Future of orcas takes center stage at Salish Sea conference – PSI

It was worth spending even a day at the Salish Sea Conference. If you get a chance to go, you should.

Gov. Jay Inslee joined former Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to open three days of science talks at the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference in Seattle. The conference includes about 700 scientific presentations on topics ranging from orcas to habitat restoration, from climate change to toxic chemicals.

https://www.eopugetsound.org/magazine/ssec2018/opening

Navy wants to use more Washington state parks for stealth SEAL training – Seattle Times

Just say no to this insanity! Please let your state and federal representatives know how you feel.

The Navy wants to use 29 state maritime parks for stealth SEAL training, but state parks officials have yet to begin a review of the plan and say approval is no sure thing.

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/navy-wants-more-washington-state-parks-for-stealth-seal-training/?utm_source=marketingcloud&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Morning+Brief+3-12-18_3_12_2018

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

Dems support handing over land use veto to the military? Really? – State Legislation

As reported lately on the web site of the Coupeville Community Allies, Democrats in Olympia have sponsored an odd set of bills, HB 2431 and Senate bill 6456.

 

  • The bills on their surface seem to simply be adding the base commanders into the process for helping determine appropriate land use around the bases. But the criteria for the distance away from the bases is not defined. Theoretically, this could be *anywhere* in the county, given the scope of airfields and other training facilities. For instance, a proposed wilderness area could theoretically be stopped even if it’s hundreds of miles away based on base needs for overflight.

  • Given the Navy’s long demonstrated lack of real interest in anything other than it’s own needs, as demonstrated in the expansion of Whidbey Naval Base and it’s overflights in the west end of the Olympic Peninsula, it’s training flights that continue until midnight on many nights when training is in session, it’s expansion of undersea training to public beaches at all hours of the day or night as they see fit, with no ability by local officials to effectively limit it, and it’s overflights of unmuffled jets over Port Townsend and the San Juan Islands, the Navy has demonstrated that it cannot be trusted with land use decisions.
  • Base commanders should not have any right to dictate land use – this is up to the local governments and their citizens. Giving up this right to support “present and future” military missions constitutes a seizure of land use rights by the federal government, and is an inverse condemnation of public and private property.  Such actions are prohibited by Article 1, Section 18 of the Washington State Constitution, and by the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution.

Background

House Bill 2341 and Senate Bill 6546 are identical – they prioritize military land use over civilian land uses, even when properties are not adjacent to military installations.

They are backed by the Washington Military Alliance, a group of Chamber of Commerce members with four executives and a small staff.

The WMA claim that their charter is to “ensure defense industry vitality in an era of reduced defense spending.”  I am unclear of what ‘reduced” defense spending they are talking about, since the last tax bill that was passed granted even more money to defense, as did last years federal budget. We already spent approx 47% of our discretionary budget on defense and an unknown amount in our “black” budget, which the public is not entitled to see.

According to the web site, “The Balance“:

The U.S. military budget is $824.6 billion. That’s the budget for Fiscal Year 2018 which covers the period October 1, 2017 through September 30, 2018. Military spending is the second largest federal government expenditure after Social Security at $1 trillion.  U.S. military spending is larger than the next nine countries combined.

The $824 Billion is approx. $100 billion more than we spent at the height of the war in the last decade!

Full text HB2341: http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2017-18/Pdf/Bills/House%20Bills/2341.pdf

Full text SB 6456: http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2017-18/Pdf/Bills/Senate%20Bills/6456.pdf

The wording in HB2341/SB 6456 REQUIRES land use planning to incorporate any present or future missions of the military bases anywhere in the state – for any reason deemed appropriate by military base commanders. This means that the military mission trumps the local citizens’ desires. This turns local governing authority upside down. This gives veto power to a base commander over land use theoretically anywhere in the State and for any reason.The language in the bill needs to be substantially clarified, as to what constitutes “adjacent” lands in the eyes of the military.

They amend current legislation by:

  1. Making the prohibition of incompatible developments mandatory

  2. Extending the prohibition to lands that are not adjacent to the military installation

  3. Applying the prohibition to the benefit of any military installation, no matter how small

  4. Allowing the State Department of Commerce to spend up to $25 million every two years to acquire property to eliminate an existing incompatible use, or to increase the availability of housing affordable to enlisted military personnel. The criteria is that any organization receiving funds must show support for the military.

 

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/

1/19 – Meeting set in Sequim on net pen bills – PDN

You can make your voice heard. Come to this meeting and let our Representatives know what you think, and that there is public support and momentum on the Peninsula for at least two of these bills.  I don’t currently support Chapman and Tharinger’s bill. There is already plenty of science on the dangers of Atlantic salmon in net pens.  They should be supporting a ban on the use of all net pens for non native fish now, and support scientific research (like that going on in Manchester) for the possible use of limited small net pens for native fish, (for unique one off reasons like species reintroduction, etc). Also state funding and support of upland fish farming should be encouraged. It is proven to work elsewhere, but the scale to make it economically viable is difficult. We should be encouraging these efforts, and helping tribes such as the Jamestown S’Klallam to understand if it’s worth doing.

SEQUIM — Sen. Kevin Van De Wege and Rep. Mike Chapman are expected to discuss legislation dealing with Atlantic salmon net pens at a meeting in Sequim. The meeting is set from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 19 at the Sequim City Transit Center, 190 W. Cedar St.

Three bills related to net pens are making their way in the Legislature: Senate Bill 6086, House Bill 2418 and HB 2260.

SB 6086, https://goo.gl/ruyF9s co-sponsored by Van De Wege, would phase-out the pens as their leases expire.

HB 2418, https://goo.gl/Gn2UNY co-sponsored by Chapman and Tharinger, would delay construction of new nonnative fin fish aquaculture facilities until thorough study, including structural analysis of existing facilities, is complete.

HB 2260 https://goo.gl/k4h8Ln would prohibit Atlantic salmon being used in aquaculture in Washington state.

Read the whole story at:

http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/news/meeting-set-in-sequim-on-net-pen-bills/

 

What makes stormwater toxic?- Salish Sea Currents

Nice quick overview on stormwater and what is being done to better understand  and mitigate it.

Researchers are trying to determine which chemicals in stormwater are contributing to the deaths of large numbers of coho salmon in Puget Sound. It has prompted a larger question: What exactly is in stormwater anyway? Eric Wagoner reports. (Salish Sea Currents)

https://www.eopugetsound.org/magazine/is/stormwater-mystery

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