Port of Port Townsend aims to develop joint request to help orcas – PDN

Port Commissioners across the North Sound, led by our three Jefferson County Commissioners, have decided to weigh in to the Governor’s Southern Resident Killer Whale Recovery and Task Force. But their comments make one wonder where is the science that comes into  their personal opinions and assumptions on what’s needed.

I have tracked the decline of the Orcas in this blog for over 10 years. I have never heard scientists arguing on the points that Commissioner and whale watch boat captain Pete Hanke, was quoted on in The PDN. Let’s look at his comment.

“Turn the hatcheries on, go full bore, get a lot of fish in the water,”he aid. “Why not? It’s not going to hurt anything. The idea of keeping this native thing going is short-sighted. There’s a lot of science out there that questions whether the [southern resident orcas] will survive at any rate.” Hanke also said that he believes the Fraser River to be of the most polluted rivers in the region. The salmon coming out of the river are quite high in PCBs and contribute a lot of damage to the [southern resident orcas],” Hanke said. “So saying we want to get more fish out of the Fraser River doesn’t really solve the problem.

For a man who is in charge of helping determine the effective use of tax dollars in a local port, it’s a remarkably odd statement. The Port has itself wrapped around the axle on finding the funds to replace an aging breakwater, Pete has not shown any great ideas to the community about how this is going to get funded, and the Port’s leader, Sam Gibbony just resigned, with no explanation. So what about Pete’s comments?

Hatcheries already are doing their job for decades and haven’t been contributing near enough. We spent about $3M last year with virtually no science to show that it’s been of enormous help. There is also no science saying that by miraculously expanding hatchery output (even if we could do it quickly) that we will save the Orca.

According to the State of Washington Fish and Wildlife web site “During the 2018 legislative session, WDFW and other state agencies were provided about $3 million to support new and ongoing orca recovery efforts, such as reducing the presence of toxic contaminants in Puget Sound, and increasing hatchery production of Chinook salmon and other prey species.”https://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/orca/

Reducing toxins in the water takes decades to see significant results. Pete’s comment that the “salmon coming out of the Fraser are quite high in PCBs…” is the first I’ve heard of this issue. Rather than saying that the US should be doing something, he pushes the problem to Canada, where we have little or no influence. However, a 2018 study from the WA Dept of Fish & Wildlife pointed out that , contrary to Pete’s assumption, that 98% of PCBs are accumulated by the fish in salt water, not fresh water, such as the Duwamish or Frasier. “The amount of PCBs in adult salmon that is acquired in the freshwater environment, including hatcheries, varies from approximately 1% in undeveloped rivers to 4% in developed river where out-migrating juvenile fish acquire more PCBs. Hatchery feed is estimated to contribute a maximum of 1% of the PCBs measured in adult Chinook from Puget Sound that originated in hatcheries.” Read the whole report on PCBs in salmon here:

However, the science does not support the notion that the hatcheries  are adding significantly to the food the Orca eat, which scat samples from scientists show to be Chinook from the Frasier and Columbia rivers, which find their way to the Salish Sea. The most effective way to quickly raise the number of fish available for the Orca, would be to stop*all* fishing in the Strait and the Sound, as the Canadians did on June 1 in the Gulf Islands. Perhaps a moratorium on catching any Chinook for ten years would be a good start. I’ve heard this thought supported by any number of old time fishermen. Would the Tribes be on board? Not likely from the tribal members I’ve heard quoted in the news.

No word is mentioned as to whether the Port supports breaching the lower Snake River dams, which many scientists believe will add significant amounts of salmon into the system quickly. Want to know why some scientists are supporting doing this? Read the information at this web site to start. http://www.wildsalmon.org/facts-and-information/why-remove-the-4-lower-snake-river-dams.html

It states:

An extensive modeling effort completed in 2000 analyzed of the causes of mortality for Snake River salmon. The model demonstrated that the four lower Snake River dams were the most significant factor preventing recovery. The cumulative effect of eight dams on the lower Columbia and lower Snake Rivers is too much for salmon survival and if the four dams on the lower Snake were removed (cutting the total number of dams Snake River stocks face in half), these salmon can rebound to healthy levels.

More recent studies also show that populations of other Columbia Basin salmon that migrate through four or less dams and reservoirs, such as those from the Yakima and John Day rivers are performing significantly better than those from the Snake river. Those populations, like the Snake, also encounter mortality as a result of habitat destruction, harvest, hatcheries, predators and ocean conditions, but they are not imperiled. The difference lies in the number of mainstem dams they encounter. A key benefit for Snake River populations is the amount of high quality habitat they have that is not found in the other Columbia basins.

One of the main people doing scientific research into saving the Orca is Ken Balcomb. He recently addressed the Southern Resident Killer Whale (SRKW) Recovery and Task Force and posted to Facebook a message that included the following statement:

“…The human population and its appetites are growing too fast in the region to keep up with the clean-up. My analysis of the potential food resources for the SRKW led me to the Snake/Columbia salmon stocks as the only saving possibility within US and State of Washington jurisdiction…The basic biology and ecology of these amazing animals is fascinating, and their habits belie your  (Senator Kevin Ranker’s) hypothesis that a vessel regulatory approach will “save these incredible creatures.”

They will travel to wherever the food is most available, and by their absence they are illustrating that the food is not sufficiently available in San Juan County anymore. Nor in the Salish Sea. We all remember the heyday of fishing and the weeks-on-end of superpods, but those days are over throughout their foraging range.”

His web site states:

The larger environmental question reflected in the J35 story is that both the USA and Canada MUST redouble efforts to restore wild (emphasis mine) salmon (particularly Chinook) throughout Washington State and British Columbia for a food supply for the SRKW in this region.

On June 1st the Canadian government took drastic action.

“…the Government of Canada is imposing fishery management measures to reduce the total harvest for Chinook salmon by 25-35 percent. These measures include closures that will help increase the availability of this critical food source for Southern Resident killer whales.

The closures will take place in three key foraging (feeding) areas: Strait of Juan de Fuca, Gulf Islands and the mouth of the Fraser River.

These measures will be implemented for the 2018 salmon fishing season, with monitoring to assess the effectiveness of the closures.”

Ken believes we have only about five more years of breeding before the population is unable to support itself going forward. A ban for 5 to 10 years on all take of Chinook can immediately start to rectify the problem.


Another area of concern is our ongoing destruction of the shorelines where forage fish, another favorite food of salmon, spawn. Sound Action (I am Board President of Sound Action)  has stated,

In Washington State, our primary law governing nearshore habitat protection is called the Hydraulic Code, and any in-water development work requires a permit called an HPA which is under the jurisdiction of the State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). Unfortunately, there are significant gaps in the WDFW administration of the law with the department approving every permit, regardless of scale or impact. Similarly, issued permits are commonly missing important environmental regulations developed to protect fish life and habitat.

Multiple parties, including environmental groups, public agency employees and the Northwest Treaty Tribes have all raised concerns related to habitat loss as a result of WDFW administration of the HPA permit program. Even WDFW has documented this issue with internal program evaluation finding only a small portion of HPAs reviewed were appropriately protecting important ecosystem functions.

This means that nearshore habitat is lost every day with each new dock, bulkhead, marina, dredging operation or export facility permit issued without appropriate environmental regulations. Eelgrass beds that were once vast ribbons of green are shaded out until they’re gone. Forage fish spawning grounds are decimated. Important sedimentation processes that nourish beaches and give them life are choked off.

So just properly implementing our existing regulations would also have an impact.

Outside the jurisdiction of these permits is the ongoing conversion of shoreline habitat to commercial geoduck farms. Thousands of acres have been converted to mono-culture permanent farms for Chinese buyers since 2000.  Over 98% of the harvest is sent there. No one in government has seriously talked about when enough is enough. The question to be asked is, “When will say that we have reached carrying capacity for converting our wild shorelines to industrial geoduck farms? How much is enough?”  

I have not even addressed the issue of pollution runoff from our roads. To fix that  known problem (recent scientific studies at the UW have shown 100% death rates on salmon exposed to rain runoff from roads like 520), would take far more money and time than the Orca have left. At least we can start that though sooner than later.

Are we serious about making the enormously unpopular and painful changes we need to save the Orca? While I have no doubt that Commissioner Hanke, who makes his living running a whale watch business is serious about wanting to save the Orca, jumping to poorly considered assumptions is just condemning them to an even faster end.


JeffCo Democrats to hear about orca protection at annual Fish Feast Aug. 19

It is one of the beauties of small town living that you can actually get to know politicians and them know you. This year, the Jefferson County Democrats will be holding their annual Fish Feast at the County Fairgrounds as usual. Having been at these in the past, they are a great way to meet like minded neighbors, pigeonhole politicians and present a short bit about issues you care about, have some good locally made food, and hear from State politicians on what they are doing with your tax dollars. Additionally, there will be discussions on the upcoming election, along with the efforts of the state Democratic party to win key seats in such districts as the 8th (East Side King County to Wenatchee), Spokane’s 5th, and the Vancouver WA district. All are going to be very close battles given the outcomes of the primaries. 

Hilary Franz, Washington’s commissioner of public lands, is expected to update Jefferson County Democrats about actions by her department to protect southern-resident orca in Puget Sound. Recent pictures and videos of a mother orca carrying her dead calf for days have captured public attention around the world.


Franz will be the keynote speaker during the JeffCo Democrats’ 24th annual Fish Feast at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds, Erickson Building, 4907 Landes St. Doors open at 4 p.m. for refreshments and socializing, followed by dinner at 5:30 p.m., and speeches by Franz and others.

The Department of Natural Resources headed by Franz is part of a task force on orca recovery that Gov. Jay Inslee established in March. The task force is charged with examining the threats and conditions that have depleted the southern-resident killer whales and then recommending a recovery program.

(Also, I am board chairman of the non-profit Sound Action that is also represented on one of the task force subcommittees by our Executive Director, Amy Carey.)

The state DNR manages and protects nearly 6 million acres of forest, range, agricultural, aquatic, and commercial lands for more than $200 million in annual financial benefit for public schools, state institutions, and county services. Jefferson County is in DNR’s Orca-Straits District for protecting habitat and providing public access in state-owned aquatic lands.

Also scheduled to speak are state Rep. Noel Frame of Seattle, vice chair of the House Finance Committee, discussing her work on behalf of labor, unions, small business and tax reform with a focus on the business and occupation tax. Other speakers will be the two state representatives for the 24th District (including Jefferson County), Mike Chapman and Steve Tharinger, and the Washington State Democrats chair, Tina Podlodowski.

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell has committed to the fundraiser with her financial sponsorship of a table for 20 Young Democrats. She had hoped to attend the Fish Feast but can’t because there is no August recess for the U.S. Senate.

Claire Roney, Fish Feast organizer, said the Fish Feast is the JeffCo Democrats’ major fundraiser of the year. The cost per ticket is $50. Ticket contributions support party work for Democratic causes and candidates. One dollar of each ticket is donated to the Jefferson County Fair Board. If you want cannot afford the tickets, but want to volunteer to work on the event in the kitchen or serving, there is a limited set of tickets for volunteers. Contact the number below for more information.

Tickets may be purchased online at https://jeffcodemocrats.com/fish-feast-2018/. For more information, call or text 360-379-5655.

The menu includes sockeye salmon from Key City Fish, BBQ by Dos Okies’ Larry Dennison, shellfish courtesy of Taylor Shellfish, Port Townsend Brewing Co. beers, Pane d’Amore rolls, greens and veggies from local farms, wine from the Wine Cellar, and cake.





Dems maintain control in Peninsula primaries

If there was any question about whether the Democrats (and Democratic incumbents at that) would maintain control of offices here on the Olympic Peninsula, that was pretty much laid to rest with the outcome of the primaries.

Senator Maria Cantwell (against a vast array of challengers), U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer,  State Representatives Tharinger and Chapman, all easily shook off the opposition, by very large percentages. In the hotly contested 5th District of Spokane, the race against the incumbent Republican Sally McMorris Rogers against newcomer Lisa Brown is in a virtual dead heat. Democrats from across the state have converged on Spokane to get out the vote, and they obviously succeeded. The November race will be one of the most closely watched in the country, along with likely being one of the most expensive as both parties will pour the money in to hold or win the seat. Obviously, the shenanigans in the White House and Congress did not help Ms. Rogers.

The 8th district is going to be tough. Dino Rossi easily overcame any opposition, and the Dems are going to have to coalesce behind their candidate, who at this moment appears to be Pediatrician Kim Schrier. However that race is too close to call at this moment.

In the usually Republican safe district 3,Jaime Herrera Beutler ran against the two Democratic opponents, Carolyn Long who brought in 36.1% of the votes and David McDevitt won 8.1% of the vote. If the Democrats can iron out their differences and show up to vote as a block in November, they should win.

Clallam County, which went for the President in the last election, decidedly shifted back to blue with the primary.  Republican candidates did very poorly in voter turnout. Democratic incumbents easily crushed Republican numbers.

In Jefferson County’s third district, the south part of the county, Greg Brotherton, a well liked owner of businesses, won over Ryan McCallister for the chance to run against Jon Cooke, the Republican challenger.

The Jefferson County Democratic faction called the “Progressives” did not succeed in their attempt to take over the  Jefferson County Democrats, as a majority of  the “Back on Track” Democratic Precinct Committee Officers (PCOs) won the precincts that they needed to win by approximately 21 to 38 (some are still too close to call).  The “Back on Track” faction is primarily those Democrats who have successfully destroyed Republican candidates for a decade, delivered Jefferson County to Obama twice, Bernie Sanders in the primaries, and then successfully delivered the county to Hilary Clinton, which angers some of the Bernie supporters, who felt that because they had won the primary in 2016 and Hillary lost (although she won the popular vote both in WA and nationwide, only losing in a few states that had nothing to do with the local Dems), that they were entitled to take control of the local party. That’s the backstory of why you saw more PCO candidates this year than ever before in the history of the county.

The tactics of the “progressives” appeared to turn off a lot of Democratic voters. Having been at a few Democratic meetings, the take no prisoners attitude and lack of decorum shown at the monthly meetings by some of their supporters seemed better suited to the rough and tumble world of Seattle politics, rather than the laid back nature of Jefferson County.  Hopefully both  factions will  hold hands in a circle and sing  “Kumbaya” at the annual Fish Fry.  Sitting back and not participating because your candidate didn’t win is not an option.  All hands are needed on deck in November to ensure that environmental and human rights protections are retained in WA DC, against the onslaught of the current administration. There is  no time left to stop man made global warming. The goal now is to start to understand how to live with it, along with how to help the climate refugees of Puerto Rico, Redding,  Santa Rosa, and many other locations burning up in this country.  For all we know, we may be next. The Republicans would do well to own up to global warming destroying the lives and homes of their constituents (Redding went heavily for Rs in the last election, including the President). Why not create a war on carbon based global warming? We’ve crushed ISIS. We are in an endless war on terror. The next endless war should be with anything involved in using the internal combustion engine or coal. That will last a lifetime or two.

Other news is that Joe Nole trounced Sheriff Stanko. This was perhaps the surprise of the election.  His common sense approach to tackling the issues of the sheriff’s department and concerns of collusion between the sheriff’s office and ICE was on the minds of voters.

Kennedy beat Haas for prosecutor’s office.  Kennedy very successfully pointed out that he had quit the office and went to work for Clallam County (while still living in Jefferson) and wanted to bring back what he considered better management of the office. Apparently voters agreed.

Kudos need to go out to State Democratic chairperson Tina Podlowski, who tirelessly hammered away at Washington Democrats to donate and get out the vote. Locally, the Democratic party at many levels, both “Progressives”and  the “Back on Track” people all did huge efforts to get out the vote for their candidates, which helped overall turnout. While some lost and some won, democracy was affirmed by the large voter turnout in Jefferson County. It is hard to say you didn’t have someone to vote for that could affirm your point of view, whatever it was. And a reminder that some of the greatest politicians our country has ever seen, from many political perspectives, were losers at least once. Losing in politics only means that your tactics and timing were off. Maybe next time they will align. No hard feelings. This is politics. Someone always loses. Figure out why. Then fix it.







Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change – The NY Times

If you read only one article all year, this is it. We have known for decades and our inaction has spelled disaster.  We can no longer stop man made global warming, now the job is to figure out how to survive it.


Europe and the effects of climate change.-NY Times

It is always difficult when you were in the eye of the storm to understand the scope of how big the store might actually be. Here is a good overall round up of the effects of climate change on Europe this year.

No matter what happens to try to reverse this we are facing long-term affects that will have a massive change to where we live as well. The summer fire season in both Washington state and Canada as well as the areas of northern California is already well-documented. Will be interesting to see what effects happen to the farmers of Eastern Washington with the temperatures as hot as they have been. and on the Horizon is the hurricane season in the Atlantic.


Congress Voting To Let More Sea Lions Be Killed To Protect Salmon – KNKX

The drumbeat to kill ‘nuisance’ sea lions to protect the dwindling runs of salmon in the NW continues, with Senator Maria Cantwell joining the bandwagon by putting forward legislation in the Senate to lower the paperwork restrictions to allow culling of any sea lion deemed to be a problem.

Whether killing hundreds (the likely number is unknown) of sea lions around the Bonneville dam and other locations will allow a significant number of salmon to make it back up river to spawn is anyones guess.

The whole situation seems to be pointing to made to order for the current Republican administration. Rather than providing greater opportunities for salmon to spawn, by removing dams that block their return (thereby creating the very situation that causes the sea lions to show up to eat) or allowing more water to be carried over the dams (not favored by farmers and freight haulers), or restricting more development along rivers (not favored by developers), the legislature goes after simply killing off animals in the hope that more won’t just show up to fill the gap. Not sure that nature works that way. It abhors a vacuum, and hungry sea lions showed up because food was abundant, not scarce. While salmon runs all along the west coast are struggling, it’s clear that the sea lions are going to go where the food is plentiful. And of course, as global warming engulfs us, due to our insatiable appetite for fossil fuel, which the administration refuses to even acknowledge, the river flows are going to get less, not more. It’s just more pretzel logic.

As reported on this blog just a day or so ago, Canadian scientists nixed this idea, saying that there was not a noticeable increase in sea lions due to salmon being present.

In a clash of protected species, Pacific Northwest members of Congress are coming down in favor of salmon. The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee is scheduled to vote Thursday morning to make it easier to kill sea lions who feast on Columbia and Willamette River salmon and steelhead.

Read or listen to the whole story here: http://www.knkx.org/post/congress-voting-let-more-sea-lions-be-killed-protect-salmon

Supreme Court rejects government motion in “climate kids” case.

Stunning loss for the Trump administration. Now the facts can be presented in court and the kids can claim damages and a threat to their “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Ours too!

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to suspend proceedings in a potential landmark climate case that pits a group of youth plaintiffs against the federal government.

The court’s decision preserves the Oct. 29 start date for a federal trial in U.S. District Court in Eugene.

Read the whole story here;


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