteers and WDFW employees gathered the shellfish and analyzed them for metals, fossil fuel pollution, flame-retardants and other chemicals. The WDFW just released the results. [http://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/01643/] Ashley Ahearn reports. (EarthFix)

http://earthfix.kcts9.org/water/article/shellfish-tell-puget-sounds-polluted-tale/

State of the Birds Report: Conservation Works, but There’s More Work to Do – Cornell Lab of Ornithology

cropped-2014-double-eagle001-mxf-still001-5.jpg

This week, the Cornell Lab and partners released the 2014 State of the Birds Report. The report commemorates Martha, the world’s last Passenger Pigeon, whose tragic passing 100 years ago spurred the creation of the world’s greatest conservation movement.

In the last century we’ve saved Wood Ducks and Bald Eagles, Kirtland’s Warblers and Brown Pelicans, and more. The new report offers the most comprehensive review of long-term trend data for U.S. birds ever, identifying a Watch List of 228 high-concern species as well as 33 Common Birds in Steep Decline to begin conserving now. See the full report and download the lists.

‘Warm blob’ keeps possible record sockeye run away from U.S. waters – Bellingham Herald

The story of how this year’s great hot weather has affected the salmon runs. 

In a development that has left local fishermen scratching their heads, it appears an unusually warm section of ocean water is helping send nearly the entire sockeye salmon run into Canadian fishing waters this season. According to data from the Pacific Salmon Commission through Tuesday, Aug. 19, in recent weeks about 99 percent of the sockeye salmon has gone through the Johnstone Strait around the northern part of Vancouver Island into Canadian waters. That’s made a big difference in who is catching the fish: Nearly 2.9 million sockeye salmon have been caught in Canadian waters, while the U.S. fishermen had caught around 98,000 through Aug. 19. Dave Gallagher reports. (Bellingham Herald)

 

 http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2014/08/24/3815002_warm-blob-keeps-possible-record.html

Support local journalism. Subscribe to the Bellingham Herald. 

Obama Administration Finalizes Stronger Stream Buffers to Protect Imperiled Salmon from Pesticides

http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/08/13/18759976.php

The Environmental Protection Agency today finalized an agreement to restore no-spray buffer zones around waterways to protect imperiled salmon and steelhead from five toxic pesticides.

A coalition of conservation organizations, advocates for alternatives to pesticides, and fishing groups cheered the victory. These groups brought a lawsuit to demand reasonable fish protections from the insecticides, some of which are derived from nerve toxins developed during World War II….

The buffers apply to salmon habitat throughout California, Oregon, and Washington to prohibit aerial spraying of broad-spectrum pesticides diazinon, chlorpyrifos, malathion, carbaryl, and methomyl within 300 feet of salmon habitat and prohibit ground-based applications within 60 feet.

 

The agreement provides detailed notice to state regulators, pesticide applicators, farmers, and the public about the required no-spray buffer zones. These buffers will remain in place until the National Marine Fisheries Service completes analyses of the impacts of these five pesticides on the fish. Then, the EPA must implement permanent protections grounded in the Fisheries Service’s findings. (Indymedia)

Slippery plans for “organic” certification of farmed fish – Action needed by April 8th

Over the past decade, WILD has become widely recognized as the gold standard for quality salmon and other seafoods, and the fishing industry and consumers have benefited when labels are accurate and can be trusted. Occasional packages of imported farmed salmon labeled “organic” in US markets simply indicated the corruption of some foreign certification standards. This would never be allowed by our Department of Agriculture… or so we thought.
The USDA National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is meeting April 29 – May 2, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas, and is considering various petitions that are part of a concerted effort to certify US farmed salmon and other seafoods as organic. Some NOSB members have said that since farmed fish are here already, setting standards will raise the bar on an industry with notoriously dirty practices. Yet, for years since the Livestock Committee recommended farmed
seafoods for certification, instead of assessing species to be reared, whether ocean or coastal cages should be allowed, composition of feed, impacts of pollution and other problems of marine feedlots, at this meeting, they are considering exemptions for usage of chlorine, vaccines, and synthetic feed additives requested by aquaculture operations hoping to secure organic accreditation in the future. They need to be educated before the process picks up any
more momentum on a very slippery slope.
Comments have to be submitted by April 8, 2014 and can be sent via http://www.regulations.gov/ #submitComment;D=AMS_FRDOC_0001-1155. For additional
information, email Michelle Arsenault (Michelle.Arsenault@ams.usda.gov), NOSB Advisory Board Specialist or call 202-720-0081.
This move towards certifying seafoods reared in feedlots would not only confuse consumers, itcould cause serious economic harm to capture fisheries. Fresh farmed organic fish may trump frozen wild fish in the marketplace, even among very savvy consumers. “If the USDA does decide to allow farm-raised fish into the ranks of USDA-certified organic products, this could open the door to a huge increase in profits for the aquaculture industry as well as give them a huge leg up over the commercial fishing industry.” (The Organic Aquaculture Quandary )
The pressure may also be coming from growers of commodity crops looking for new markets to dump their products. Representatives of the American Soy Growers and Illinois Soybean Association attended NOAA meetings in the Pacific Northwest to describe their industry plans to produce feed for the fish farm industry. “Aquaculture Oceans of Opportunity” states “Marine or offshore aquaculture is fast becoming the focus of aquaculture expansion” and the Illinois Soybean Association has “made considerable investments in furthering offshore aquaculture productions systems and in perfecting feed rations”. http://www.ilsoy.org/documents/aquaculture-oceans-opportunity
Since the inception of the National Organic Program, the standards have been trusted to mean that food with the label have been produced in ways that are compatible with organic principles of adhering to practices that “restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony … and balance natural systems.” These principles require protecting biodiversity, minimizing environmental impacts, controlling inputs, and allowing “natural behaviors.” These are not the practices of
industrial aquaculture.
There are many problems that could be described in comments:
* Marine fish farms replicate some of the worst practices of confined animal feedlot operations, known as CAFOs, which could never receive organic certification.
*Impacts are largely under the waterline and out of sight, so the fish farm industry has escaped scrutiny that would have closed down comparably dirty land-based operations. Marine netpens allow excess feed, pathogens, parasites, and voluminous amounts of pollution to flush into the surrounding waters, putting other aquatic species at risk.
*Farmed fish escape, competing with wild species for food and habitat. More than 613,000 non-native Atlantic salmon escaped from netpens into Washington State waters in 4 years; millions of farmed fish escape world-wide.
*The salmon farming industry uses more antibiotics per pound than any other livestock producer and these pesticides, fungicides, algaecides and other chemicals flush from open cages into the surrounding waters.
*Several studies have concluded that usage of antibiotics in fish farming increases antibiotic resistant bacteria in our marine environment and in our food supply. The industrial aquaculture production system medicates to the weakest animal and sick and treated fish and seafood sometimes end up in the marketplace.
*Neil Frazer, professor at the University of Hawaii, states that large-scale farming of finfish “eventually destroys surrounding wild fish stocks … nature has an effectively inexhaustible supply of diseases.”
*Use of fish meal and fish oil from wild forage fish result in overfishing of wild fish to feed carnivorous farmed fish. One-third of the ocean’s harvest is herring, anchovies, mackerel and other small fish, which are made into fish meal and oil for fattening farmed fish and animals.
The aquaculture industry already uses more than half the world’s fishmeal and more than 80 percent of the fish oil. Rearing salmon, halibut, blackcod and many other marine species is unsustainable because of the net loss of protein.
*Standards for organic livestock requires that their feed is 100% organic feed, yet the proposed aquaculture standard would allow farmed fish feed to be 25% wild fish, claiming the forage fish meal and oil will not be “feed” but instead a “feed supplement. Wild salmon and other food fish were previously denied organic certification by the NOSB.
*Farmed fish have documented higher amounts of environmental contaminants since the feed concentrates mercury, lead, and persistent bioaccumlative toxins. A study by the Environmental Working Group showed farmed salmon often are the most PCB-contaminated protein source in the U.S. food supply, with an average of 16 times the level of PCBs as wild fish.
*“The recommendation acknowledges the human health risks, but would only require them be removed if found to have contaminants in amounts higher than regulatory levels in commercially available fish meal and oil. Thus the proposed “organic” standard would allow the same level of contaminants in fish meal as those permitted by general industrial aquaculture. This provision is a microcosm of the recommendation as a whole: rather than setting a higher bar for organics, and risk losing the ability to label salmon and other predatory fish as “organic,” it merely lowers the organic bar to the existing commercial standards.” Center for Food Safety presentation to the NOSB.
*Organic standards require animals to be able to exhibit their “natural behavior.” Wild salmon and other ocean fish swim for their lifetimes, and confining these fish is a direct violation of one of the core organic principles.
Anne Mosness will attend the Spring 2014 NOSB meeting, representing the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Marketing Association (email: eatwildfish@aol.com).
More info:   “Can farmed salmon be organic”, PCC Sound Consumer:
Center for Food Safety:
e_final_34952_38967.pdf
The Organic Aquaculture Qandary:
Anne Mosness
34 Rocky Ridge Dr.
Bellingham, Wa. 98229

Coalition Wins Shorelines Hearings Board Geoduck Aquaculture Appeal

The Washington Shorelines Hearings Board ruled in favor of the Coalition To Protect Puget Sound Habitat and reversing and dening the first subtidal/intertidal geoduck aquaculture permit approved in Washington by Pierce County (see attached decision).

The Board concluded that “This farm located on a shoreline of statewide significance means that particular consideration must be given to balancing aquaculture as one statewide interest, with other statewide interests like the ecological values and the public’s recreational use.”

“The careful review required for this shoreline of statewide significance weighs in favor of requiring a cumulative impact analysis of the impacts that might result from granting the first subtidal geoduck farm permit in Henderson Bay-in particular to assess the potential for longer term impacts to fragile resources like eelgrass, as well as unique use of the area by recreationalists like windsurfers.”

For more information on the work of the Coalition To Protect Puget Sound Habitat and the Washington State Sierra Club to protect fragile marine resources, please visit:

http://coalitiontoprotectpugetsoundhabitat.org/

http://washington.sierraclub.org/tatoosh/Aquaculture/index.asp

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 267 other followers

%d bloggers like this: