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.

Jamestown S’Klallam proceeding with Dungeness Spit Aquaculture Permit

Clallam County Department of Community Development has published that the Jamestown S’Klallam have applied to restart their permit application for an aquaculture permit inside the Dungeness Spit Wildlife Refuge. This highly controversial application has drawn criticism from the Refuge manager, in a detailed response to the previous application. (See below) Critics of the application have stated that any non Tribal organization wishing to seek to establish this kind of operation within a refuge would run into serious opposition from conservation organizations, and likely Tribes as well,  but due to this being put forward by the Tribe, criticism has been muted.  It will  be interesting to see how this plays out. With shorebird populations in decline, especially those using Protection Island and feeding underwater in this very location, it’s hard to understand how this will be allowed.  Then there is the growing problems of ocean acidification and the European Green Crab invading not far to the west of this spot. Could the State perhaps offer a trade off of shoreline to protect the Refuge?

DCD have tentatively scheduled the Public Hearing before the Clallam County Hearing Examiner for this matter for Thursday November 21, 2019 at 1 p.m..

More can be found at

http://websrv2.clallam.net/tm_bin/tmw_cmd.pl?tmw_cmd=StatusViewCase&shl_caseno=SHR2017-00011&projectcasetag=Y

Also this web site has published the letter of concern from the Refuge Manager.

https://olyopen.com/2018/04/10/concerns-raised-over-dungeness-spit-oyster-farm-application/

As stated by the Department of Interior letter, “The shores and tidelands in this area provide some of the most important wildlife habitat and supports the highest density of waterfowl and shorebirds within the refuge….These shorelines also support one of the largest Brandt haul out sites in the state of Washington….Shorebird densities are highest within the action area and the adjacent lagoon on Graveyard Spit.”

“Human-caused wildlife disturbance and habitat loss are two of the most pervasive threats to shorebird and waterfowl use of the Salish Sea….very little information is available on entrapment resulting from aquaculture structures.”

The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe (JST) wants to proceed with the application after the Government to Government meeting with U.S. Fish & Wildlife (USFW). In a letter dated August 6, 2019

U.S.F.W rescinded their previous letter dated May 22, 2019 (See item B1.83 & B2.1 below for more information).

DCD will be providing notice and a SEPA threshold determination in the next couple of weeks.

We have tentatively scheduled the Public Hearing before the Clallam County Hearing Examiner for this matter for Thursday November 21, 2019 at 1 p.m..

 

 

State presents proposed cleanup plan for abandoned Rayonier site – PDN

The ongoing story of the cleanup of the environmental superfund site in PA. This site sits just east of the downtown, you can reach it as you take the walkway east from the port area. The hope and goal is to reclaim this for future generations.

Creation of open space for potential — though only occasional — use is included in a proposed cleanup strategy for the abandoned, still-polluted Rayonier pulp mill site and adjacent Port Angeles Harbor. The voluminous three-part study, and options it includes for the 75-acre industrial parcel east of downtown Port Angeles, were presented Wednesday at an Olympic Medical Center meeting room where some participants wanted more than that…To address soil pollution, 10 acres would be excavated to 1 foot deep and 0.5 acres to more than 1 foot. An additional 10 acres would be capped. To address groundwater pollution, air sparging — or the injection of air to disperse pollutants — would be employed to oxidize ammonia and metals in phases starting near the shoreline. To address sediment pollution in Rayonier’s portion of the harbor cleanup area — several other parties including the Port of Port Angeles are cleaning the western harbor — a log pond near a soon-to-be-removed 4-acre dock would be dredged. Sand, silt and gravel would be used as fill for dredged areas and berth and approach areas. It and the remainder of a sediment remediation area would be topped by a sand layer “to address sediment contamination and to provide suitable habitat,” according to the Volume 3 report. Cleanup costs of $24 million under the proposed plan will be borne by the land owner, Jacksonville, Fla.-based Rayonier Advanced Materials.  Paul Gottlieb reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

State presents proposed cleanup plan for abandoned Rayonier site

Feds seek expanded habitat protection as salmon, orcas battle climate change, habitat degradation – Seattle Times

While this is very welcome and overdue, it does, of course, exempt the military from this designation. So the Orcas can be protected against everything, except our military running secret experimental bombing, which by their own admission in their environmental review documents, will lead to death of wildlife. We consistently do not hold the military to the same environmental standards that we hold all other citizens.  Without doing that, this is just more of the same, fiddling while nature burns.

The designation requires review of federal actions within the areas that could affect southern resident killer whales, providing additional oversight by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/environment/feds-seek-expanded-habitat-protection-as-salmon-orcas-battle-climate-change-habitat-degradation/?utm_source=referral&utm_medium=mobile-app&utm_campaign=ios

Funds approved for economic study of murrelet plan – PDN

Funds approved for economic study of murrelet plan
The Clallam County commissioners have agreed to give $7,500 to the Washington State Association of Counties to conduct an economic impact study of the Long-Term Conservation Strategy for the marbled murrelet and how it would affect junior taxing districts. The commissioners agreed to send a letter to the Washington State Association of Counties (WSAC) informing it of the county’s support Tuesday. WSAC sent a letter to the county in August requesting the funds so that it can conduct a detailed economic impact analysis on county taxing district revenues if the preferred alternative in the Department of Natural Resources’ Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Long-term Conservation Strategy for the marbled murrelet is implemented. Clallam County, which has 93,301 acres of county trust lands — more than any other county in the state — was asked to provide $7,500 for the study. As of Aug. 13, DNR had committed $20,000 toward the study. Jesse Major reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

COHO SALMON FOUND IN LAKE SUTHERLAND – NW Treaty Tribes

The good news keeps coming. Wild coho have found mixing with fix that had been moved into and out of the hatchery during the dam removal.

During the tribe’s annual monitoring of Indian Creek, which connects Lake Sutherland to the Elwha River, the tribe found smolts up to 10 inches long in the tribe’s fyke net. Coho smolts are typically half that size.

Read the rest of the story here:

https://nwtreatytribes.org/coho-salmon-found-in-lake-sutherland/

Salmon Coalition celebrates decade-long project – PDN

While I miss the old 3 Crabs Restaurant, the recovery of the estuary of the Dungeness is far more important. In addition to NOSC, we should be aware that the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe along with the Dungeness River Managment Team has been extremely important to project management and stakeholder buy in.

For a good overview of the restoration issues with the Dungeness River, you can also view the 15 minute film I made with the Jamestown S’Klallam, the DRMT and others back in 2013. It will give you a good overview of the entirety of the project, along with a number of the people responsible for it’s restoration.

The North Olympic Salmon Coalition honored 10 years of work and partnerships made along the way in its 3 Crabs nearshore and estuarine restoration project at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the estuary off 3 Crabs Road earlier this month…. This restoration project is one of many NOSC has implemented in areas throughout the Olympic Peninsula. It was made possible by 29 stakeholders and supporters involved in the project. Erin Hawkins reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Salmon Coalition celebrates decade-long project

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