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.

Washing Laundry May Be An Underappreciated Source of Microplastic Pollution – Columbia University

More bad news on how our daily lives are affecting the planet.

Concerns over plastic in the ocean are growing in recent years. About 2.41 million tons of plastic waste enter the oceans every year, including approximately 15,000 plastic bags per day. However, most of the plastic waste (94 percent) is made up of microplastics — pieces of plastic measuring less than five millimeters across. This summer, three interns at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory decided to focus their research on microplastics, specifically microbeads and microfibers. Mentored by Lamont marine biologist Joaquim Goes, the students Emmerline Ragoonath-De Mattos, Mariela Carrera, and Asya Surphlis uncovered a significant culprit of microplastic pollution that is largely overlooked: the washing of laundry…For now, there are products that consumers can buy to filter microfibers out in the washing machine. Two such options are products called Guppyfriend and the Cora Ball

Washing Laundry May Be An Underappreciated Source of Microplastic Pollution

Legal battles continue over dumping human waste in Puget Sound – KING

Like a tug coming up channel in the middle of the night, this could be seen coming a mile away. When the state, with the support of many environmental organzations, moved to ban all human waste from being dumped in Puget Sound, representatives came and presented to the Jefferson County Marine Resources committee (MRC) on what they proposed. The presenter, a very earnest younger person, discussed banning tugs from dumping waste overboard, and mentioned that they were hoping to grant a waiver extension for them to give them a few more years to revamp the tugs waste storage (which is essentially non existant as I’ve heard), I wondered whether or not they were really going to get support from the industry. It appears they haven’t.

The problem appears that most tugs were never designed with significant holding tanks, as many were built in the era when dumping overboard was the standard. Asking them to redesign what little room exists in order to build in larger holding tanks, if it’s even possible, was a big ask. I argued then, and argue now, that an exemption for existing working tugs should be found, and that new tugs should be designed for standard holding tanks.  If there are some arguements I’m not understanding in this debate, then please write and let me know. This seems like fighting over a very small issue in the larger scheme of things, and we have much larger fish to fry in saving Puget Sound and the Salish Sea.

Tug boat companies are suing the EPA to stop a Washington state ruling that bans the dumping of raw sewage in Puget Sound area waterways. Now, several environmental activism groups are getting involved in the legal fight. Last year, the Washington Department of Ecology created the Northwest’s first no discharge zone (NDZ), which would span 2,300 square miles from the Canadian border to the Discovery Island Lighthouse and waters east of the New Dungeness Lighthouse. It also would include Lake Washington, Lake Union, and connecting waters to Puget Sound…. Puget Soundkeeper is now one of several groups fighting back against a lawsuit that tugboat companies have filed against the EPA, which ruled that Puget Sound has enough pump-out stations to accommodate Ecology’s decision. They have joined the EPA as intervenors, along with the Washington Environmental Council and Friends of the Earth. Alison Morrow reports. (KING)

Legal battles continue over dumping human waste in Puget Sound

Troubling report on the use of chemicals in National Refuges

Given the current discussion about allowing large scale aquaculture in the Dungeness Bay National Refuge, it’s worth looking at what’s happening at other refuges across the country. While most of these are land based, it’s not likely that most people assume that pesticides are allowed to be sprayed in wildlife refuges. It points out why the Army Corp. of Engineers needs to do more diligence with the permit applicant before coming to a conclusion about what to do.


For Immediate Release, May, 10, 2018

Contact: Hannah Connor, (202) 681-1676, hconnor@biologicaldiversity.org

Analysis: 490,000 Pounds of Toxic Pesticides Sprayed on National Wildlife Refuges

Pesticide Use on Crops Grown in Refuges Spikes in California, Oregon, Arkansas, Tennessee, Maryland

WASHINGTON— America’s national wildlife refuges are being doused with hundreds of thousands of pounds of dangerous agricultural pesticides every year, according to a first-of-its-kind analysis by the Center for Biological Diversity.

The Center report, No Refuge, reveals that an estimated 490,000 pounds of pesticides were dumped on commodity crops like corn, soybeans and sorghum grown in national wildlife refuges in 2016, the most recent year for which data are available. The analysis was conducted with records obtained by the Center under the Freedom of Information Act.

“These refuges are supposed to be a safe haven for wildlife, but they’re becoming a dumping ground for poisonous pesticides,” said Hannah Connor, a senior attorney at the Center who authored the analysis. “Americans assume these public lands are protected and I think most people would be appalled that so many pesticides are being used to serve private, intensive agricultural operations.”

The pesticides include the highly toxic herbicides dicamba and 2,4-D, which threaten the endangered species and migrating birds that wildlife refuges were created to protect. Refuge pesticide use in 2016 was consistent with pesticide applications on refuges over the previous two years, the Center analysis showed.

America’s 562 national wildlife refuges include forests, wetlands and waterways vital to thousands of species, including more than 280 protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Yet intensive commercial farming has become increasingly common on refuge lands, triggering escalating use of highly toxic pesticides that threaten the long-term health of these sensitive habitats and the wildlife that depend on them.

In 2016 more than 270,000 acres of refuge land were sprayed with pesticides for agricultural purposes. The five national wildlife refuge complexes most reliant on pesticides for agricultural purposes in 2016 were:

  • Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex in California and Oregon, with 236,966 pounds of pesticides;
  • Central Arkansas Refuges Complex in Arkansas, with 48,725 pounds of pesticides;
  • West Tennessee Refuge Complex in Tennessee, with 22,044 pounds of pesticides;
  • Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Tennessee, with 16,615 pounds of pesticides;
  • Chesapeake Marshlands National Wildlife Refuge Complex on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Virginia, with 16,442 pounds of pesticides.

Additional findings from the report:

  • Aerial pesticide spraying: In 2016, 107,342 acres of refuge lands were aerially sprayed with 127,020 pounds of pesticides for agricultural purposes, including approximately 1,328 pounds of the notoriously drift-prone dicamba, which is extremely toxic to fish, amphibians and crustaceans.
  • Glyphosate: In 2016 more than 55,000 agricultural acres in the refuge system were treated with 116,200 pounds of products containing glyphosate, the pesticide that has caused widespread decreases in milkweed plants, helping to trigger an 80 percent decline of the monarch butterfly over the past two decades.
  • 2,4-D: In 2016 more than 12,000 refuge acres were treated with 15,819 pounds of pesticide products containing 2,4-D, known to be toxic to mammals, birds, amphibians, crustaceans, reptiles and fish and is likely to jeopardize the continued existence of endangered and threatened salmonids.
  • Paraquat dichloride: In 2016 more than 3,000 acres of corn and soybean crops on refuge lands were treated, mainly through aerial spraying, with approximately 6,800 pounds of pesticides containing paraquat dichloride, known to be toxic to crustaceans, mammals, fish, amphibians and mollusks and so lethal it is banned in 32 counties, including the European Union.

“These pesticides are profoundly dangerous for plants and animals and have no place being used on such a staggering scale in our wildlife refuges,” Connor said. “The Interior Department needs to put an end to this outrage and return to its mission of protecting imperiled wildlife, not row crops.”

 

No Refuge

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Pesticides and salmon: Can we see a light at the end of the tunnel? – Watching Our Water Ways

Once again, the National Marine Fisheries Service has determined in official findings that three common pesticides — chlorpyrifos, diazinon and malathion — raise the risk of extinction for threatened and endangered salmon. By extension, for the first time, the agency also concluded that those same pesticides threaten Puget Sound’s endangered orca population by putting their prey — chinook and other salmon — at risk. This politically and legally charged issue — which has been around for more than 15 years — has gone beyond a debate over potential harm from pesticides. It also raises uncomfortable questions about whether our society will follow science as we try to solve environmental problems. Chris Dunagan reports. (Watching Our Water Ways)

https://pugetsoundblogs.com/waterways/2018/01/16/pesticides-and-salmon-can-we-see-a-light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel/

More concerns raised about flame retardants – NY Times

The New York Times has a story that is quite disturbing, about new concerns with flame retardants, found in almost every home and office these days. It now looks like they could be the root cause of a cat wasting disease that has been rampant throughout the U.S. and the developed world. Our State Senator Kevin van de Wege has been a leader in trying to get these chemicals permanently banned in our state and with this article, perhaps he can finally convince remaining holdouts to get these chemicals banned from our homes.  PBDEs are found throughout Puget Sound waters. They likely are found in our fish. And they are found in our homes. Almost every couch seat cushion contains them. As does our electronics. You can help by letting Senator Van de Wege know you want to see him push to get this finalized next legislative session.

New study finds no Fukushima radiation in shellfish samples in B.C.

News from Canada on the latest round of testing for Fukushima radiation. For those wanting a deeper dive on the methodology, try the link in the story below.


Thought I would let you know of some good news in case you have been asked about this or have concerns yourself. The Fukushima incident in 2011 led to some concerns over the safety of waters and seafood products in BC, and the implied impacts for humans. A group of scientists were formed to look into this https://fukushimainform.ca/about/to assess what the risks were and to disseminate the information to the public.

Last year the group tested radiation levels in salmon and found nothing of concern. This year they also did salmon sampling, but also included shellfish which is where I was involved. I approached growers around BC, from Prince Rupert to Baynes Sound, to Sunshine Coast and west coast of Vancouver Island, using a variety of shellfish (oysters, scallops, mussels and mussel hybrids) and targeting the tissues that would be eaten by humans (in general whole body but in case of the scallops only the adductor muscle). The analysis of both the tissue and the shell is completed and great news, they found no detectable levels of radiation. You can find more about it here:

https://fukushimainform.ca/2016/11/24/results-from-2016-inform-biotic-monitoring-shellfish-and-vancouver-island-salmon/#more-2489

So far the webpage shows the information from the tissues only, but the shells also did not contain any radiation either and that will be posted shortly. So I thought it would be useful to pass it along to you as producers, but also so you can pass along to any consumers who may have expressed caution. You can now direct them to the study!fukushimainform

I also thought I would share it with you as although none of your animals were tested, it shows species information for producers in the same local area – e.g. Steve and David, you’ll see that Quadra is clean for many species. Darlene – I thought you might like to tell members or to link to it on the BCSGA webpage.

Please let me know if you have any questions and please feel free to direct anyone to the website.

Dr. Helen Gurney-Smith

Biological Effects, Ecosytems and Oceans Science
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
St. Andrews Biological Station
531 Brandy Cove Road

St. Andrews, New Brunswick, E5B 2L9 Canada

%d bloggers like this: