Blooming marvellous: drones give B.C. researchers new view of ‘enormous’ jellyfish clusters – Canadian Press

Some cool news uses for drones.

Technology is allowing researchers in British Columbia to study blooms of jellyfish and their impact on the ocean in a whole new way. UBC oceanography professor Brian Hunt and undergraduate student Jessica Schaub have been using drones to get a better picture of the size and composition of clusters of moon jellyfish off B.C.’s central coast. Images from cameras soaring high above the ocean provide a bird’s-eye view that can’t be replicated on the water, Hunt said. Gemma Karstens-Smith reports. (Canadian Press)

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/jellyfish-blooms-bc-1.4522141

State investigation finds Cooke’s negligence was primary cause of Atlantic salmon net pen collapse

NEWS RELEASE

Washington Department of Natural Resources -Washington Department of Ecology -Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

January 30, 2018

OLYMPIA – State investigators have determined that an excessive buildup of mussels and other marine organisms on nets – caused by Cooke Aquaculture’s failure to properly clean them – led to the August 19 collapse of the company’s net pen at Cypress Island.

An investigative report – authored by the departments of Natural Resources (DNR), Ecology, and Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) – found that 110 tons of mussels and plants had accumulated on the nets before the incident. The report was released today at a news conference in Olympia.

The investigation determined that tidal currents pushing against the tremendous mass of organisms on the nets overwhelmed the pen’s mooring system and crushed the pen.

Extensive corrosion of the net pen structure also contributed to the collapse.

In addition, the agencies identified shortcomings in engineering practices that likely contributed to the failure.

Properly designed and maintained net pens would have withstood the tidal currents of August 19.

“The collapse was not the result of natural causes,” said Hilary Franz, Commissioner of Public Lands. “Cooke’s disregard caused this disaster and recklessly put our state’s aquatic ecosystem at risk.”

“The results of our investigative report clearly show a significant violation of Washington’s water quality laws,” said Ecology Director Maia Bellon. “Cooke Aquaculture could have prevented this failure.”

“Cooke made this situation even more difficult by under-reporting the number of fish that escaped during the net-pen collapse, and over-reporting the number it recovered afterward,” said Amy Windrope, WDFW’s north Puget Sound regional director.

Growth of mussels and other marine organisms on nets – called “biofouling” – is documented in state agency videos that show a “rain” of mussels falling off nets as debris from the collapse was removed.

The severe biofouling produced 110 tons of material – an average of 11 tons per net.

Cooke’s Failure to Act

Prior to the collapse, Cooke was aware of both the excessive biofouling and the poor condition of the facility.

The report details how Cooke didn’t follow its net pen cleaning schedule when broken net washers were not repaired or replaced. This allowed mussels to accumulate on the nets, which increased the drag from currents and added pressure to the structure.

Cooke also failed to take necessary precautions after the net pens were moved out of position in July when strong currents broke ten mooring points.

Cooke documents show that after the July incident, the company had serious concerns about the facility. An internal company email stated, “We almost lost the farm.”

Nevertheless, after the July incident, Cooke considered, but did not:

·         Replace the biofouled nets,

·         Begin their salmon harvest early, or

·         Increase monitoring of the net pens and have a tug on standby when strong currents were again expected on August 19.

The report notes that state agencies did not investigate the July incident because they received incomplete and misleading information from Cooke.

More Salmon Escaped Than Cooke Reported

The report also found that Cooke misrepresented the number of fish it harvested when the pen collapsed. According to the report:

  • There were 305,000 fish in the net pen prior to failure.
  • Cooke reported harvesting/extracting 145,000 fish from the collapsed net pen.
  • The investigation concluded that Cooke could only have extracted between 42,000 and 62,000 fish.
  • Therefore, between 243,000 and 263,000 fish actually escaped. Previous estimates, based on Cooke’s reports, put the number of escaped fish at 160,000.
  • Of the escaped fish, 57,000 have been caught.
  • Between 186,000 and 206,000 Atlantic salmon remain unaccounted for.

The report concludes that monitoring through the winter and next fall’s salmon run season will be critical to knowing if any escaped Atlantic salmon remain in Washington’s waters and if they are reproducing.

Commissioner Franz is currently reviewing the report and will make an announcement about the future of the Cypress Island facility in the coming days.

In December, DNR terminated Cooke’s lease of state aquatic lands in Port Angeles, citing a failure to maintain the facility in a safe condition.

Ecology intends to take enforcement action against Cooke Aquaculture for violating Washington’s water quality laws.

This multi-agency report included information collected during and after the incident, interviews with Cooke staff, and an engineering review of the failure.

More documents and information is available at www.dnr.wa.gov/atlanticsalmon.

# # #

MEDIA CONTACTS
Carlo Davis

Communications Director

Department of Natural Resources

Office: 360-902-1101

Cell: 360-999-9165

carlo.davis@dnr.wa.gov

Pesticides and salmon: Can we see a light at the end of the tunnel? – Watching Our Water Ways

Once again, the National Marine Fisheries Service has determined in official findings that three common pesticides — chlorpyrifos, diazinon and malathion — raise the risk of extinction for threatened and endangered salmon. By extension, for the first time, the agency also concluded that those same pesticides threaten Puget Sound’s endangered orca population by putting their prey — chinook and other salmon — at risk. This politically and legally charged issue — which has been around for more than 15 years — has gone beyond a debate over potential harm from pesticides. It also raises uncomfortable questions about whether our society will follow science as we try to solve environmental problems. Chris Dunagan reports. (Watching Our Water Ways)

https://pugetsoundblogs.com/waterways/2018/01/16/pesticides-and-salmon-can-we-see-a-light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel/

“Not all net pens are created equal” Jamestown S’Klallam weigh into the debate

We have a historic opportunity to end Atlantic net pen aquaculture in the U.S. Salish Sea (Puget Sound, The Strait of Juan de Fuca, Hood Canal, etc.). The bills moving through the State legislature right now have momentum, strong citizen backing, and likely something will pass. Voices that need to be heard, and are weighing in on this issue, are those of the Tribes,  who co-manage the aquaculture resources in the State, as well as use them for religious purposes. If you learn anything from working with them, remember this: The Tribes are not a single voice, but many voices. Recently, Kurt Grinnell weighed in on behalf of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe. Kurt has been managing the Tribes aquaculture resources for many years. I have personally worked with Kurt in filming for the Tribe over many years for “Voices of the Strait” and “Treaty Resources”. I respect his point of view. Some may differ from him. But Kurt brings decades of real world experience in managing resources. He is a person that has embraced technology and innovation. He understands markets and the environment.

Our role right now is to finish the work in ending the in water farming of Atlantic salmon in these waters. Whether the technology of net pens is valid or not, should not be the issue. We need to get these non native fish out of our waters first. Kurt’s points, in the article below, are that perhaps there is a place for the technology of net pens in the future. Likely, in my opinion, it will be upland, closed containers, as that technology matures (which it is not, today).  Let’s focus on the goal at hand, rid our waters of this non native fish, and then focus on whether the technology can be used effectively or not. Maybe it can’t. But I’m willing to continue to favor letting Kurt and the Jamestown S’Klallam work to find out if it can.

http://www.sequimgazette.com/opinion/point-of-view-not-all-net-pens-are-created-equal/

The question is whether we want to import fish from countries where farmed seafood is unregulated, or whether we want to do our due diligence and use the best that science and technology have to offer in order to grow fish safely and sustainably in our own country.

I suggest that anyone wanting to see more about what the Jamestown S’Klallam are doing to research new ways of doing aquaculture take a moment and view the short film I did a few years ago for them on the Point Whitney facility.

Sen. Doug Ericksen staying in Olympia, won’t join Trump administration – Tacoma News Tribune

State Sen. Doug Ericksen said Monday he will not join the Environmental Protection Agency, contradicting a federal official who said the Ferndale Republican had been appointed to the agency. An executive assistant for Chris Hladick, the regional administrator for the Pacific Northwest and Alaska Region told the Bellingham Herald on Friday that Ericksen was to be the senior adviser to the Region 10 administrator in Seattle. On Monday, Ericksen said that information was incorrect…. Ericksen largely declined to give details about whether he was offered the job and specifically turned it down. But he said he has had “job offers over the past year” from the Trump administration he decided not to take. Ericksen said he plans to run for reelection to the state Senate in 2018. Walker Orenstein reports. (Tacoma News Tribune)

http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/politics-government/article193588434.html

 

UPDATE: Washington state Sen. Doug Ericksen appointed to EPA post in Seattle- Bellingham Herald

This article in the Bellinham Herald has been denied by State Senator Ericksen. No announcement at this moment on who will be heading Region 10 of the EPA. 

The cynical abuse of power by the Trump administration continues with no let up in sight. Appointing politicians who have spent their careers denigrating the various bureaucracies they now are placed in charge of, with the marching orders to shrink, gut and cut any power that these agencies have to do their jobs. Doug Erickssen is one such politician who has made it clear he hates the EPA.

As reported in Oregon Live.com “The work of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency? It raises “the cost of operations so high that too many businesses are closing and too few new businesses are opening up.”

According to the Seattle PI – “The EPA under Trump has dismantled regulations and withdrawn efforts under the Clean Water Act to block a huge proposed mine in Alaska adjoining two of Bristol Bay’s major salmon producing rivers.”

Candidate Donald Trump said at the debate of March 3rd, 2016,” Department of Environmental Protection. We are going to get rid are of it in almost every form. We’re going to have little tidbits left but we’re going to take a tremendous amount out.”

State Sen. Doug Ericksen has been appointed to a new job as the senior adviser to the Region 10 administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency in Seattle. He will start his position some time in the near future, according to the executive assistant for Chris Hladick, the regional administrator for the Pacific Northwest and Alaska region. The Ferndale Republican, in an email, neither confirmed nor denied that he had a new job with the EPA. Kie Relyea reports. (Bellingham Herald)

http://www.bellinghamherald.com/news/local/article193252109.html

So is this what Washington State Republican voters expected?

WA state legislators file “Salish Sea Protection Act”

Washington State Senator Kevin Ranker and others have pre-filed the “Salish Sea Protection Act”.  We will be tracking the progress of this bill as it moves through the legislature.

The Salish Sea Protection package of new legislation, prefiled for the 2018 legislative session, will commit the state to improving oil spill response, strengthening protections of orca whales, banning aquaculture farming of invasive species, and prioritizing contamination cleanup to prevent stormwater runoff and increase affordable housing.

Salish Sea Protection Act

This legislation will fully fund Washington State oil spill prevention and response activities, update our critical, geographical response plans, research tug escorts and rescue tugs for all vessels carrying millions of gallons of oil and significantly increase coordination our with our Canadian neighbors. A second bill will move to establish a new, permanent Emergency Response Tug, as well as requirements for tug escorts for oil tankers, oil barges, and ATBs operating in Puget Sound.

Orca Whale Protection Act

With the Puget Sound resident orca population dropping to its lowest level since 1984, including the deaths of several juvenile whales, immediate action is needed before these whales enter a “death spiral” in which extinction is inevitable. This legislation dramatically increases enforcement of orca whale protection laws – providing for permanent dedicated enforcement vessel, while increasing support for salmon production and restoration and calls for a trans-boundary discussion of orca whale protection and preservation.

Atlantic salmon net pens

The crisis we face due to the escape of hundreds of thousands of invasive Atlantic salmon from the Cooke Aquaculture net pen failure last year is alarming. Subsidizing an industry that is using our public marine waters for profit while eroding our environment and local economies is no longer acceptable. This legislation eliminates all new leases and permits for invasive Atlantic salmon net pens as well as net pens for other nonnative finfish. It also requires strengthening oversight guidelines for existing net pen operations based upon updated scientific information, as the current regulations are more than 25 years old.

MTCA accounts and cleanup program

This legislation increases focus of toxic cleanups of nearshore environments and marine waters. This legislation includes provisions to speed up cleanups of contaminated properties.

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