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.

Fisheries disaster money after ‘Blob’ just now being disbursed as new marine heatwave looms – Seattle Times

It’s sad that it’s taken the federal government three years to get this money to the fishermen who needed it back then. Why can’t our federal government work faster?  Why don’t we demand it do so! Now, we face another marine heatwave. Can our commercial fisheries withstand another financial hit, with the Feds taking so long to come through?

The marine heatwave known as “The Blob” wreaked havoc on Northwest fisheries during 2015 and 2016, Ron Warren, fish policy director for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, told a Senate committee Wednesday. And before the federal government could even provide disaster relief for that event, another marine heatwave loomed, he said. The Blob stoked marine temperatures nearly 7 degrees higher than normal, according to his testimony. Fewer coho salmon returned. Those that did return were smaller. Fisheries had to be closed. Gov. Jay Inslee and representatives of several tribal governments in 2016 requested millions of dollars in federal fishing disaster funds to help offset the losses to fishing communities. Now, more than three years later, the fishing disaster money has only just arrived from the feds, Warren told senators. Evan Bush and Hal Bernton report. (Seattle Times)

Fisheries disaster money after ‘Blob’ just now being disbursed as new marine heatwave looms

New viruses discovered in endangered wild Pacific salmon populations | UBC Science – Faculty of Science at the University of British Columbia

As if we needed another problem for our dwindling salmon stocks to face, now this.

New viruses discovered in endangered wild Pacific salmon populations
— Read on science.ubc.ca/news/new-viruses-discovered-endangered-wild-pacific-salmon-populations

EVENT: State attorney general Ferguson, DNR commissioner Franz to speak Aug. 25 at Democrats’ annual Fish Feast

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, undefeated in 22 lawsuits so far against the Trump administration, will be one of two keynote speakers Sunday, Aug. 25, at the 25th annual Fish Feast in Port Townsend of the Jefferson County Democrats. Its theme this year: “There’s a Lot on the Line.”

Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz, who spearheaded the development of a 10-year statewide plan to fight and prevent wildfires, will be the other keynote speaker.

Tickets for the event at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds are available for $60 at jeffcodemocrats.com and by mail at Jefferson County Democrats, P. O. Box 85, Port Townsend, WA 98368. Tickets will also be available at the door (cash, check or card).

Doors open at 4 p.m. for the bar and socializing in the Erickson Building. Dinner starts at 5:30 p.m., and speakers begin at 6 p.m. The party donates one dollar of each ticket to the Jefferson County Fair Board.

“The Fish Feast is our major fundraiser of the year,” said party Chair Marty Gilmore. “Each ticket purchase supports the vital work we do year-round to elect Democrats! It’s also an opportunity to hear the latest on current issues from our guest speakers – and fun time to see friends.”

Recent successes by Ferguson’s office include the largest-ever trial award in a state consumer protection case, debt relief from predatory lending for hundreds of students, and defense of the constitution by defeating the Trump administration’s attempt to add a discriminatory citizenship question to the 2020 Census.

Franz’s office has led state efforts to make Washington’s lands resilient in the face of climate change, investing in carbon sequestration and clean energy with wind, solar and geothermal infrastructure. Her office has also allocated millions of dollars to struggling rural communities to spark economic opportunities.

Fish Feast attendees will also hear from U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, state Sen. Kevin Van de Wege, state Reps. Mike Chapman and Steve Tharinger, state party chair Tina Podlodowski, and local Democratic elected officials.

Before the feast is served, guests can mingle with candidates, campaigns, and organizations in Campaign Alley outside the Oscar Erickson Building.

Rep. Kilmer has sponsored tickets for 20 Young Democrats (under 35 years old). Contact Libby Wennstrom (360-301-9728) or Chelsea Pronovost (425-256-0626) to pre-register as a guest.

“We’re also offering 20 discounted tickets at our cost,” said Fish Feast organizer Claire Roney. “$25 each – first come, first serve.” For more information—or to volunteer for the Fish Feast, contact Roney at (360) 531-1177.

The Fish Feat menu will include sockeye salmon from Key City Fish, BBQed by chef Larry Dennison; shellfish from Taylor Shellfish; greens and veggies from local farms; rolls from Pane d’Amore; and cake. Beverages will include wine from the Wine Seller and beer from Port Townsend Brewing Co.

For more information about the Jefferson County Democrats, visit its website at jeffcodemocrats.com or its Facebook page, @jeffcodemocrats.

Pink salmon numbers may threaten other North Pacific species – AP

The pieces to the salmon puzzle continue to come in from the various angles of research being done. The scientists in this article don’t claim to be have the sole answer but are raising questions that run counter to the narrative that the hatchery supporters want to tell. This is healthy debate and given the stakes for our last great fishery, are worth putting more money into determining whether these root causes or not.

Biological oceanographer Sonia Batten experienced her lightbulb moment on the perils of too many salmon three years ago as she prepared a talk on the most important North Pacific seafood you’ll never see on a plate — zooplankton.

https://www.apnews.com/e589a757f4fd48869af6e17845c5c857

And this follow up story showed up from KUOW

‘Slowly slipping away.’ Fewest sockeye salmon ever counted at Ballard Locks

Sockeye salmon are returning to Lake Washington in the smallest numbers since record-keeping started.

As of early August, 17,000 sockeye had returned from the ocean, compared to hundreds of thousands inat their peak years.

https://kuow.org/stories/slowly-slipping-away-sockeye-numbers-at-ballard-locks-reach-record-lows

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