Company drops plan for $2.3B methanol plant in southwest Washington – AP

Thanks to those who stood up, used lawsuits and pressure on our legislators to end this debacle. If we are going to get to a clean energy future, we need to end the continued expansion of products and jobs that rely on them. Then there were the possible effects of shipping disasters. We are going to end up paying for this choice in higher costs of plastics we continue to use, but there is no free lunch. 

A company backed by the Chinese government on Friday ended its seven-year effort to build one of the world’s largest methanol plants along the Columbia River in southwestern Washington, following a series of regulatory setbacks and a long debate over its environmental footprint. Northwest Innovation Works proposed a $2.3 billion project to take fracked natural gas from Canada and convert it into methanol, which it would then ship to China to make ingredients for plastics used in everything from iPhones to clothing to medical devices. The state Department of Ecology denied a key permit for the project in January, saying it would create too much pollution and have negative effects on the shoreline. On Friday, the company notified the Port of Kalama it was terminating its lease, saying the regulatory environment had become “unclear and unpredictable.” Gene Johnson reports. (Associated Press)

https://www.knkx.org/post/company-drops-plan-23b-methanol-plant-southwest-washington

Lawsuit Adds New Protections and Increased Foraging Opportunity for Starving Southern Resident Killer Whales – Wild Fish Conservancy

Wild Fish Conservancy put out this update on their work last week. It is interesting to note the details of what we are told about the government desire to protect and restore wild salmon versus the actual regulations that they are creating. I’ll reproduce the whole email here. But first, why is this information important to us here? 

Our Governor and fisheries management people publicly state that they are fighting to protect wild salmon stocks. Wild Fish Conservancy spends the time to be in the meetings and review the actual laws that are being passed, both state and federal to bring these goals to a reality. 

It appears that even with the best of intentions, the goals are washed out in the process, eventually continuing the practices that have led us here, with what seems like ‘greenwashing’ the work. Why? 

That a 10 year agreement between the U.S. and Canada of over 100 pages of work governing our joint salmon stocks would not include any reference to Southern Resident killer whales or their forage needs seems more than an oversight. 

We cannot rely on government to take a strong stance in their efforts to save the wild stocks. The pressures (in terms of real dollars) on them are too great to expect them to have the backbone to accomplish them. While so many organizations talk about actually taking the steps to restore salmon Wild Fish Conservancy is willing to sue to make sure the science is implemented in law. I dislike lawsuits, but at times, they are the only tool left, before all the salmon are gone forever.

As Kurt says at the end of this email: Despite NOAA’s acknowledgement that the current harvest rates are harming both ESA-listed Chinook and orcas, they continue to authorize the fishery to operate business as usual, citing speculative and unproven plans to mitigate this harm. To date, this hypothetical mitigation has yet to be implemented, yet the fishery continues to harvest at the expense of both protected species.

I applaud their efforts in an era when too little is being done to stand up to industry and government inaction and hope you will support their work as you can.

__________________________________

NEW PROTECTIONS
This week, as the result of a lawsuit by Wild Fish Conservancy and the Center for Biological Diversity, federal fisheries managers announced a proposal to increase protections and foraging opportunity for the starving Southern Resident killer whale population.

The action comes in the form of a newly proposed amendment to the Pacific Coast Salmon Fishery Management Plan, which guides the management of all salmon fisheries in Federal waters off the coast of California, Oregon, and Washington.

Once adopted, the newly proposed ‘Amendment 21’ will finally acknowledge and address the complex prey needs of the critically endangered Southern Resident killer whale population by limiting non-tribal commercial Chinook salmon fishing in years of low Chinook salmon abundance to protect foraging opportunities for the orcas. Killer whale scientists have identified lack of available prey as the primary cause of the Southern Resident’s decline.

These new protections are the result of a 2019 lawsuit challenging NOAA Fisheries for failing to acknowledge the overwhelming evidence that the current management plan governing these West Coast fisheries is harvesting prey critical to the survival of the Southern Residents, especially in years of low Chinook abundance.

The fisheries’ impacts on the protected orca population had not been formally analyzed since 2009. Our lawsuit called for the agency to conduct a new analysis, as required by the Endangered Species Act, that considered over a decade of new scientific information about the reason for the population’s decline, their relationship to salmon, and the impacts of prey depletion on their survival and recovery. NOAA Fisheries finally agreed to conduct a new analysis which confirmed current management was not sufficient to meet the needs of the endangered Southern Residents and that actions would need to be taken to improve foraging opportunities for the starving whales, leading to the proposed new amendment.

SETTING A NEW PRECEDENT
As an action alone, the new amendment is a small step forward when considering the scope of the crisis facing the Southern Resident killer whales. At the same time, this action represents the beginning of a fundamental shift in how federal agencies should be managing commercial salmon fisheries. 

Amendment 21 sets a new precedent that says it is no longer acceptable to fundamentally ignore the prey needs of federally-protected killer whales when managing commercial salmon fisheries.

 

Below we’ve shared information about another lawsuit filed by Wild Fish Conservancy in 2020 over harvest practices in Southeast Alaska that are contributing to the decline of both Southern Resident killer whales and Puget Sound Chinook. Amendment 21, and the underlying litigation, have set in motion important momentum critical to the outcome of this second ongoing lawsuit.

A COASTWIDE THREAT
The Pacific Coast Salmon Fishery Management Plan is not unique. For decades, commercial salmon harvest plans authorized by federal and state officials throughout the coast have ignored or failed to adequately address the prey needs of the Southern Residents. When fishery managers come to the table to make critical salmon harvest and allocation decisions, the whales are often not considered as a “stakeholder”, despite the population’s continued decline toward extinction and federal protected status.

A primary example is the Pacific Salmon Treaty, an international agreement between the United States and Canada that governs the management of all Pacific salmon stocks of mutual concern and is the most consequential and far-reaching management plan governing commercial salmon fisheries in Washington, British Columbia, and Alaska. In 2018, the public had the opportunity to review the Pacific Salmon Treaty’s new 10-year agreement, which will be in affect through the year 2028. In the over 100 page document, there is not a single mention of the Southern Resident killer whales, let alone their foraging needs.

Last month, Wild Fish Conservancy submitted our summary judgement motion in another lawsuit against NOAA Fisheries launched in 2020 over the authorization of harvest in the Southeast Alaska Chinook troll fishery that is pushing both Southern Residents and wild Chinook populations in the northwest closer to extinction, a conclusion NOAA acknowledges in their own 2019 analysis of the fishery.

The Chinook troll fishery operates 10-months of the year outside of Southeast Alaska and is considered a mixed-stock fishery, meaning a fishery where Chinook are indiscriminately harvested regardless of their protected status, age, hatchery or wild origin, and what river they originated from.

Nearly all of the fish harvested in this fishery will go on to be marketed as sustainably-certified, wild-caught Alaskan Chinook. However, data confirms 97% of the Chinook harvested in the fishery originate from rivers in British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon. If given the opportunity, these Chinook would migrate back down the coast serving as the primary prey for the Southern Resident killer whales as the Chinook pass through the whale’s key forage areas. Instead, these fish are being harvested outside of the range of the whales and at levels that federal fishery managers acknowledge are unsustainable for the long-term survival and reproductive success of the Southern Resident population.

At the same time, wild Chinook are being harvested regardless of their origin and status under the Endangered Species Act, which further impedes the recovery of critical Chinook populations throughout the Pacific Northwest the whale’s depend on. 

Despite NOAA’s acknowledgement that the current harvest rates are harming both ESA-listed Chinook and orcas, they continue to authorize the fishery to operate business as usual, citing speculative and unproven plans to mitigate this harm. To date, this hypothetical mitigation has yet to be implemented, yet the fishery continues to harvest at the expense of both protected species. The insufficiency and hypothetical nature of the mitigation is at the heart of Wild Fish Conservancy’s arguments in this case. We will be sure to continue to update you as this extremely consequential lawsuit moves forward over the coming months.

Response from Alexandra Morton on yesterday’s article

Yesterday, I published an article here about new research findings of the spread of Picene Orthoreovirus from farmed salmon to wild stocks. In it, I described some of the work that Alexandra Morton had done to bring this to the attention of the world. After reading the article, a local radio host has reached out to her to have her on and discuss her work. During the email exchange, Alexandra talked about the history of the attacks by the salmon farming industry on her, which I had mentioned happening in our local Marine Resources Committee. Here is an excerpt of her response. Unfortunately my blog entry does not allow me to publish PDFs, so I am posting a link to the folder on my web site to download and view the documents if you are interested. 

From Alexandra: “Yes, they like to say I am not a scientist, and yet I was the first to publish that the PRV in British Columbia was a match for PRV in Lofoten Norway (attached), and now 8 years later it would appear I was right.  I have also published on the spread of the virus into wild salmon…  The trouble with these claims is that I am published in some of the top scientific journals in the world, and despite their efforts to get my papers retracted, they have failed.

They have been completely silent about my new book wherein I detail internal DFO/industry communications.”

 

The link to the files is here. I’ll leave it up for 14 days, and then if you want it contact me directly. The radio interview will come out later this month or next. I’ll post when it does. 

https://mountainstoneconsulting-my.sharepoint.com/:f:/p/alb/Eq-IeJs3chpCj8Yfjm_uR1wB84-GXNSLL7D4LgWy7pF54A?e=2eQO35

Dabob Bay Public Hearing canceled. New date to come.

Friends of Dabob Bay,
DNR announced today that the Public Hearing scheduled for tomorrow May 13 in Quilcene has been canceled and will be rescheduled:

DNR has received requests to include remote internet access for this meeting due to concerns regarding COVID-19. DNR is rescheduling this meeting in order to address this request, and will send out new notice when the date and time have been chosen.

The public hearing will likely be rescheduled in July or later, because DNR will need time to provide public notice.

For those of you who have already submitted comments of support – THANK YOU – they are showing DNR and our County Commissioners that there is a lot of support for Dabob Bay conservation – but consider it a draft run. You will need to resubmit comments when the public hearing is rescheduled. If you have not yet submitted comments – save your energy! I will keep you posted!

Seabed mining opponents off WA Coast find win in legislature – Public News Service

Finally we have a ban on seabed mining off the coast. Thanks to everyone who pushed this bill. Sad it took a Democratically controlled legislature to pass it. This article explains why it’s a good thing.


Gov. Jay Inslee signed a seabed mining ban into law Monday. The measure prohibits mineral extraction within three miles of Washington’s coastline. It received nearly unanimous support in the Legislature, except for two “no” votes in the House. Lee First, co-founder of Twin Harbors Waterkeeper, helped mobilize businesses and conservation organizations to support the ban. Eric Tegethoff reports. (Public News Service)

Seabed Mining Opponents Off WA Coast Find Win in Legislature

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.

Group sues US over inaction to protect threatened species – OPB

Another day, another environmental lawsuit over the former administrations attacks on environmental protections. We’ll be seeing these for some time to come. 

Decisions by the Trump administration to withhold endangered-species protections for the northern spotted owl, monarch butterflies and other imperiled wildlife and plants could be set aside. That’s the goal of a conservation group’s lawsuit Thursday, challenging inaction on petitions to extend Endangered Species Act protections for several species that warranted them. Monica Samayoa reports. (OPB)

https://www.opb.org/article/2021/04/02/group-sues-us-over-inaction-to-protect-threatened-species/

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

Amid climate crisis, a proposal to save Washington state forests for carbon storage, not logging – Seattle Times

This is a good idea. Glad that Franz is in this role. She is doing a great job of looking into new ways to envision the public forestlands. 

_____________________________________________

Hilary Franz, state commissioner of public lands, is kicking off an examination over the next three to four months of all older forests on DNR lands west of the Cascades not already in conservation status — about 10,000 acres –to evaluate alternative uses to logging, including biodiversity, carbon storage, water quality and recreation. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/environment/amid-climate-crisis-a-proposal-to-save-washington-state-forests-for-carbon-storage-not-logging/

The Status Quo and the Environment

As we grind along through the seemingly futile re-engineering of the environment we now control, it is easy to wonder if any of the normal activities we engage in are really making any difference.Are the tens of thousands of hours spent in meetings about the environment really helping? Well maybe they are, but those meetings have become part of the “status quo” of environmental protection. We have an emerging “status quo” of environment organizations that exist to restore the destroyed ecosystems that we have created that work alongside the same industries that destroy it in many cases. These organizations all do good work, but they seem to be part of this new status quo. Are any of them really standing up anymore to fight the destruction in the first place? They don’t seem to be. Old organizations like People for Puget Sound who did have been subsumed into Washington Environmental Council, an organization that appears to exist simply to fight for “east side of the Sound” issues. I guess that’s where the money is. The new status quo is to go where the grants are, and don’t make waves or you’ll be branded a ‘radical’. A few organizations, run by radicals, are fighting back, and usually winning in courts, where the status quo has to uphold it’s political decision-making in front of a judge who has a dim view of the efforts by government agencies to hide their hand in glove work with industry above their duty to protect our environment. The ‘radicals’ are ones I prefer to give my donations to, since they are actually working to stop the problem before it becomes one. I don’t want to give money to an organization that tells me to my face that they can’t “prioritize” the issues of the Olympic Peninsula at any price. And frankly, I love to see the radicals messing with the smug high priced legal teams of the status quo in open court battle. Why? Because the radicals seem to find, over and over again, that industries that want to ‘work with us’ are many times lying through their teeth. Recent court rulings against the Army Corps of Engineers and the industries that sided with them in court are a prime example.

The status quo also is that this Democratic run state is ok with converting our public beaches into aquaculture farms with no debate on where the end is going to be on this land grab. It’s also for letting the military use our public beaches and waterways, with known and documented kills of our wild animals when they train our military. The same military that seems to hold us who pay their salaries in contempt, continues to be demonstrably unable to protect us from a small group of fanatics overrunning our seat of power. It’s like they never heard of the Maginot Line in military school. We let the military fly over our quietest places, not because they really need to in that exact locale, but because they have made it the “status quo”. People who question it, as the old jazz song by Les McCann and Eddie Harris “Compared to What” goes, “have one doubt and they call it treason.” The list of what we have come to accept as status quo is a long one.

And yet the Puget Sound Partnership sees a continued worsening of the environment measurements, across the broad spectrum of their monitoring. So is the status quo working for us?

Frankly, no. But we seem to not be at the tipping point, despite the pleas of ‘radicals’ whom we love, like Greta Thurnberg. On the Federal level, President Biden has put in place a woman who just may be the answer to the “status quo” at the Department of the Interior. Representative Deb Haaland is Native American, a citizen of Laguna Pueblo, the first to head the Interior department. She brings a radically new perspective to the department. Will she make a real difference? It remains to be seen, but I am hopeful. Rarely do Native Americans not bring a fresh perspective to government. But they aren’t always on the side of radical change.

I was reading an editorial tonight in Harper’s Magazine, the Easy Chair editorial by Hari Kunzru, on “Another World is Possible”. His article was about the radical issue of defunding the police. Is it so radical, he asked, given the behavior of many police departments and the massive industry built up to incarcerate mostly people of color? But what caught my eye was a quote, used in that context, that easily could be used here. I paraphrase only a bit.

“From the outsider’s perspective, the status quo does not seem like a delicately balanced organism that would be damaged by radical intervention, but an aberration that should be consigned to history…difficult as it may be to accept, the reformist perspective-that is, the belief that change will come about through a few politically palatable reforms-is the truly utopian one. Realism demands acceptance of the complex relationships between these problems…If you grow up in a culture that does something a certain way, it can seem not just normal, but natural…It can sometimes be difficult to picture an alternative.”

Harper’s Magazine, March 2021 Page 7

All radicals that have effected change were unwilling to accept reformist efforts. MLK, Gandhi, Billy Frank Jr. They demanded radical change. Who is willing to fill their shoes today? With the little time left us before the effects of our ignorance overwhelms our ecosystems, I suggest that radical ideas come to the front, and we really start talking about solutions that can solve problems rather than pretend the status quo is going to fix them.

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.

The never ending Spotted Owl saga

Once again, after the Trump Administration tried to roll-back the laws protecting the last remaining old growth on the Olympic Peninsula, the Biden Administration will take a look at whether science played any role at all. Likely not. Even if it goes through, it won’t bring back the one log trucks that helped wipe out virtually all of the habitat for old growth species. That ship sailed with the passage of shipping whole logs to Japan in the late 1970s, and that was about the time the last one log truck ran on the Peninsula.. Long before the Spotted Owl was the issue. Blame it on the desire to cut every last old growth for profit. The Spotted Owl issue was simply a logical outcome of wiping out the forests that they depend on.


The U.S. Interior Department is delaying and reviewing the Trump administration’s last-minute roll-back of federal protections for the imperiled northern spotted owl, which called for slashing protections from millions of acres of Northwest forests. On Jan. 15, just days before leaving office, the Trump administration published a final rule revising Endangered Species Act protections for the northern spotted owl. The rule lifted critical-habitat protections for the bird from 3.4 million acres in Oregon, Washington and California. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s had proposed a far more modest revision, seeking to remove critical habitat status from a little over 200,000 acres in 15 counties in Oregon. Monica Samayoa reports. (OPB)

OPB

Biden administration will reconsider northern spotted owl forest protection rollbacks

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.

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— 

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

EVENT: WDFW hosts online meeting to hear public input on fish passage and screening rule

February 16, 2021
Contact: 
Gabrielle Stilwater, fishpassagerules@dfw.wa.gov

WDFW hosts online meeting to hear public input on fish passage and screening rule

OLYMPIA — The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is working to create new rules surrounding fish passage and screening improvement work. The public is invited to an online meeting on Thursday, Feb. 25 from 1 to 2 p.m. to learn more about the topic and provide input. No registration is required to attend.

The rulemaking effort is rooted in recommendations from Gov. Inslee’s Southern Resident Orca Task Force. In 2018, the task force published its report identifying lack of prey as a key threat to Southern Resident Orcas. Recommendation three of the report endorsed agencies to apply and enforce laws that protect salmon habitat.

The task force specifically noted that WDFW should develop rules to fully implement Chapter 77.57 Revised Code of Washington (RCW), better known as the fishways, flow, and screening statutes.  

“Barriers that block fish from swimming upstream or fish movement instream, such as deteriorating culverts, outdated bridges, and diversion dams undermine the state’s salmon recovery efforts and impact other aquatic species,” said Margen Carlson, Habitat Program Director at WDFW. “We want to help landowners protect fish by creating rules that provide clear guidance.”

WDFW has drafted the first version of rules for comment. For more information, visit wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/habitat-recovery/fish-passage/rule-making.

People with limited internet access can call the Habitat Program at 360-902-2534 to learn how to participate by phone and request print materials.

Although fish passage and screening requirements for new construction has been codified through Hydraulic Project Approval (HPA) rules, rulemaking for fish passage and screening will focus on compliance standards used for current and future fish passage and screening improvement projects, such as climate adapted water crossings. New rules are anticipated to go into effect in 2022.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting, and perpetuating fish, wildlife, and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing, hunting, and other recreation opportunities.

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

Democrats urge investigation into removal of owl protections – KNKX

In badminton the thing you hit to the opponent is called the “shuttlecock”. In the game of “blame something for the destruction of Northwest virgin forests and the subsequent loss of the old fashioned timber industry” the shuttlecock has been the indicator species, the Spotted Owl. It’s again back in play this year.

The Trump administration took the side of the rural timber industry, who has blamed the Spotted Owl on their industry’s decline, despite huge amounts of evidence to the contrary (i.e. starting with no real limits on old growth logging for the last 100 years until it was too late, the advent of the chain saw and other high yield mechanical harvesting starting in the 1940s, and the real death knell, the decision of Congress in the 1970s to allow raw logs to be shipped to Japan), the industry continues to believe that if only we allowed this indicator species to die off, we could return to the heyday of one log trucks plying highway 101. That idea flies in the face of the reality that less than 1% of old growth forest in the Pacific NW still exists. So what is the fight about, really?

Eight Democratic lawmakers called Tuesday for an investigation into “potential scientific meddling” by the Trump administration in its rule to remove critical habitat protections for the imperiled northern spotted owl in the Pacific Northwest.

KNKX.ORG

Read the latest Spotted Owl badminton game overview and all it’s sordid details, here.

https://www.knkx.org/post/democrats-urge-investigation-removal-owl-protections

Washington State Parks commission approves scaled-back proposal for Navy SEALs training – Seattle Times

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The outcome was never in doubt. It never is. Our state parks are being turned into military training facilities and there is no way to stop it. It doesn’t matter if it’s up to the Democrats or the Republicans. Who thought this was a good idea? It seems to be a show by the military of raw arrogance “we can do it and they won’t stop us.” It is a never ending story of a grab for more of our waters, our beaches and our tax payer monies for protection that becomes less effective by every year. We are unable to effectively protect our assets on our computers from a torrid of hacking. And as we saw at the Capital, the real enemies we have to fear are the people right here among us who have bought, hook line and sinker, that when they lose an election, when they don’t get their way, that it is grounds for revolution, violence and mayhem.

Want to complain to the Governor and your state representatives? Start with our State Parks and Recreation commissioner, Jessica Logan, who’s comment was was worthy of the best of George Orwell’s famous doublespeak. “At no time will the Navy’s use of State parks supplant or displace the public. The public always has a priority.” Right. Sure. Thank you to Ken Bounds, Sophia Danenberg and Diana Perez for at least trying to stop this.

Here’s how they voted, so you can take action to try and get rid of the Commissioners who supported this next time their terms are up:

Motion by Mark O. Brown to approve the staff recommendation as proposed in the Requested
Action above. Second by Michael Latimer. All those in favor: Michael Latimer (term expires in 2024), Steve Milner, Cindy Whaley (term recently expired, up for renewal?), and Mark O. Brown (2022). All those opposed: Ken Bounds, Sophia Danenberg and Diana Perez. Motion passes 4 to 3.

Amendment to the motion by Commissioner Milner: In consideration of how these park supporters feel and their concerns for diminished spiritual, philosophical and emotional attachment to the parks, I move to amend staff’s recommendation to add to the criteria and conditions set forth in Appendix #2 permit issuance is restricted to the time period when daytime visitors would normally not be permitted in the park per WAC 352.32.050. Nine months after the issuance of the first permit the Director will present to the commission a detailed report on permitted naval activity including interactions and issues arising involving park visitors and navy personnel, park visitors and park staff and comments to public information materials posted in
the parks and bring forth any recommendations for policy changes if warranted.

Second by Cindy Whaley. All those in favor: Michael Latimer, Steve Milner, Cindy Whaley, Mark O.
Brown, and Sophia Danenberg. All those opposed: Ken Bounds and Diana Perez. Amendment
passes 5 to 2.


A state commission has approved the Navy’s use of up to 17 Washington state parks for after-dark stealth training of SEAL teams. The 4-3 vote approves the training over the next five years. The Navy had sought to use up to 28 state parks for up to 48 hours at a stretch to enable special operation SEAL teams to make shoreline landings, then conduct surveillance of other military personnel dressed in plain clothes. Hal Bernton reports, (Seattle Times)

Washington state parks commission approves scaled-back proposal for Navy SEALs training 

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

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