Some B.C. restaurants remove wild salmon from menu in response to declining stocks – CBC


This is an interesting idea. I know that master chef Tom Douglas still supports having wild salmon in his restaurants as a way to keep the fishermen (and women) employed and keeping the wild cycle in play. It is worth remembering that certain stocks are being closed or only open for a day or two. I assume we will see more of this in the near future.

The Naramata Inn in the Okanagan has temporarily removed wild salmon from its summer menu, a decision chef Ned Bell said he made in an effort to allow salmon populations to recover. “It is a species that needs all the love we can give it.” Bell, who is a former Ocean Wise executive chef, said that it’s a temporary measure and he looks forward to bringing salmon back on his menu and supporting community fisheries again. The Vancouver-based Ocean Wise Conservation Association rates the sustainability of seafood so that consumers can avoid eating species that are over-fished or in decline. Michelle Gomez reports. (CBC)

Some B.C. restaurants remove wild salmon from menu in response to declining stocks

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.

The Good News: Puget Sound Herring

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

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

Cooke’s Washington steelhead switch approved – The Fish Site

As long time readers of this blog will note, I am highly critical of the state granting permission to this company, which did such a horrible job of managing it’s facilities in the past. They showed by their previous actions to be incapable of being trusted in their maintenance and operational quality. The State also has fault, in that the legislature allowed, in years gone by, to have the over-site of the pens split between two different state agencies. The hope is that the over-site has been significantly strengthened, and that given the fiasco they brought to themselves that they have learned something. The article sited here only mentions that they passed the State’s scientific muster. No mention of tighter rules and regs on the farms.

They have also been working with some tribes locally in a type of partnership, which was to be expected as the tribes supported shutting down the raising of Atlantic salmon but did not want to back removing the pens. I predicted then that the tribes would be looking to get into the net pen business as Cooke was evicted, and here we are. The “science” that found that there is no ‘harm’ to the environment likely downplayed the destruction to the benthic layer under the farms, which is total and for all practical purposes, permanent, as long as the farm is there. We’ve seen NOAA downplay this risk, in order to promote aquaculture.

Cooke Aquaculture has been granted permission to start growing steelhead at four of its former salmon sites in Washington State.

https://thefishsite.com/articles/cookes-washington-steelhead-switch-approved

North Pacific fishing crews on edge about what they’ll find this month, after a tough 2020 of small fish and COVID-19 – Seattle Times

This is a very good roundup of what happened to the Pollack fishing last year in the Bering Sea, and what the fishermen and scientists are doing to try and predict this year. Short story: Global warming is appearing to significantly affect the stocks of one of the basic fish we North Pacific fishing crews on edge about what they’ll find this month, after a tough 2020 of small fish and COVID-19eat in large quantities.

Though the weather often is rough, these winter harvests typically offer prime fishing as the pollock come together in the southern Bering Sea before spawning. But the disappointing fishing in the last half of 2020 has put Ganley on edge about what he and his four crew members will find when they drop their nets.


https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/skinny-small-fish-and-covid-19-made-2020-a-difficult-year-for-north-pacific-pollock-fleet/

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.

Will a return to historical indigenous fishing practices help recover Pacific Salmon fisheries?

From Wild Fish Conservancy today: A publication released today in BioScience suggests that a return to historical  Indigenous fishing practices and systems of salmon management may be key to revitalizing  struggling Pacific Salmon fisheries across the North Pacific.  

The article, titled Indigenous Systems of Management for Culturally and Ecologically Resilient Pacific Salmon  (Oncorhynchus spp.) Fisheries, is authored by a collection of accomplished Indigenous leaders and  fisheries scientists from the United States and Canada. Wild Fish Conservancy is proud to announce  its own Adrian Tuohy serves as one of the paper’s co-authors.  

In the paper, the authors document how Indigenous communities of the North Pacific sustainably  harvested salmon for thousands of years by fishing in or near rivers with low-impact selective fishing  tools like fish traps, weirs, wheels, reef nets, and dip nets. After the arrival of European settlers,  traditional Indigenous fisheries and governance systems were suppressed, giving way to the mostly  unsustainable mixed-stock commercial fishing practices of today that commonly occur in the ocean  with non-selective tools, such as gill nets.  

“As they’re currently built, mixed-stock salmon fisheries are undermining the biodiversity needed for  Pacific salmon to thrive,” says Dr. Atlas, lead author of the publication and Scientist with the  Portland-based Wild Salmon Center. “Luckily, we have hundreds of examples, going back  thousands of years, of better ways to fish. These techniques can deliver better results for all  communities.” 

The publication reviews historical methods of Indigenous salmon fishing and management,  exploring the benefits of terminal fisheries and selective fishing tools able to release by-catch  (non-target species) unharmed. By targeting salmon runs in-river—rather than in the ocean, where  both healthy and threatened stocks intermingle—Indigenous people harvested individual, known  salmon runs as the fish made their homeward migration to natal rivers. Furthermore, Indigenous  groups used low-impact selective fishing tools to selectively target specific salmon runs, similar in  concept to Wild Fish Conservancy’s fish trap in the lower Columbia River which enables bycatch of  threatened and endangered fish to be safely released to reach upriver spawning grounds with nearly  100% survival rates. 

The authors of the publication propose reforming status quo management practices that have failed  to rebuild, or sustainably manage, struggling wild Pacific Salmon populations. According to the  authors, restoring governance, place-based management systems, and methods of in-river selective  harvest grounded in Indigenous knowledge can help revitalize Pacific Salmon fisheries and result in  more equitable fishing opportunities for Indigenous and non-Indigenous coastal fishing  communities alike across the North Pacific.  

“Conventional harvest and hatchery management have mostly failed to maintain or restore wild  salmon and steelhead south of the Aleutians,” says co-author Adrian Tuohy, a Biologist with  the Washington-based non-profit Wild Fish Conservancy. “By returning to place-based salmon  management systems, selective gears, and terminal in-river salmon fisheries historically embraced by  Indigenous communities, we can address many of the primary limiting factors to recovery of wild  salmon and steelhead while benefiting coastal fishing communities across the region.” 

If you want to know more about Wild fish Conservancy’s selective harvest and fish trap research at  wildfishconservancy.org or thefishtrapjournal.org, WFC’s online field journal dedicated to this  research project.  

Steelhead Farm Proposal Appealed to the State Supreme Court – Skagit Valley Herald

Now the battle against fish farming in Puget Sound moves to the State Supreme Court.


Environmental groups are taking their fight against Cooke Aquaculture’s proposal to transition from farming Atlantic salmon to steelhead to the state Supreme Court. The groups appealed Monday a Nov. 6 decision by King County Superior Court Judge Johanna Bender that upheld a permit issued by the state Department of Fish & Wildlife to allow such farms in area waters. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Steelhead farm proposal appealed to state Supreme Court

Millions have been spent on orca recovery: Is it working? – Everett Herald


And a follow up to the previous story, this is a good layman’s overview of the issue of salmon and orca recovery. It focus’ on Snohomish County but also discusses Sound wide issues. Notice, no mention of hatcheries here. It’s about habitat recovery. This article appears to have come out from under the paywall at this point.

Restoring destroyed salmon habitat is the key to regaining Southern Resident killer whale numbers. Julia-Grace Sanders reports. (Everett Herald)

Everett Herald

Millions have been spent on orca recovery: Is it working?

Controversy flares up over proposed policy revisions for state salmon hatcheries -PSI

This is a never ending story, because neither the Tribes, the sports & commercial fisheries, nor the politicians of any stripe are willing to entertain what is needed, which is an elimination of most hatcheries. Why? Because science has proven they don’t work. We have had hatcheries since at least the 1940s and they have not helped produce more wild salmon, nor added significantly to anything but sports fishing and farmed at a huge cost to taxpayers. (The exception to this is to protect almost extinct runs for tribal subsistence which is a valid concern for cultural survival of our Tribes. )We once had monstrous runs of wild (and free) fish for anyone to eat that would simply go out and catch them. They provided for lower income people in times of need. We have squandered that resource for many reasons, and have infected many of them with virus’ transmitted through farmed fish. We have spent vast resources trying to produce significant runs in hatcheries. None of this has worked. The science says to end hatcheries, but the political football of this issue just won’t let it go away. The future looks like we will lose our wild salmon in favor of robo-fish, farmed and produced simply for human and animal consumption. We do this at our peril. Just look at what one virus, picine reovirus (https://raincoastresearch.org/salmon-farm-impacts/viruses/piscine-reovirus/) has done to farmed fish stocks around the world.

So with that preamble, here’s today’s story>

A state policy revision that could boost salmon production at fish hatcheries in Washington state has raised red flags among scientists and environmental groups worried about potential damage to wild salmon runs.


The proposed hatchery policy, under review by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, could derail a 20-year effort to implement critical hatchery reforms, opponents argue. Major concerns revolve around threats to the future of wild salmon populations — including declines in genetic diversity and increasing competition from large numbers of hatchery fish. At the same time, a variety of sport and commercial fishing groups have thrown their support to increased hatchery production, saying that policies to protect wild salmon have reduced fishing opportunities while doing little to save wild salmon. Christopher Dunagan writes. (Puget Sound Institute)

Controversy flares up over proposed policy revisions for state salmon hatcheries

Minor bridge modifications could help young steelhead escape from Hood Canal – PSI

As this blog has reported for many years, the Hood Canal Floating bridge is a barrier likely the primary issue responsible for the massive decline in salmon in the Canal. An unintended consequence of our putting a floating bridge in rather than one that would be a suspension bridge. Chris Dunagan brings us up to speed on the latest work by engineers to address this mistake.


Help could be on the way for migrating steelhead and salmon in Hood Canal, where many young fish are killed each year by seals and other predators that lie in wait at the Hood Canal floating bridge. As many as 50 percent of the steelhead migrants perish as they arrive at the bridge, where predators pick them off one by one. The bridge is supported by floating concrete pontoons, forming a nearly solid barrier across the waterway. Young steelhead generally swim near the surface, making them especially vulnerable to predation, although some fish will dive under the bridge to get to the other side. Engineers are currently designing minor modifications to a few bridge pontoons to help the fish find their way through existing gaps in the structure. Chris Dunagan reports. (Puget Sound Institute)

Minor bridge modifications could help young steelhead escape from Hood Canal

The Elwha dams are gone and chinook are surging back, but why are so few reaching the upper river? – Seattle Times

Good update on the return of the river.


They were the king of kings in Puget Sound, the biggest chinook of them all, strong enough to muscle up the falls at the Goblin Gates and power on all the way through nearly 4 miles of chutes and falls in the Grand Canyon of the Elwha….Scientists have been tracking nature’s response. Some of what they are finding is surprising, even to them. Summer steelhead, nearly extinct in the Elwha, have come booming back to the river, all on their own. Once locked up behind the dams, rainbow trout are re-expressing their ability to go to sea as steelhead. Adult chinook returns to the river since dam removal are the highest since the late 1980s, with more than 7,600 estimated in the 2019 count. While that’s still a modest number, the Elwha represents one of the only watersheds in Puget Sound with such an uptick in population, said Sam Brenkman, chief fisheries biologist for the Olympic National Park, in an email. Colonization of the lower and middle river has been steady. But fewer chinook are reaching the deliciously cold, uppermost reaches of the watershed. Why? It’s a puzzle scientists are working on. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

The Elwha dams are gone and chinook are surging back, but why are so few reaching the upper river?

Hood Canal nearing a potential ‘first’ for salmon recovery – KIRO News

Hood Canal nearing a potential ‘first’ for salmon recovery.

In the Hood Canal Region there is an ongoing effort to de-list summer chum, a move that would be a “first” nationwide. A number of people who spoke with KIRO 7 believe that could happen within the next two years.

KIRO News 7

https://www.kiro7.com/news/local/hood-canal-nearing-potential-first-salmon-recovery/ZSKKVIDLTNH2LAQTEUTSMKQBUE/

Do we know enough to do anything about the sea lions of Puget Sound? -PSI


Chris Dunagan writes: “Scientists have known for years that Chinook salmon are important to southern resident orcas, but Chinook are not the only fish the whales eat. At the moment, chum salmon are returning to Puget Sound, and recent orca sightings suggest that the whales may now be feeding on chum. Harbor seals also eat Chinook salmon, but also chum, coho and other fish. They seem fond of smaller fish like herring and juvenile salmon. Oh, what a tangled food web we weave… Southern resident orcas are considered endangered. Puget Sound Chinook and steelhead are threatened. Harbor seals seem to be everywhere, hardly struggling to find food, at least as far as anyone can tell. So is it time to bring the powerful influence of humans into the equation by forcefully reducing the harbor seal population in Puget Sound? It’s a question that people have been pondering for years, but I’m not sure we’re much closer to an answer…” (Puget Sound Institute)

Do we know enough to do anything about all the seals and sea lions in Puget Sound?

Pebble Mine Alaska- Army Corps denies permit

The Army Corps of Engineers just denied the permit for Pebble Mine! The proposed mine threatens Bristol Bay, Alaska — home of one of the last great wild salmon runs and Indigenous communities who rely on it.

The Army Corps of Engineers found that the mine would likely result in significant degradation of the environment. So it officially rejected the permit under section 404 of the Clean Water Act.

This is a huge victory for communities near Bristol Bay, the salmon fisheries, our environment, and our climate. It sends a message loud and clear to corporate polluters that they cannot destroy our pristine wild places.  It does not end the project, but is a serious setback for it, easily carrying the decision over to a new President Biden if Trump is not re-elected.

If the mine is built, it could generate more than 10 billion tons of dangerous waste, wipe out 90 miles of salmon streams, and pollute more than 5,000 acres of wetlands, ponds, and lakes. It would likely decimate the local salmon populations — in turn impacting the local communities that depend on them.

More than 65 percent of Alaskans, and 80 percent of Bristol Bay residents — including Native people — strongly oppose the mine. The only ones who would benefit are Pebble Limited Partnership and their affiliates. Together, we stood up to the powerful advocates for the mine — and we won.

The Pebble Mine fight isn’t over yet. The EPA could still advance the project. But this victory is a huge step in the right direction — proving that people power works and we can stop polluters from harming the planet.

Cooke Aquaculture applies to modify water quality permits for steelhead farming in Puget Sound – DOE

Whatever could go wrong….At least it’s not non-native fish.

Cooke Aquaculture applies to modify water quality permits for steelhead farming in Puget Sound

Ecology is accepting comments on applications

Cooke Aquaculture has submitted applications to the Washington Department of Ecology requesting to modify its existing water quality permits for four Puget Sound net pens. The company wants to raise all-female, sterile rainbow trout, also known as steelhead, which are native to Washington instead of non-native Atlantic salmon.

In order to change the type of species, the company must go through a multi-agency, multi-step permitting process. Ecology is accepting feedback on the applications and supporting documents for the modification request. All documents can be viewed at ecology.wa.gov/NetPenPermit, and comments can be submitted online through May 22, 2020.

Contact –  Keeley Belva, Communications, 360-480-5722 @ecologyWA

Read more

 

New Year Brings New Protections For West Coast Seafloor Habitat – OPB

And more good news, as environmentalists and fishermen come together to finalize protecting one of the largest coastal areas in the world from destructive trawling practices, while recovering fish stocks. This has been a poster child for how to achieve a balanced approach to ocean management.

Regulations starting Jan. 1 restrict bottom trawl fishing on about 90% of the seafloor off Oregon, Washington and California.

Read the whole story at the link below:

https://www.opb.org/news/article/new-laws-2020-west-coast-seafloor-habitat-coral-sponges/

Good news from the coast

Seattle Times reports that.”West Coast fishery rebounds in rare conservation ‘home run’”

After years of fear and uncertainty, bottom trawler fishermen — those who use nets to scoop up rockfish, bocaccio, sole, Pacific Ocean perch and other deep-dwelling fish — are making a comeback here, reinventing themselves as a sustainable industry less than two decades after authorities closed huge stretches of the Pacific Ocean because of the species’ depletion.

Celebrate by buying some locally caught bottom fish tonight! It’s really important to reward these fishermen for their hard won successes. Many others went bankrupt waiting for this rebound to happen.

https://www.seattletimes.com/business/west-coast-fishery-rebounds-in-rare-conservation-home-run/

 

Cooke Aquaculture pays 2.75 Million dollar fine for net pen collapse

The company responsible for the net pen collapse that released large numbers of Atlantic Salmon into Puget Sound has settled out of court in advance of a Monday court date.

Cooke Aquaculture has reached a settlement to pay $2.75 million in legal fees and to fund Puget Sound restoration projects, putting an end to a Clean Water Act lawsuit that followed the 2017 collapse of one of the fish-farming company’s net-pen structures. – Seattle Times. Read the full article here and consider subscribing to the Times and keeping local reporters working.

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/environment/cooke-aquaculture-settles-lawsuit-with-wild-fish-advocates-over-net-pen-collapse/

These funds will go to help pay legal expenses, and the rest of the funds will go to the Rose Foundation to fund environmental projects to protect wild salmon and killer whales in Puget Sound, as well as WFC’s litigation expenses. Cooke also agreed to change their practices and address additional dangers identified in the course of the lawsuit, according to Wild Fish Conservancy, who brought the lawsuit.

“This is truly a victory for the future of our sound,” said Kurt Beardslee, executive director of Wild Fish Conservancy. “Open water net pen aquaculture is a risky business, and thanks to this settlement we are one step closer to getting this dirty industry out of Puget Sound once and for all. This was long in coming. Last year, the public demanded an end to Atlantic salmon net pens. Just last week, thousands of people spoke out against switching these farms to different species. Now a federal judge ruled that Cooke broke the law. It’s time for this industry to leave Puget Sound.”

Cooke’s operations continue to put wild salmon and the health of Puget Sound at risk. Just weeks ago, one of the Bainbridge Island net pens began sinking due to a hole in a flotation pontoon; luckily, the damaged portion was not stocked with Atlantic salmon at the time but may have resulted in an escape were the pens occupied. Marine engineer Tobias Dewhurst, an independent expert testifying on behalf of Wild Fish Conservancy, reviewed conditions at each farm site and determined “conditions at each of its eight sites exceeded the maximum rated conditions specified by the net pen manufacturer,” and that as a result “pens and cages operated by Cooke were at risk of failure.” Even given subsequent changes, Dewhurst concluded, “certain remaining sites appear to be operating in conditions that exceed those specified by the net pen system manufacturers,” and therefore “may be at risk of partial or catastrophic failure.”

http://www.wildfishconservancy.org/cooke-aquaculture-to-pay-2.75-million-ending-wfc-lawsuit-over-net-pen-collapse-1

Recently, Cooke has partnered with the Jamestown S’Klallam to reopen the net pens in Port Angeles to raise native, but genetically modified steelhead. While the danger of these fish escaping and somehow altering native stocks is dramatically lessened, there is still the issue raised by Wild Fish Conservancy, of destruction of the environment in and around the feeding pens, along with possible affects of raising large quantities of fish in a small enclose. Virus and parasites are traditionally the concern, yet the Tribe has claimed that they are working on mitigation techniques. The Tribe has been researching raising these steelhead at the NOAA research facility at Manchester for the last few years. Their goal is to do this as environmentally responsibly as possible giving current scientific best practices. Many in the environmental community remain unconvinced that this won’t become another problem.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife has issued a mitigated determination of non-significance, which allowed only  a 21-day comment period. This requires neither a full environmental assessment nor environmental impact statement under the State Environmental Policy Act. Such an assessment would have considered the risks of diseases, pollution, further escapes and collapses, and the potential harm to federally-listed native steelhead. Kurt Beardsley of Wild Fish Conservancy said of the lack of EIS, “The 2017 collapse revealed that these pens are dramatically under-built for conditions in Puget Sound, and that Cooke’s recovery plan in the event of escapes was woefully inadequate. More escapes would directly threaten our wild salmon, steelhead trout, and endangered killer whales. Without a full EIS, the state cannot address the evidence from their investigations and WFC’s.

The Tribe at least brings a local group that has a a track record of being  concerned with long term viability of the resource, and is not going to be moving operations like many international corporations do.

Just to the north, on the Canadian Coast, a long running battle over farmed fish has pitted environmental scientist and activist Alexandra Morton against the fish farming industry. She has been working with the local tribes in documenting a horribly destructive virus that has appeared from Norway in both the local wild fish and the farm raised fish.

While Washington state passed legislation banning PRV-infected farm salmon, it is still an unknown as to whether the virus is affecting the ever decreasing numbers of wild chinook that are the primary food of the resident orcas. Reopening net pens here could provide a vector for fish carrying the disease that could be passing through the infected waters to the north on their way here.

(more on this story at The Georgia Straight News)

In October, Cooke paid another large fine in Maine for multiple violations of their laws for fish farming.  https://www.seafoodsource.com/news/aquaculture/cooke-to-pay-fine-for-overstocking-maine-salmon-farms-not-conducting-environmental-testing

In April, Cooke paid over $300,000 for water quality violations here in Washington.

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