Puget Sound Days on the Hill -Puget Sound Partnership

We’d like to remind you to register by 1:59 p.m. Pacific Time tomorrow, Thursday, May 6, for the third of this year’s virtual Puget Sound Days on the Hill sessions, which will be held on Friday, May 7, from 1:00–2:00 p.m. Pacific Time, hosted by the Puget Sound Partnership and the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission.

Please click here to register for the May 7 session. The confirmation email will provide the unique Zoom link for the session. 

At this session, we’ll discuss Puget Sound restoration and protection, salmon recovery efforts, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and infrastructure, among other topics, with Representative Dan Newhouse. We will also host a panel discussion, “What’s Happening in D.C.?,” with Morgan Wilson, director of Governor Inslee’s office in Washington, D.C., and Rich Innes of the Meridian Institute. Wilson and Innes will discuss the appropriations process and give an overview of potential upcoming legislation, such as the infrastructure package.

Representative Newhouse will speak for about 25 minutes, including a Q&A component, beginning at 1:30 p.m.

Advance registration is required.

We will send regular announcements with confirmed speakers for the week as well as a registration link for each event. You can also check https://www.psdoth.org for the latest information.


Week 3:

Friday, May 7, 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. Pacific Time

With Representative Dan Newhouse and panelists Morgan Wilson (Governor Inslee) and Rich Innes 

The Good News: Puget Sound Herring

Good primer and update on herring stocks in the Salish Sea. By my friends at the Rainshadow Journal.

Washington’s Crabby New Resident

Good overview of the current situation on the fight against the latest invasive species, the Green Crab. 

Researchers, tribes and volunteers work to fight the rising tide of European green crabs on Washington shores.
Morgan MacIntryre reports. (The Planet Magazine)

https://theplanetmagazine.net/washingtons-crabby-new-resident-a669170b819e

NW scientist taps into personalities, diets to help sunflower sea stars shine again – KNKX

In December, sunflower sea stars were declared critically endangered by an international union of scientists…But there is hope. Pockets of healthy populations of sunflower sea stars still exist in parts of the Salish Sea. And a scientist working at the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Labs on San Juan Island is pioneering new techniques to breed them in captivity. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KNKX)

Endangered predators and endangered prey: Seasonal diet of Southern Resident killer whales – PLOS One

New research out regarding Southern Resident killer whales and their needs for chinook. Very good research here, based on scat samples over long periods of time.

Abstract

Understanding diet is critical for conservation of endangered predators. Southern Resident killer whales (SRKW) (Orcinus orca) are an endangered population occurring primarily along the outer coast and inland waters of Washington and British Columbia. Insufficient prey has been identified as a factor limiting their recovery, so a clear understanding of their seasonal diet is a high conservation priority. Previous studies have shown that their summer diet in inland waters consists primarily of Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), despite that species’ rarity compared to some other salmonids. During other times of the year, when occurrence patterns include other portions of their range, their diet remains largely unknown. To address this data gap, we collected feces and prey remains from October to May 2004–2017 in both the Salish Sea and outer coast waters. Using visual and genetic species identification for prey remains and genetic approaches for fecal samples, we characterized the diet of the SRKWs in fall, winter, and spring. Chinook salmon were identified as an important prey item year-round, averaging ~50% of their diet in the fall, increasing to 70–80% in the mid-winter/early spring, and increasing to nearly 100% in the spring. Other salmon species and non-salmonid fishes, also made substantial dietary contributions. The relatively high species diversity in winter suggested a possible lack of Chinook salmon, probably due to seasonally lower densities, based on SRKW’s proclivity to selectively consume this species in other seasons. A wide diversity of Chinook salmon stocks were consumed, many of which are also at risk. Although outer coast Chinook samples included 14 stocks, four rivers systems accounted for over 90% of samples, predominantly the Columbia River. Increasing the abundance of Chinook salmon stocks that inhabit the whales’ winter range may be an effective conservation strategy for this population.

Read the whole research paper here.

Endangered predators and endangered prey: Seasonal diet of Southern Resident killer whales (plos.org)

Winding down Puget Sound’s 2020 targets, as approved shellfish acreage keeps going up – PSI

A good look at the state of shellfish bed recovery over the last 10 years, as measured by the Puget Sound Partnership. This is one indicator that seems to be going in a positive direction. Of course, the goal of this is to promote the conversion of public beaches into industrial aquaculture, so it’s a mixed bag. Some day we’ll see a real discussion in the public sphere about how many acres we are going to convert to industrial aquaculture before they are all turned into off limit farms for the profit of a few large aquaculture organizations. Good reporting from the Puget Sound Institute. Worth reading.

Mission Blue and SR³ brings Hope Spot to Salish Sea

Interesting new marine hospital comes to the Pacific NW with the help of a number of non-profits from here. The head of this project appears to be Dr. Sylvia Earle one of the legends of Marine Science and environmental education. All good news.


For Immediate Release
SALISH SEA DECLARED A HOPE SPOT IN CELEBRATION OF NEW MARINE ANIMAL HOSPITAL

Executive Director and Veterinary Nurse Casey Mclean examines an elephant seal’s vital signs. NOAA Permit 18786

SEATTLE – February 17 – The Salish Sea has been declared a Hope Spot by international nonprofit Mission Blue in recognition of SeaLife Response, Rehabilitation, and Research (SR³) and their partners’ conservation goals to protect the local marine biodiversity. SR³ is kicking off their celebration as the Hope Spot Champions with the opening of a new marine animal hospital in Des Moines, Wash., coming soon.

Connecting the waters between Seattle, Washington and Vancouver, Canada, the Salish Sea is bursting with iconic and beloved creatures like the endangered Southern Resident killer whales and humpback whales. As the original inhabitants of the sea, these mammals called the region home thousands of years before human beings walked to draw borders between countries, build ports, and develop commercial fishing to feed the rest of the two-legged world. Today, man’s impact on the ocean has created increasing threats for marine wildlife in the Pacific Northwest.



Dr. Sylvia Earle, Founder of Mission Blue, says, “The Salish Sea holds immensely important biodiversity. This body of water has provided the residents of Seattle up to Vancouver with vital natural resources for millennia. We must act now if we want to protect the ocean and its inhabitants from the destructive effects of human interference. I want to thank SR³ and their partners for their important work in marine animal research and rehabilitation – it’s so important that people are aware of the creatures that they share the ocean with. If the whales, seals and dolphins aren’t healthy, humans won’t be healthy, either.”

Casey Mclean, Hope Spot Champion and Executive Director of SR³, explains how marine animals serve as important indicators of ocean health and of environmental changes that can impact humans. She elaborates, “From warming ocean waters to entanglements, marine animals are increasingly suffering.” She continues, “Without a specialized marine wildlife hospital in the region, many sick and injured animals are left without hope for survival. It also limits our ability to gain insights that would drive protections for many more animals.”

From injured seals to entangled whales, SR³ works to ensure that struggling marine animals receive the expert help they need. Their SeaLife Rescue Center – the first marine wildlife specialty hospital in the Pacific Northwest – is opening soon. As a community-supported nonprofit, SR³ relies on donations from individuals who wish to invest in the health of their blue backyard.

The Salish Sea is home to some of the largest and longest-lived marine species on Earth, including the North Pacific giant octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini), the giant Pacific chiton (Cryptochiton stelleri), the largest barnacle (Balanus nubilus), plumose anemone (Metridium senile), the largest sea anemone, cabezon, lion’s mane jellyfish, and 25 species of rockfish that have life spans of 50-200 years.

Protecting the animals of the Salish Sea will benefit the entire ecosystem – regardless of human boundaries. New conservation policies and activities can draw attention to the many rivers and streams that feed into the sea that are in desperate need of habitat restoration and protection.

Cristina Mittermeier, internationally acclaimed wildlife photographer, Managing Director and Co-founder at SeaLegacy, describes SeaLegacy’s work as a Hope Spot partner. “If we want to live in a healthy and abundant Salish Sea, we must first imagine what that looks like. With images and stories, SeaLegacy is inviting us to imagine a different balance between business and nature. If we can ignite an imagined future in which orcas are thriving, fish populations are revered, coastal communities re-engineer their economies to sustain tourism instead of squandering our finite resources, and the knowledge and rights of the First Nations of this land are honored, then I am sure we can turn the hope encapsulated in the idea of this Hope Spot, into a reality we can gift the next generation.”


Mclean elaborates, “By teaching people how their everyday actions are connected to local marine health – and ultimately their own health – we can make the Pacific Northwest a safer and healthier home for marine animals – and for all of us!”
        
“We live, work and play near and in these waters and recognize that the region is on the brink of something incredible. We can achieve a resilient, sustainable, and healthy Salish Sea by bringing together diverse voices, building a movement around a shared ocean ethic, and by igniting hope,” said Dr. Erin Meyer, Director of Conservation Programs and Partnerships at the Seattle Aquarium. “Designating the Salish Sea as a Mission Blue Hope Spot connects us to communities around the world who are working together to catalyze positive change.” 
        
As SR3 delivers emergency response for sick, injured or entangled marine animals, they collect critical data in the process that helps drive broader protections. For instance, as they work to free entangled whales, responders also learn how they became entangled and work closely with fishermen and government agencies to develop ways to prevent entanglements in the future. Using drones to conduct scientific research, SR³ collects important health data that informs protections for dwindling populations such as the critically endangered Southern Resident killer whales.

SR³ and their partners believe that improving the health of the Salish Sea will require a hands-on approach from all angles. Their goals for the Hope Spot also include to deepen working relationships with local tribal entities, create a place of union between the many non-government organizations (NGOs) working to protect the life within the Salish Sea, and increasing public action for the support of legislation that impacts the Salish Sea and its inhabitants. In order to ignite the public’s response, they’re working to educate residents within the Salish Sea watershed about how its protection is critical for human health.

The Salish Sea Hope Spot partner organizations include Pacific Mammal ResearchWhale and Dolphin ConservationSeaLegacySeattle AquariumMarine Conservation InstituteOcean WiseEarth Law CenterSea SmartCoextinction FoundationPNW ProtectorsUnited and Free.

Despite the decimation of its species, the inundation of pollution from poorly planned development, and elimination of some critical habitats, the Salish Sea has survived. 

“All is not lost,” stresses Mclean. “This ecosystem is still alive. It is resilient, and we have the opportunity to restore it. Our lives and livelihoods depend on it.”


About SR³ – SeaLife Response, Rehabilitation, and Research (SR³) rescues and protects marine wildlife in the Pacific Northwest. With a marine wildlife ambulance, response vessel, and specialized veterinary staff, SR³ fills a unique role in the West Coast’s marine mammal stranding network. The organization’s expert first responders stand ready to deploy every day to ensure suffering marine animals receive the expert care they so urgently need. SR³ also works to address the root cause of marine animal health issues through scientific research projects. A major focus of this program is the endangered Southern Resident killer whales, using drones to collect health data that inform conservation actions important to their survival. The organization will open the region’s first marine wildlife specialty hospital early this year. www.sr3.org

About Mission Blue – Mission Blue inspires action to explore and protect the ocean. Led by legendary oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle, Mission Blue is uniting a global coalition to inspire an upwelling of public awareness, access and support for a worldwide network of marine protected areas – Hope Spots. Under Dr. Earle’s leadership, the Mission Blue team implements communications campaigns that elevate Hope Spots to the world stage through documentaries, social media, traditional media and innovative tools like Esri ArcGIS. www.mission-blue.org

Please contact Casey Mclean, SR³ Executive Director at casey@sr3.org or (425) 346-9798 for high resolution images, interviews or more information.

###
— 

 EMILY CRAWFORD Founder / LUMINOSITY PR
 Pronouns: she/her/hers 206.880.3977 / Emily@LuminosityPR.com
 www.LuminosityPR.com

SeaDoc Society welcomes new regional director – Islander

Good news here. SeaDoc is a critical scientific resource to our region and the world. Looks like they have hired a good one to fill this important role. Congratulations to Leigh Ann.

The SeaDoc Society has hired Leigh Ann Gilmer to fill its regional director position. She began on Feb. 1 and has hit the ground running.

Prior to joining SeaDoc, Gilmer served as executive director of Cascadia Art Museum in Edmonds, Washington, and development director and chief operating officer at Conservation Northwest. In addition, she’s held key roles at the Museum of Pop Culture and Seattle University, where she completed her master’s degree while working full time in fund development.

SeaDoc Society welcomes new regional director | Islands’ Sounder

Thane Tienson, prominent environmental lawyer from Astoria, dies at 74

A huge loss to the environmental community in the Pacific Northwest. Our condolences to his family and friends. Who’s willing to step into his huge shoes?

“He changed water rights on the John Day River in central Oregon,” Erik Tienson said. “He was just a freedom fighter for the Pacific Northwest. His life goal was to have The Dalles Dam be blown up, and restore Celilo Falls.”

Read the whole story at:

https://www.dailyastorian.com/news/local/tienson-prominent-lawyer-from-astoria-dies-at-74/article_7a98c5f2-64e2-11eb-9d42-bbdb3ac2477d.html

Court of Appeals Backs Environmentalists: Federal Greenlight of Industrial Shellfish Aquaculture Unlawful

This is the most significant court ruling in decades and likely changes everything about shellfish aquaculture in the Salish Sea. It’s importance cannot be overstated. This blog has covered the trial over the last two years. We have been astonished at the brazen lack of science applied and found during discovery of the Army Corp. of Engineers. The time has come to start applying real science to the selling off of our beaches and virgin bays, converting them to commercial aquaculture farms with no real debate or discussion on “where will this all end”. The creation of this lawsuit was a ‘hail Mary” pass by the environmental groups that brought the suit. If they had lost, likely all future attempts at stopping this insanity would have failed. Congratulations to both the lawyers at the Center for Food Safety and the Coalition To Protect Puget Sound Habitat for their efforts. This is a win for all of us.

Today, the 3-judge appellate panel unanimously agreed with the District Court, holding that the Corps failed to support its approval of NWP 48, violating the Clean Water Act and National Environmental Policy Act. Describing the Corps’ reasoning as “illogical,” the Court focused on its failure to analyze the admitted cumulative impacts of adding industrial-scale shellfish aquaculture to an already-impaired environment, and its reliance on a “limited scientific study” to justify a much broader determination of minimal impacts.

https://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/press-releases/6264/court-of-appeals-backs-environmentalists-federal-greenlight-of-industrial-shellfish-aquaculture-unlawful

Federal Judge George Boldt issues historic ruling affirming Native American treaty fishing rights on February 12, 1974

On this day, history for both the NW Tribes and all Tribes across this country changed for the better. One of the most important rulings in the history of U.S.< > Tribal relations, no matter which side of this you may have been on. For the Tribes, it showed that the legal system could work for them. For non-natives, it showed that their dominance of the fisheries and other resources was over and that “honoring the treaties” was a not just a hollow phrase. Nothing would be the same again. It also represents the only way forward if we are going to continue to build a coalition that can effectively restore the salmon runs. The Tribes have been the most effective partners in doing this work, as shown by the Jamestown, Elwa and Port Gamble S’Klallam peoples. We raise our hands in thanks for this day. We have little time left to save the runs, and the small incremental progress being made needs to accelerate.



On February 12, 1974, Federal Judge George Boldt (1903-1984) issues an historic ruling reaffirming the rights of Washington’s Indian tribes to fish in accustomed places. The “Boldt Decision” allocates 50 percent of the annual catch to treaty tribes, which enrages other fishermen. At the same time Judge Boldt denies landless tribes — among them the Samish, Snoqualmie, Steilacoom, and Duwamish — federal recognition and treaty rights. Western Washington tribes had been assured the right to fish at “usual and accustomed grounds and stations” by Federal treaties signed in 1854 and 1855, but during the next 50 years Euro-American immigrants — armed with larger boats, modern technology, and the regulatory muscle of the state — gradually displaced them. The campaign to reassert Native American fishing rights began in 1964 with “fish-ins” on the Puyallup River led by Robert Satiacum (1929-1991) and Billy Frank Jr. (1931-2014), who defied Washington state attempts to regulate their fishing. (History Link)

Federal Judge George Boldt issues historic ruling affirming Native American treaty fishing rights on February 12, 1974

Puget Sound Partnership proposing “Desired Outcomes” for ongoing ecosystem recovery – PSI

New from the Partnership, which is tasked with recovery of Puget Sound. Recovery is not going well. So they are tuning their goal setting. Probably a good thing. But reading the following from the article I worry about the words, “reduce the ongoing costs of recovery”. This comes across as another change of direction that is more worried about costs than results. But I hope I’m wrong.

The Partnership has been a mixed bag over the years. It has mainly been an organization helping large scale projects find the funding and political support they need, narrowing the group attending to what seems to be project managers and government officials. They have always lacked a serious budget to educate the population about the issues that need to change to fix the Sound. It has been underfunded to achieve the goals that it was created to solve. Many of its’ most useful pieces oddly are the monitoring it does to help identify baselines which illustrate it’s lack of progress. Certainly an agency like this is needed, but many of us wonder just how useful this particular version is to the people spending vast amounts of volunteer time attending it’s meetings. So many people have shown up with good intentions only to fade away because of what’s perceived as a lack of progress and inability to really help them achieve their goals. Could there be a better way to achieve the goals of Puget Sound Recovery? As someone who has attended many of their meetings and closely monitored their efforts since they day they were formed, I’m not being critical so much as asking the question, “when will we see real progress at saving the species at risk, and making the Sound more “swimmable, fishable and healthy?” When will we see real efforts at educating the public about this, rather than just assume that everyone is on board for making the hard choices to fix the Sound? The sad reality seems to have been that the deeper we dig into the science, the more monumental are the problems. A good case in point is the finding that road runoff may be a major contributor to the decline of salmon in the Sound. That is not an easy thing to fix quickly. . The declining populations of salmon won’t wait on a bunch of meetings to survive or not. When the Partnership set goals in 2007 to 2010, (and reset them and reset them) they were simple. Do we really need to take time to re-calibrate when the answers have been pretty clear from the beginning? Educate the public for buy in. Identify the projects needed, fund them, measure the results. Recalibrate. The goal should not be to reduce the cost of ongoing recovery. That may be impossible. We have spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to reverse the decline. If we saw runs of salmon returning in ever increasing numbers, we would be cheering the Partnership on. But we aren’t seeing the fish after 13 years of concentrated efforts. In fact, a recent report I reported on just in the last month discussed that we are losing the battle. What is the Partnership going to do to solve that issue?

If planners can agree on these general directions, the next step will be to develop individual strategies to improve the ecosystem in ways that improve the efficiency and reduce the ongoing costs of recovery. The final step is to identify individual actions in line with the strategies.



Puget Sound Action Agenda, often referred to as Puget Sound Partnership’s blueprint for ecological recovery, continues to evolve. The next Action Agenda — scheduled to go into effect a year from now — will incorporate an expanded long-range vision for Puget Sound, complete with broad-based strategies, not just near-term actions. “Desired Outcomes,” the first major component of the next Action Agenda, will be unveiled…(Thursday) before the Ecosystem Coordination Board, the wide-ranging, 27-member committee that advises the Leadership Council in its recovery oversight and strategic planning. A live video of the discussion can been viewed online, as described in the meeting agenda. “Desired Outcomes are statements that describe what we intend to accomplish — the positive change we want to see in Puget Sound,” states a fact sheet describing the next Action Agenda update. The idea is that near-term actions proposed over four years should fit into a larger vision leading to “transformational change and bold progress toward Puget Sound recovery.” Chris Dunagan reports. (Puget Sound Institute)

Puget Sound Partnership proposing ‘Desired Outcomes’ for ongoing ecosystem recovery

Puget Sound Partnership Legislative Agenda

A good way to follow and perhaps participate in the upcoming legislative session.

  leg-update

January 4, 2021
Greetings, friends of Puget Sound!   The 2021 State Legislative session will begin January 11, 2021 and run 105 consecutive days. This email contains helpful resources to navigate this unique session and opportunities to engage with the Partnership during session.    
A COVID-19 Session Here are a few helpful resources prepared by the legislature to help you navigate this unique session due to COVID-19 restrictions. Click here to download a fact sheet that describes remote access for this session. Click here to download the House COVID-19 Sessions Operation Plan. Click here for the Senate session guidelines. As always, the legislature’s website is rich with additional information to help you navigate session.    
Opportunities to engage with the Partnership During the 2021 Legislative Session, the Partnership will offer multiple opportunities to help you (and us!) stay informed about legislative activities that affect Puget Sound protection and recovery efforts.
Legislative Updates. Sent via email and posted to our website periodically during session, the Update summarizes the priority topics we’re following.
Legislative Calendar. Sent via email and posted to our website every Thursday, the Calendar lists upcoming committee meetings involving legislation and information about issues that affect Puget Sound protection and recovery. Calendars will include public hearings where testimony may be offered. Legislative Information Call-In. Jeff Parsons, our Legislative Policy Director, will conduct a call-in meeting on Fridays, from 11:30 a.m. to no later than 12:30 p.m., to review the most important legislative issues we’re following, answer questions, and discuss partner perspectives. The first call will take place this Friday, January 8, 2021. Attendees will receive an agenda each week in advance of the call, usually on Friday mornings. If you are receiving this email, you are already signed up to receive updates by email on one or more of the above topics. If you would like to verify/update your subscriptions (each of the above opportunities has a separate subscription), please click here and follow the prompts. To participate and receive agendas for the weekly calls, please send an email to Don Gourlie at don.gourlie@psp.wa.gov. (If you signed up for this last year, you are already on the list and will receive the call-in instructions and agenda before our first call). If you have questions or concerns about the legislative priorities for the Puget Sound Partnership, please contact: Jeff Parsons, Legislative Policy Director, 360.999.3803. jeff.parsons@psp.wa.gov

Thank you for your contributions to help recover and protect Puget Sound. Connect with the Puget Sound Partnership for breaking news and other events affecting Puget Sound on Twitter and Facebook.  

Puget Sound Partnership Legislative Agenda The Partnership’s Legislative Agenda supports implementation of the 2018-2022 Action Agenda for Puget Sound and reflects priorities that were established in collaboration with our partners, as well as aligning with the Governor’s operating and capital budget requests and the findings and recommendations of the Southern Resident Orca Task Force.      

New whale-watching licensing system will reduce noise, disturbance of orcas.- KNKX

Good news, it appears.


State officials have approved new rules that limit whale watch boats to a three-month season for viewing Puget Sound’s endangered killer whales. They will only be allowed from July through September. The boats may only be near the endangered orcas twice a day — two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon. And only three boats at a time near a group of the southern residents. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KNKX)

New whale-watch licensing system will reduce noise, disturbance of endangered orcas

Huge Herring Balls in San Juans

Friends of the San Juans have been keeping an eye on the waters of the islands and recently got to witness a herring event! These balls attract a huge number of predators and are a basis of much of the food for whales, birds and other fish. They have given me the ability to publish a few of their shots. With thanks to Jess Newley from Friends of the San Juans for the use of the photos! Might be a good idea to include them in your end of year giving if you can! Also thanks to Anne Schaffer of the Coastal Watershed Institute.

(an earlier version of this post incorrectly identified this as a spawning event.)

Humpback and flocks of gulls and marine diving birds (the most murrelets we’ve seen in over a decade) are just a few surface ‘tells’ of the seasonal migration underway.

Lawsuit launched over stalled habitat protection for endangered west coast orcas

It’s about time, the Trump administration has been stalling long enough.


The Center for Biological Diversity filed a notice of intent to sue the federal government today [12/16] for its failure to finalize expanded habitat protections for critically endangered Southern Resident killer whales, whose population has dipped to just 74 orcas. The National Marine Fisheries Service proposed designating 15,627 square miles of new critical habitat in September 2019. The rule would expand current protections in Washington’s Salish Sea south along the coasts of Washington, Oregon and California to Point Sur. The proposed rule followed an April 2019 court-ordered agreement after the Center sued the Trump administration in 2018 for failing to issue habitat protections required by the Endangered Species Act. The Act requires agencies to finalize proposed rules within one year. Today’s notice letter gives the Fisheries Service 60 days to comply. (Center for Biological Diversity News Release)

Lawsuit Launched Over Stalled Habitat Protection for Endangered West Coast Orcas

Victoria and surrounding municipalities are no longer dumping untreated sewage into the ocean. Vancouver Sun

It’s about time…

Horgan replied that it took “an awful lot of people over an awful lot of decades, but we finally did the right thing.”

https://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/i-was-wondering-why-the-water-looked-so-clean-victorias-sewage-treatment-plant-up-and-running

Statewide plastic-bag ban faces likely delay due to COVID-19, supply chain issues. – KNKX


A statewide ban on single-use plastic bags is supposed to take effect on Jan. 1. But proponents are asking for a six-month delay. In a letter to Gov. Jay Inslee, they cite supply-chain issues and health concerns related to COVID-19. Seven groups who supported the law have signed on to the request. Restaurants say that going ahead with the ban would be an additional burden, when they’re figuring out how to remain in business doing mostly take-out orders. And grocery stores say they’ve had trouble getting enough of the thicker plastic and paper bags they would need under the new law. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KNKX)

Statewide plastic-bag ban faces likely delay due to COVID-19, supply-chain issues

Sunflower sea stars declared critically endangered on West Coast – Hakai Institute

Another indicator moving the wrong way.


One of the largest sea star species in the world has been listed as critically endangered on Thursday after a global study shows the species population has been decimated by a marine epidemic. The sunflower sea star, once abundant in marine waters from Alaska to Baja California in Mexico, is on the brink of extinction along the West Coast waters in the United States after a marine wildlife epidemic event referred to as the sea star wasting syndrome began in 2013…Oregon State University, along with The Nature Conservancy and dozens of conservation groups, led a groundbreaking study that found 90.6% of the species population has been wiped out and estimated as many as 5.75 billion animals died from the disease since the die-off began. This has led the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to list the sunflower sea star (Pycnopodia helianthoides) as critically endangered. Monica Samayoa reports. (OPB) See also: Sunflower Stars Now Critically Endangered  Though sunflower star numbers have plummeted, scientists are holding out hope for these once-common denizens of the Pacific. (Hakai Institute)

Sunflower sea stars declared critically endangered on West Coast

Summary of 2019 Puget Sound environment from the Puget Sound Partnership

  • Short story? Too much not heading in the right direction. Some good news though. Just as a reminder, the Partnership, which was created 2007 with the goal, written into it’s legislation, “It is the goal of the state that the health of Puget Sound be restored by 2020.” Has this goal ever been updated? Not clear. It’s time to revisit that goal. A note: It takes the Partnership a year to evaluate the previous year data. So it’s to be expected, especially with the pandemic, to have this long a period between data and analysis.

The takeaways:

  • Puget Sound waters were warmer and saltier during 2019 – although not as warm as during the “blob” marine heatwave years of 2014-2016. (Unlikely something short term to fix- global issue?)
  • The increase in salinity and temperature throughout the Sound was broadly observed and substantial.Saltier than average conditions have been evident in the Sound over the past three years.
  • Regional snow pack, precipitation, and summer flows were all well below normal. (Better drive less, end fossil fuel use)
  • Atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) measurements on the Washington shelf continued their year-to-year increase in 2019 with values near the global average. (see above)
  • Pacific herring spawning biomass declined from 2018, driven mostly by a substantial decrease in the stock at Quilcene Bay, the largest in Puget Sound. (Why is this happening when the PSP has been working on this for over a decade? Was there a specific event in 2019? Over-fishing?)
  • Bottomfish biomass in 2019 was at its highest since 2014, while abundance has remained consistent since 2017, indicating larger fish. (Good news!)
  • Chinook and Chum salmon returns were particularly low during 2019. Seabird abundance and species diversity were similar to that of the previous years, while the number of forage-fish specialists was higher in the first half of the year. (Good news!)
  • Protection Island, Rhinoceros Auklet breeding effort and reproductive success returned to long-term average values in 2019 after three bad years. (Good news!)
  • Marine mammals and seabird densities during fall 2019 at the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca were low relative to the 14-year record there.
  • Southern Resident killer whales were present in the Salish Sea for fewer days than in any year from 1994–2016. None were present in June for the first time on record. (Really bad news? Nothing helping them in all that has happened in the last 10 years?)
  • Analysis of sediments across Puget Sound reveal the presence of micro-plastics in all samples collected during 2019. With no statistical change of plastic concentrations from year to year, micro-plastics have been found in every sample except one since 2014. (really bad news getting worse)
  • The number of beaches passing the swimming standard from bacterial contamination decreased by a small percentage from 2018 to 2019. (Bad news with 15 years of the Partnership working on this)

Let’s remember the goals of the Partnership since it’s founding:

The Washington State Legislature identified in 2007 six long-term ecosystem recovery goals for creating a resilient Puget Sound:

  • Healthy Human Population—A healthy population supported by a healthy Puget Sound that is not threatened by changes in the ecosystem.
  • Vibrant Quality of Life—A quality of human life that is sustained by a functioning Puget Sound ecosystem.
  • Thriving Species and Food Web—Healthy and sustaining populations of native species in Puget Sound, including a robust food web.
  • Protect and Restored Habitat—A healthy Puget Sound where freshwater, estuary, nearshore, marine, and upland habitats are protected, restored, and sustained.
  • Abundant Water Quantity—An ecosystem that is supported by good groundwater levels as well as river and stream flows sufficient to sustain people, fish, wildlife, and the natural functions of the environment.
  • Healthy Water Quality—Fresh and marine waters and sediments of a sufficient quality to support water that is safe for drinking, swimming, and other human uses and enjoyment, and which are not harmful to the native marine mammals, fish, birds, and shellfish in the region.

Want to read the details on this? Download here: https://www.psp.wa.gov/PSmarinewatersoverview.php

%d bloggers like this: