Coastal researchers launch blog to share findings about ocean – Watching Our Waterways

Lots of fish from tropical waters are being seen in the surveys reported by Chris. Check out this quick read.

It’s an interesting time for researchers to begin writing a blog about ocean conditions off Oregon and Washington, an area undergoing some fascinating changes in oceanography and sealife. Scientists from NOAA Fisheries and Oregon State University launched their new website, “Newporter Blog,” [http://www.nwfsc.noaa.gov/news/blogs/display_blogentry.cfm?blogid=1&#blogentry1] last week. It’s named after the Newport Line, an area of study off the Oregon Coast where researchers have monitored changes for the past 20 years. Chris Dunagan reports. (Watching Our Water Ways)

http://pugetsoundblogs.com/waterways/2015/07/02/coastal-researchers-launch-blog-to-share-findings-about-ocean/

How Anglers Are Learning To Save Fish That Get ‘The Bends’ – KPLU

Good article on the device that is saving fish from the bends. If you fish, you should take a listen.

Each year, sport fishermen unintentionally kill millions of deep-water fish they don’t want or can’t keep. These fish die even though they are handled gently and released quickly. The reason: a condition called barotrauma, which divers know as “the bends.” The problem occurs in fish that have a swim bladder, an internal balloon that helps them control their buoyancy. When a fish is pulled up, “that balloon rapidly begins to expand as the pressure from the water decreases,” says Chris Lowe, a marine scientist at California State, Long Beach. So by the time a deep-water fish reaches the surface, he says, “its eyes could be popped out of its head, its stomach is pushed out of its mouth and it looks absolutely horrific.” Jon Hamilton reports. (KPLU)

http://kplu.org/post/how-anglers-are-learning-save-fish-get-bends

New Fishing Rule Protects Endangered Seabird – AP

New laws proposed to protect the short-tailed albatross.

Federal fisheries managers are proposing to require West Coast commercial fishermen who unroll long lines of baited hooks on the ocean bottom to also tow long lines of fluttering plastic to scare off seabirds trying to steal the bait. The proposed rule published Tuesday in the Federal Register is designed to protect the endangered short-tailed albatross, which once numbered in the millions but is down to about 1,200 individuals. (Associated Press)

http://earthfix.kcts9.org/flora-and-fauna/article/new-fishing-rule-protects-endangered-seabird/

‘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. 

Thoughts on the Mount Polley Tailing Mines Disaster – What it means to us

The ongoing nightmare on Quesnel Lake from the Mount Polley Tailing “Pond”, has huge ramifications for us in Washington State and the Olympic Peninsula. This fiasco is being whitewashed by the politicians from both the Provincial and the Federal level in Canada. The official line is ‘it’s not that bad” when the truth is it’s likely far worse than anyone imagines. Huge amounts of highly toxic materials, including the possibility of radioactive material (that is now being discussed in official circles), pose grave downstream risks to the Salish Sea  and the wildlife that passes through it on their way elsewhere.

The primary talked about toxin in this stew is mercury. Lots of it. It’s used in this kind of mining and ends up being a by-product that can’t be removed,  just managed. We already deal with mercury in our fish, to a manageable degree, and it’s affects are well known and avoided. However, without knowing how much mercury might be in the tailings that are now in the Lake, the government has been suggesting that there is nothing to fear from the water. Let’s be clear, mercury ingested in significant amounts can cause Minamata’s Disease. Look it up on Wikipedia. It was highlighted in a Pulitzer Prize winning article in Life Magazine in the 1970s, photographed by Eugene Smith, when an entire village in Minamata Japan suffered from horrible birth defects because of unregulated mercury poisoning. The Canadian Government is putting it’s people at serious risk by inaction. And us too. 

To quote part of the Wikipedia article:

Symptoms (of mercury poisoning and Minamata Disease) includeataxianumbness in the hands and feet, general muscle weakness, narrowing of the field of vision, and damage tohearing and speech. In extreme cases, insanityparalysiscoma, and death follow within weeks of the onset of symptoms. A congenital form of the disease can also affect foetuses in the womb.

All these were experienced in Japan in the 70s in Minamata. 

And this is just one of the toxins that was contained behind this tailing dam. 

Without immediate work to setup coffer dams and drain the areas around the spill in Quesnel Lake, we may see a huge amount of mercury, along with other toxins, enter the Salish Sea,  and undoubtably affect the Sockeye that come out of Quesnel, one of the largest sockeye spawning habitat in Canada.

These fish make up the primary food of the remaining local pods of Orcas. And our fishermen catch them and we eat them. Lots of them. In other words, our fishing industry and our Orcas could be at risk.

We need our politicians to act now, to demand that the Canadian government stop pretending this not a serious problem and begin cleanup of this spill. There has been to date, no work begun on cleaning up the spill! (as of Sunday August 24)

This is not just about the lame excuses that Victoria and their muzzled scientists gives us about how they think their untreated sewage is not affecting the Straits. This is about possibly poisoning our fish and ourselves. And if we don’t stop it soon, it may be permanent. An oozing toxic mess that’s not cleaned up will pose a threat for decades to come. Just ask the folks at Hanford. The  comments coming from high level government Canadian officials are true doublespeak.  To be clear, the simplest way of understanding this is that if the massive amounts of tailing waste were not a danger to human health and the environment why are they held behind these ponds in the first place? It’s because they have been proven, for over 100 years, to be very harmful, if not deadly, to plants and animals, including us! There is no ‘lucky break’ (as stated by a senior government official) in a dump of this magnitude, there is only a bad outcome of various magnitudes.

The mine managers and the regulators that refused to enforce the laws, have created an environmental disaster of monumental proportion that has yet to fully unfold. What matters now is protecting the entire river systems that will carry this muck to the ocean. And protect the drinking water that might be pulled out of the river for human consumption. 

What’s the possibility of the US having a significant say in this issue? Read the following excellent article about our treaties with Canada, and the power that we have to force them to change legally. And remember that it’s because we have a Democratic, environmentally supportive president that we can read something like this. In a different previous era, our government would likely have been looking the other way in support of rampant environmental degradation.

Stephen Hume: Political fallout from Mount Polley mine spill may come from U.S.

Fishing report from the PDN

Wondering how the salt water fishing is going? Here’s todays’ report from the PDN.

http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20140801/NEWS/308019985

Goodbye and thank you to Carol Burns – Northwest Filmmaker

On this 40th anniversary of the Boldt Decision, news has come that filmmaker Carol Burns passed away on April 22nd in Olympia. She was a young filmmaker when she documented the struggles of the native people around Tacoma and Olympia, including Billy Frank Jr. that led up to the legal challenge that became the Boldt Decision. Her film is the only known original documentary footage that tracked the tribal people who were being harassed and arrested along the rivers of that area. Her work will survive as the lasting documentary of that era, as many of the prinicipals have now died, or are elderly. I attempted to get a new, updated documentary done on this last year, talking to many people in Olympia and Seattle, but found no real interest in it among any of the agencies or peoples that were involved. No one had any desire to fund such an independent effort, including the State Historical Society. In ten more years,  the remaining people who could tell the story first person are likely to be gone. I understand that the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission has done video interviews with many of the original tribal participants, but not as a focused documentary film. Hopefully, somewhere down the road an enterprising filmmaker will go to them and work out a way to fund a project to relook at Boldt 40+ years after.

You can watch, “As Long As The Rivers Run” on the Internet Archive here:

https://archive.org/details/AsLongAsTheRiversRun

Part of Carol’s Obituary from the Olympian Newspaper:

Carol M. Burns was born in Olympia, Washington on February 19, 1939, and passed away April 22, 2014. Carol was well known in the Olympia area for her many contributions to the causes that were close to her heart. A filmmaker, she was one of the founders of Capital Area Community Television Association, now in its 32nd year, and known as TCTV. Her best known work is the 1970 film As Long As the Rivers Run, about one Indian family and their struggle to hold on to their treaty rights and traditional way of life. A memorial service will be held Saturday, May 10, 2014, at 12:00 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Olympia. 

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