New film about spring Chinook delves into history, culture and science in unique habitats – PSI

Worth a watch!


A new film, titled “The Lost Salmon,” opens with a video montage that takes us through some wondrous scenes: A wide aerial shot of California’s majestic Salmon River, moving to an underwater view of salmon swimming through the clear water and then to an action spectacle of wild salmon practically flying through the air to surmount a rushing cascades. Christopher Dunagan reports. (Puget Sound Institute) 

Returning home: The Elwha’s genetic legacy-Salish Sea Currents Magazine

Excellent series by long time Northwest journalist Christopher Dunagan

Following dam removal, migratory salmon have been free to swim into the upper Elwha River for the first time in 100 years. Their actual behaviors and reproductive success may well be driven by changes in their genetic makeup. Our seven-part series ‘Returning home’ examines how the fish are doing and whether the Elwha’s genetic legacy remains intact. 

Salish Sea Currents

Returning home: The Elwha’s genetic legacy | Encyclopedia of Puget Sound (eopugetsound.org)

Causeway removal meant big jump in juvenile salmon – AP

Good news from the work done by North Olympic Salmon Coalition (NOSC) and the State.

Only six juvenile salmon were found during seining in the five years before the bridge opened. During this year’s seining, over two days in May, volunteers netted close to 1,000 juvenile salmon

https://www.knkx.org/environment/2022-06-06/causeway-removal-meant-big-jump-in-juvenile-salmon

Ediz Hook enhanced for salmon, public use – NWTTM

Here’s an update on the work at Ediz Hook in Port Angeles by the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe. They have been removing debris from the shore and planting eel grass to renew the nearshore habitat for fish and other species.

Below the surface, the tribe and partners Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and Washington Sea Grant have been restoring eelgrass beds on the sand spit’s south shore for the past four years, with greater success than expected

Northwest Treaty Tribes January 2022

Read the whole story here. https://nwtreatytribes.org/publications/magazine/

Good news, bad news for whale sightings in 2021

Reports in from Pacific Whale Watch Association that whale sightings were up was reported in The Canadian press, (CBC), as good news. It is, in totality of sightings for Biggs and humpbacks. But if you read the details, you find that Southern Resident Orcas sightings are actually down. Let’s take what we can of the positive but not be fooled into thinking we have turned around the issue of local residents. As mentioned in the article, the Biggs eat seals and sea lions, which have been overpopulating the area and eating vast amounts of food that competes with the resident southerns. (another way to think of this is that because we have depleted the salmon runs there are fewer fish to feed all the mammals that eat them). This may help balance out the food chain, but we won’t know for a number of years.

… it’s a different story for the endangered Southern Resident whales — the other principal killer whale found in the region — as their sightings dropped to a record low last year. The salmon-eating mammals were documented on just 103 days, or 28 per cent of the year.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/record-whale-sightings-2021-1.6311282

Read the whole story here: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/record-whale-sightings-2021-1.6311282

How do we stop tire debris from killing coho? NWTTM

Over the last decade science done at the UW has identified a chemical in our tires that leaches out as we drive and ends up killing salmon when it runs off into the lakes, rivers and bays of Puget Sound. This issue will require billions of dollars to fix, just as the culvert problem, created over the last 100 years of road building has done. But it must be done if we are to save coho in our waters.

This article, in the Northwest Treaty Tribes magazine does a good job of updating us on the issue and what is being done about it now.

We need to deal with these impacts immediately by filtering 6PPD-Q from
stormwater before it enters the water. The Nisqually Tribe is working with McIntyre, Long Live the Kings and the state Department of Transportation to develop a compostable biofiltration system on
Highway 7 where it crosses Ohop Creek. If we are successful, similar systems could be retrofitted along all roadways to remove this lethal, toxic chemical.

Northwest Treaty Tribes Magazine -2022 January

Read the whole story here: https://nwtreatytribes.org/publications/magazine/

Extreme Weather Threatens Salmon Recovery – NWTT Newsletter

More data coming in on the toll on salmon of last summer’s record hot weather.

After last summer’s record high temperatures and low water flow, Lummi Natural Resources staff discovered about 2,500 dead adult chinook in the South Fork Nooksack River.

Northwest Treaty Tribes Winter 2002

The NWTT newsletter is a great resource for stories on salmon recovery and other Salish Sea marine issues. This month, they include:

  • How do we stop tire debris from killing salmon?
  • Tribal Hatchery story
  • European Green Crab update
  • How beach restoration benefits Salmon and the Public
  • And the article on Climate Change Threatens Salmon Recovery

Check it out and sign up to get it yourself! Or keep reading here on the Olympic Peninsula Environmental News and we’ll give you the short story.

Canadian Federal government announces closure of most Pacific herring fisheries | CBC News

Perhaps good news for the herring stocks in B.C. as the Canadian government closes the fisheries. Herring stocks in B.C. have been in trouble for years, following mismanagement by the Federal Government, habitat destruction and over-fishing. As the article states, Indigenous Tribes on the west coast seem to be supporting this, as they have been warning about the collapse for years.

Pacific Herring (Photo by NOAA)

Most commercial fisheries for Pacific herring on the West Coast have been closed with the exception of harvests by First Nations for food and ceremonial purposes. Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray says in a statement that this “cautious” approach to Pacific herring management is based on recently intensified risks to wild salmon. Pacific herring are an important food source for salmon, sea birds, marine mammals and other fish. (Canadian Press)

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/pacific-herring-fisheries-closure-1.6289030

Northern Washington Tribes fear devastation of salmon by extreme floodwaters – KUOW

While this story is not specifically about the Peninsula, it is about issues that we faced along with the Bellingham and B.C. environment in the last month. Our rivers flooded also, just not quite as bad. As we all know, the salmon of this region are on the brink of extinction, along with our Orcas. Every year our human induced climate brings 500 year floods to already destroyed ecosystems the fish become more threatened. The Salish Sea is an ecosystem itself, what is happening to the east and north of us is tied to us by the water.

When a month’s worth of rain hit northern Washington and southern British Columbia in just a couple of days in mid-November, the resulting extreme flows scoured streams and riverbeds. They flushed away gravel and the salmon eggs incubating just below the surface, likely by the millions.

KUOW

https://kuow.org/stories/northern-washington-tribes-fear-devastation-of-salmon-by-extreme-floodwaters-ffcd

Transplanted fishers released into park – PDN

Restoring species to the Peninsula continues.

A release of seven fishers from Alberta, Canada into Olympic National Park earlier this month is part of a program to increase the genetic diversity of the once-decimated native species. Five were released into the wild at Lake Ozette and two were released near Sol Duc, said Patti Happe, wildlife branch chief of Olympic National Park (ONP), on Friday. Leah Leach reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Transplanted fishers released into park (Paywall in place, you will need a subscription)

Will Reviving B.C.s declining salmon stocks require a rethink of hatcheries? – The Narwhal

Someday the people unwilling to even consider the end of hatcheries will come around to the science that is more and more frequently showing it doesn’t help.


After 150 years of experimenting, it’s becoming clear that pumping more baby fish into the ocean may actually be making the problem worse. Ryan Stuart reports…Releasing more fish into the environment might seem like an easy solution to declining numbers. But in nature, this rarely works. 

The Narwhal

https://bityl.co/9NdB

Researches make surprising discovery while tracking Chinook.

A controversial finding in recent chinook research.

Researchers made a surprising discovery while tracking Chinook salmon in both the foraging areas of endangered southern resident orcas and the growing, healthy population of the northern resident orcas in B.C. In a study published last week in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, the researchers stated they expected to find the robust population of northern residents fat with fish, and the southern residents stuck with lean pickings. Instead, the team found four to six times the density of big Chinook in the area they tested in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, part of the southern residents’ core foraging area, compared with the area they sampled in the northern residents’ territory, in the Johnstone Strait. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

https://bit.ly/3FWT9ka

Conservation Groups Challenge Washington’s Artificial “Fix” to  Southern Resident Killer Whale and Salmon Recovery 

This in from the Wild Fish Conservancy. After trying to move the needle with the WDF&W they have decided that the courts need to get involved. The State should not be allowed to ignore the very laws that it imposes on everyone that lives here, simply to try scientifically dubious efforts to appease special interest groups. To be clear, see the items I’ve boldfaced below to highlight the criticality of this lawsuit.


October 13, 2021— This week, conservation organizations Wild Fish Conservancy and The Conservation Angler  filed suit against the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for its repeated refusal to follow state  environmental laws when setting statewide hatchery policy, including when it recently embarked upon a massive  expansion in the production of hatchery salmon that could cause irreparable damage to fragile wild fish  populations and to endangered Southern Resident killer whales. 

Filed in King County Superior Court, the lawsuit alleges that the Department has been ignoring the requirements  of the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) since 2018, when it suspended key components of a science-based  hatchery reform policy designed to prevent state hatcheries from continuing to contribute to the decline of wild  populations of salmon and steelhead and from impeding their recovery. This significant action to abandon  science-based hatchery reform was taken without any public notice and was widely criticized, including in a  letter signed by 77 prominent fisheries and orca scientists and advocates, who called on Governor Inslee to  reinstate the science-based policy recommendations and another letter delivered to the Washington legislature by  five former Fish and Wildlife Commissioners responsible for implementing the hatchery reform policy in the  early 2000’s. 

After neutralizing the safeguards provided by this hatchery reform policy, the lawsuit alleges, the Department  began to massively increase hatchery production of Chinook, coho, and chum salmon at state run facilities,  purportedly to provide more food for Southern Resident killer whales. However, the Department did not support its hatchery expansion plan with any evidence that the Southern Resident killer whales would actually eat or be  sustained by hatchery salmon. Killer whale scientists agree the whales subsist primarily upon older and larger  Chinook that are found almost exclusively in the native Chinook populations that hatcheries have failed to  produce, protect, or restore.  

Even worse, the Department refused to engage in the SEPA process, including drafting an environmental impact  statement that would have assessed any and all potential adverse impacts of the proposed hatchery expansion on  both threatened wild salmon and steelhead populations and on the starving Southern Resident killer whales.  Hatcheries have long been recognized as one of the four primary threats to wild fish populations.  

“The Department took a big gamble, with the only certain payoff going to Washington’s fishing industry, while  all the risks are borne by our orcas and wild salmon populations,” said David Moskowitz, Executive Director of  The Conservation Angler. “But state environmental law does not allow the Department to risk the future of our  fish and wildlife on such an unproven strategy—it requires our agencies to make well-informed decisions based  

on a careful analysis of the potential adverse environmental impacts of their actions.” 

In 2020, at the same time the Department was actively implementing massive hatchery increases without  environmental scrutiny, the Department released a report titled ‘A review of hatchery reform science in  Washington State’ that found “hatcheries have potential for large magnitude ecological impacts on natural  populations that are not well understood, not typically evaluated and not measured” and that “…a focus on  efficiency and maximizing abundance prevents widespread implementation of risk reduction measures.”  

What’s more, the report recommended that prior to increasing hatchery programs, more environmental review  was necessary to evaluate cumulative hatchery effects and to ensure increases wouldn’t harm wild fish recovery,  warning large-scale hatchery production “can magnify the political pressure to take advantage of abundant  hatchery runs at the expense of natural populations” and concluding that increasing program size can raise both  “ecological and genetic risks”. The authors warned that “a rigorous justification for program size is essential for  implementing scientifically defensible hatchery programs.” 

“No doubt, many people supported the state’s ‘Orca Prey Initiative’ with the best of intentions, because it  was presented to the public as a scientifically-credible and rigorously vetted solution to feeding the  starving population of Southern Resident killer whales. The problem is that scientists know that producing  more hatchery fish is not going to solve the problem, and will likely make this crisis worse”, said Kurt  Beardslee, Executive Director of Wild Fish Conservancy. 

“As ridiculous as it sounds, reducing overharvest of the whales’ primary food wasn’t even considered as  an acceptable solution by the Governor’s Southern Resident Orca Task Force and other resource managers.  Instead, the plight of the Southern Residents provided an opportunity for powerful commercial and  recreational fishing interests to push for massive increases in hatchery production, putting our orcas and  wild salmon at even greater risk”, Beardslee says. 

### 

Wild Fish Conservancy is a conservation ecology organization dedicated to conservation, protection, and  restoration of wild fish ecosystems in the Pacific Northwest. wildfishconservancy.org 

The Conservation Angler fights for the protection of wild Pacific anadromous fish populations throughout the  Northwest, all the way to Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula. theconservationangler.org 

Wild Fish Conservancy and The Conservation Angler are represented in this matter by Animal & Earth  Advocates, PLLC of Seattle, Washington.

Orcas off Point-No-Point

Reader Wendy Feltham sent in these photos she took Thursday as she was bird watching at Point-No-Point. These are J-Pod, according to the OrcaNet.

Inslee says Lower Snake River dams report should be ready by this summer. NW News Network

It will be interesting to see what conclusions this comes to. Remember, it will be coming prior to a mid term election.

The fate of the four controversial Lower Snake River dams will be a topic of study this summer. Washington politicians said they plan to weigh in then on the fate of the four controversial Lower Snake River dams. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee says a report should come out this summer on the four controversial dams on the Lower Snake River. Courtney Flatt reports. (NW News Network)

Inslee says Lower Snake River dams report should be ready this summer

Philanthropists pledge $5B to save threatened species – Washington Post

Good news for environmental organizations. More money to fund their work is always a positive step, since so many are hurting with the Pandemic. Also these wealthy Philanthropists have seen their stocks soar in the last year. Since our government gives them such low taxes, this is at least one way for them to pay back.


A group of philanthropists pledged $5 billion by 2030 to help conservation and protect biodiversity around the world. Steven Mufson reports. (Washington Post)

Philanthropists pledge $5 billion to save threatened species 

Southern resident grandmother orca ‘missing and likely dead’ – AP

More bad news for our Southern Residents.


The Center for Whale Research has declared an orca in one of the Puget Sound’s endangered southern resident killer whale pods “missing and likely dead.” Mother and grandmother L47, or Marina as she was also known, was missing from the center’s 2021 census, according to a Monday news release, and she hasn’t been spotted since Feb. 27. The 47-year-old orca “did not appear to be in particularly poor condition” in that sighting, but she was missing from surveys this summer conducted by Fisheries and Oceans Canada in the western Strait of Juan de Fuca. (Associated Press)

B.C. Sea Stars approaching extinction?

Seems hard to fathom, that we may be losing the entire species.

A new study published by the Royal Society said sea stars are getting close to extinction as waters along the west coast. Sea stars in the waters off British Columbia that died off in the billions about a decade ago are not recovering as expected, an expert says. Hina Alam reports. (The Canadian Press)

Expert says B.C. sea stars melting away because of wasting disease

Taking the Temperature of Salmon -Salish Sea Currents

Good overview of one of the most critical issues facing recovery of endangered salmon. Rising temperatures in streams.

In the Puget Sound region, elevated stream temperatures are believed to be one of the great downfalls for salmon, especially in areas where streamside vegetation has been removed by farming, forestry or development.

https://www.eopugetsound.org/magazine/taking-temperature-salmon

Cooke Aquaculture Secures Permit to Stock Risky Washington Fish Farm

From the Wild Fish Conservancy. Reproduced in it’s entirety.

Cooke Aquaculture Secures Permit to Stock Risky Washington Fish Farm
For Immediate Release, August 6, 2021


SEATTLE— Despite ongoing litigation and timing questions regarding the lease for the facility, the Washington
Department of Fish and Wildlife has granted fish farming giant Cooke Aquaculture a permit to stock its Hope Island
facility in-water net pens with steelhead.


A group of conservation groups challenged the initial permits for stocking steelhead in Cooke’s net-pens, and that
challenge will be heard by the Supreme Court of Washington in September. Fish farms can degrade water quality,
introduce disease to native fish populations and threaten imperiled animals like the Southern Resident orcas.
But the new permit, signed August 5 by the department, will allow for 365,000 steelhead to be transported and placed
in Cooke’s facility off Hope Island in south Puget Sound before the court’s decision.


“We feel blindsided by this fast-moving process, which could cause major environmental damage,” said Sophia
Ressler, Washington wildlife attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The stocking of this facility has the
potential to contaminate our waters and threaten the species that are so dear to our Puget Sound ecosystem.”
The lease for the facility expires in March 2022. Based on Cooke’s own timeline, this is long before the rearing of the
365,000 steelhead at this facility would be complete. Without a valid lease for this farm beyond that deadline, Cooke
would be required to remove these fish and relocate them.

“Right now, Washington’s highest court is deciding whether Cooke Aquaculture’s new project should have ever been
approved. Before the end of the year, the court could invalidate every permit granted to Cooke and require the
comprehensive environmental review demanded by Tribal Nations, elected officials and thousands of members of the
public,” said Kurt Beardslee of Wild Fish Conservancy. “This decision to approve the transport of fish into Puget
Sound net pens while the court’s decision is pending is fundamentally reckless and further demonstrates an alarming
pattern of state agencies putting the wishes of a billion-dollar industry ahead of wild salmon recovery, tribal treaty
rights and the public’s best interest.”

“The state failed the public and our imperiled wild fish when it granted these permits and allowing stocking to go
forward while our case is pending at the Washington Supreme Court is the epitome of irresponsible,” said Amy van
Saun, a senior attorney with the Center for Food Safety. “Industrial fish farming is not in the public interest.”
“We are dismayed to see the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife again greenlighting Cooke’s plans to
industrially farm steelhead in Puget Sound,” said Hallie Templeton, senior oceans campaigner and deputy legal
director at Friends of the Earth. “That this permit has been issued before oral arguments in our appeal over the
agency’s aquaculture permit is a slap in the face to all Washingtonians and the wildlife who depend on a clean and safe
Puget Sound.”

Background

Following a catastrophic failure at one of Cooke’s facilities in 2017, Washington state passed a law phasing out all
Atlantic salmon net-pen aquaculture by 2022. The permits issued by the Department of Fish and Wildlife allow Cooke
to continue operating its net pens, which are placed directly into Puget Sound waters, by growing steelhead instead of
Atlantic salmon.

During a public comment period in fall 2019, thousands of Washington citizens and organizations filed comments
with the state agency, overwhelmingly calling for the proposal to be stopped and urging the state to draft a new
“environmental impact statement” on open-water aquaculture net pens.
Instead the state wildlife department issued a permit that relied on a cursory analysis and “mitigated determination of
non significance.” The calls for deeper scrutiny came from environmental advocates, commercial fishers and anglers,
legislators, other state agencies and at least five tribal governments from the lands around Puget Sound.
Washington is the only state on the Pacific coast that permits these facilities. At the beginning of 2020, Canadian
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced plans to transition all open-water industrial aquaculture in British Columbia
to land-based facilities by 2025.

The conservation groups that brought this challenge are represented by Kampmeier & Knutsen, PLLC and by
attorneys at the Center for Food Safety and Center for Biological Diversity.
Additional Information:
• Open Brief (filed 2-11-20)
• More Information on the Lawsuit (press release 11-23-20)
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places. http://www.biologicaldiversity.org Wild Fish Conservancy is a nonprofit conservation ecology organization headquartered in Washington State and dedicated to preserving, protecting and restoring the northwest’s wild fish and the ecosystems they depend on, through science, education and advocacy. For more information: http://www.wildfishconservancy.org
Center for Food Safety’s mission is to empower people, support farmers, and protect the earth from the harmful impacts of industrial agriculture, including aquaculture. Through groundbreaking legal, scientific, and grassroots action, we protect and promote your right to safe food and a healthy, resilient environment.
Friends of the Earth fights to create a more healthy and just world. Our current campaigns focus on promoting clean energy and solutions to climate change, ensuring the food we eat and products we use are safe and sustainable, and protecting marine ecosystems and the people who
live and work near them

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