Fukushima fisheries: virtual field trip

Soma Fukushima harbor

This is a virtual field trip I’ve pulled together for the Marine Pollution class at SAMS to understand the effects of the 2011 earthquake, tsunami …

Fukushima fisheries: virtual field trip

After the 2011 Fukushima earthquake there was much made of the possible “permanent” nuclear pollution to the oceans around it, and further afield. Many of the readers of the Olympic Peninsula Environmental News had concerns about what happened after the earthquake and the affects of nuclear radiation on fish in the area. Here’s an update I found recently. Worth a look regardless of whether it changes your point of view on the disaster. I offer it only as a data point among many. First hand from the field by a noted scientist, Dr. Leslie Mabon.

Another big challenge for consumers and fisheries post-disaster has been trust. Who can one trust for reliable information on the safety of Fukushima fish? To assess the safety of fish caught in Fukushima waters – but primarily to promote cooking and eating Fukushima produce – the local NGO Umi Labo (meaning: Sea Lab) regularly catches fish from the sea off the coast of the Fukushima Dai’ichi nuclear power plant. With support from the Aquamarine Fukushima aquarium, they then independently check the content of the fish they catch. Anyone can join their cruises, which use the Cho-Ei Maru vessel (see Destination 7 above), and their monitoring data goes online for verification:

Dr. Leslie Mabon

Global Warming Visualized

This about says it all. Global warming is real. Questions?

Temperature changes are normalized by the size of year-to-year variations – this is then a signal-to-noise ratio. Note how changes in Africa stand out more clearly because the variability there is much smaller than in Europe, for example.

From Ed Hawkins@ed_hawkinsClimate scientist, University of Reading/NCAS | IPCC AR6 Lead Author | MBE | Warming Stripes: http://ShowYourStripes.info | Partner to @OceanTerra | Views own

Scientists deploy buoy in Puget Sound to measure noise, risks to orcas – Q13

Good quick read on the work being done by Sound Guardian on an issue we have advocated for over the years.

SEATTLE – Scientists aboard the King County research vessel ‘SoundGuardian’ Tuesday deployed a buoy that will monitor underwater noise in Puget Sound – which poses risks to our southern resident orca population.

Q 13


Navy releases technical report from jet noise study – Skagit Valley Herald

The long awaited report. Will be interesting to get the feedback on this from the Navy’s opponents.

Following the release in December of a study requested by Congress on noise from EA-18G jets, the Navy released last week a related technical report. The report includes more insight into where and when the Navy collected live jet noise data on the Growler jets during the study, which was conducted near Naval Air Station Whidbey Island and near a base in California between December 2020 and August 2021. Eleven sites were included in the study around Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, including one on a Skagit River dike on north Fir Island in west Skagit County. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Skagit Valley Herald link to their story. No real analysis done.

Navy releases technical report from jet noise study

The actual report is here. https://www.navfac.navy.mil/products_and_services/am/products_and_services/Sound_Monitoring.html

Port Townsend Event: Testify against military use of our parks 1/27

This is an update on the meeting happening on Thursday to get citizen feedback on allowing the State to have military training operations in our State parks. Just say no. Sent out by the local group No Park Warfare. Olyopen is not a member of this group but supports their stance.



Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission will be holding their next public meeting in person at Ft. Worden State Park in Port Townsend on Thursday, Jan. 27 this month. Please attend this meeting and continue to advocate for our State Parks!

Military training in State Parks is an issue that will be raised. One year ago in a single, virtual public hearing, the Commission voted 4 to 3 to allow military warfare training in our parks in spite of overwhelming opposition from the public, Jefferson County, the City of Port Townsend and other Puget Sound communities and groups.

This controversial decision granted permission for the military to conduct covert warfare surveillance trainings in our State Parks, using submersible vehicles, “fake” weapons, and unsuspecting park visitors as proxy enemies. Right now the trainings are being planned by park staff for Fort Worden, Fort Flagler, and other parks.

Soon after last year’s decision, a lawsuit was filed against the Commission by Washington taxpayers — the actual owners of the parks — who want continued protection for natural park environments, and for the peaceful recreation of the people.

A Citizens’ Complaint Letter signed by hundreds of concerned park users was filed with the Commission as well. To date, no response from Washington State Park Commissioners has been received.

The Commission usually meets from 9am to 5pm with a designated time for public input around 11am. This allows local residents—like YOU—to speak. Simply fill out a comment card at the sign-in table and the Chair will call on you at the appropriate time. Come early if at all possible.

Written comments can be handed to staff at the meeting with a request they be read aloud by Commissioners. We also encourage people to submit written comments by snail mail or email to Commission@parks.wa.gov.

For more meeting or lawsuit details go to: https://notinourparks.org/.

Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission

January 27, 2022 Fort Worden State Park, 200 Battery Way, Port

Townsend, WA 98368, Commons Conference Space

If Possible, please:

  •  Come at 8:30 am and stay until noon. (The Café is open from 7:30am until 2pm – very good coffee, food, inside/outside seating.)
  •  Bring friends.
  •  Bring signs (Parks Are for People, Octopus, Relaxation, Peace).
  •  Bring cell phones and take lots of photos (signs, crowds, etc.)
  •  Wear a name tag – name and group if you belong to one.
  •  Wear masks inside and observe Covid precautions.
  • Sign in to speak at entry desk.
  • Give written comments to staff (if you are not going to speak, ask that Commissioners read your comments aloud).
  •  Warfare training in parks is not on the agenda, but we may all bring this up during the ‘open public comment’ period around 10 or 11am.
  • Use Compassionate Communication in interactions. Focus on what we do want – our parks for play, relaxation, enjoyment of nature, healing, celebrations. Not everyone present may be on our same page. Be prepared to speak peacefully and walk away immediately from antagonism.

Peace, and see you there!

No Park Warfare

noparkwarfare.wordpress.com; notinourparks.org


Olympic Audubon bird count report

The report is out for the Christmas Audubon Bird Count. This annual event is extremely important in monitoring the birds of our area. There are a few surprises and also some birds that were missing from the count that had been there over the decades. Read up and join up if you like to get out and enjoy birds and the outdoors!


No shortage of questions to be answered for regions shrinking Orca population – Skagit Valley Herald

The money has been spent on the studies, now we need to save the fish that they eat. That, will be incredibly harder. We are in a race against time.

While scientists, wildlife managers and others continue to untangle the complex web of fish, boat and water quality issues that affect the health of Southern Resident orca whales, the population remains endangered — and continues to shrink. The National Marine Fisheries Service published a five-year review of the species on Jan. 4 in which it recommended the orca’s status under the federal Endangered Species Act remain unchanged. The species uses West Coast and Salish Sea habitat and eats the region’s salmon. Despite billions of dollars spent and dozens of studies authored since the Southern Resident orca was listed as endangered in 2005, there are now 15 fewer whales than there were in 2005. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

“No shortage of questions to be answered” for region’s shrinking orca population 

Hearing today on HB 1661:  Conserving and restoring kelp forests and eelgrass meadows in Washington state.

If you want to participate or weigh in with written comments, now is the time.


·         Directs DNR to develop a kelp forest and eelgrass health and conservation plan, which the agency should do with Tribal Nations and other agencies like WDFW.

·         Kelp forests and eelgrass meadows provide important habitat for juvenile salmon and other aquatic species.

Return of the Fish Farming Zombies

Though a stake was driven through the heart of the Cooke Aquaculture zombie a few years ago (with the help of the same tribe that now is in a joint venture with them!) they have returned and managed to get the State Supreme Court to side with them, with the help of the State Department of Fish and Wildlife (who neglected to properly monitor their pens that collapsed) allowing them to open for business again in the Port Angeles harbor and over near Cyprus Island. (and I would assume elsewhere).

From the Skagit Valley Herald:
The state Supreme Court published a unanimous decision by its nine judges Thursday to uphold the state Department of Fish and Wildlife’s approval of steelhead farming in Puget Sound. The environment groups Wild Fish Conservancy, Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, and Friends of the Earth have been fighting the state’s decision to allow steelhead farming since early 2020. At issue is the plan of international seafood company Cooke Aquaculture to switch from raising nonnative Atlantic salmon at net pens in the region to raising native steelhead trout at the facilities. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)


But… let’s look at the details, that the wider press did not address. Here is the summary from the State Supreme Court website.

The Wild Fish Conservancy (WFC) challenged the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (WDFW) approval of a permit that allowed Cooke Aquaculture Pacific LLC to change fish species to commercially farm steelhead trout in Puget Sound. The WFC alleged: (1) WDFW’s conclusion that an environmental impact statement (EIS) was not required was clearly erroneous; and (2) WDFW violated the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) by failing to consider and disclose appropriate alternatives to the proposal under RCW 43.21C.030(2)(e). The WFC asked the Washington Supreme Court to reverse the permit approval and order WDFW to complete an EIS. The superior court found WDFW’s SEPA analysis was not clearly erroneous and the steelhead permit application did not trigger RCW 43.21C.030(2)(e). Finding no reversible error in that judgment, the Supreme Court affirmed.

What the courts have confirmed were:

  • The EIS not being required was a correct decision.
    • This just means that the EIS was not required for reestablishing a fish farm. I personally disagree with this part of the ruling, but it does not seem to say that if you start a new fish farm, that you do not have to do an EIS.
  • That WDFW did not violate the SEPA.
    • That part was open to interpretation, clearly.

There are still places to fight Cooke, at the local and county levels. But given that farming steelhead is a net new industry, I can see some possible openings moving forward. Any notion that the lack of proper monitoring of the failed pens by WDFW would lead to greater oversite by them seems to have gone out the window with this decision. They weren’t even willing to demand an EIS… It’s ironic, that given the battle that Tribes have made for eating wild salmon, that Jamestown S’Klallam and others are willing to back fish farming locally. What do you make of that?

Bottom line, we cannot trust the Dept of Fish and Wildlife, nor some Tribes, to protect us from commercialization of the Sound for profit. if you don’t like the notion of eating farmed fish, with their feedlot like use of mass feeding and the impact to the bottom by having tens of thousands of fish congregated together, then boycott eating them and demand that your local fish markets do too. The impact to the wider community of wildlife in the Salish Sea will need to be seen as they reopen these destructive fish pens.

By the way, if you want to know how bad it can get here, just look at Chile. They are in the process of reviewing and possibly moving hundreds of salmon farms that have been allowed to proliferate off their coasts. The 270 applications are in addition to the hundreds that already exist. This was helped by the election of a young socialist candidate that has said he is going to help the indigenous people regain their ocean.

According to the presentation, made in the senate by Subpesca Head of the Aquaculture Division Eugenio Zamorano, Subpesca estimates that some 500 salmon concessions should be relocated, out of a total of 1,320 that the industry operates, with plans to merge some farming centers. (emphasis is mine)


Are we going to end up with hundreds of farms all over the Sound? It’s up to you.

WA legislators pondering kelp protection

Kelp is a critical part of the marine habitat. Kelp has been in decline across the Salish Sea, with few exceptions. Now, after a number of years monitoring the kelp beds (some done by the local volunteers of the Marine Resources Committees) a new bill has been put forward to the legislature this year to protect it. Worth weighing in with your support at the State web site. https://app.leg.wa.gov/billsummary?BillNumber=5619&Year=2021&Initiative=false

Marine Resources Volunteer surveying kelp bed. Photo by Al Bergstein

It’s Senate Bill 5619 (sponsored by Senators Lovelett, Conway, Das, Hasegawa, Nobles, Pedersen, Randall, Rolfes, Saldaña, Stanford, Van De Wege, and C. Wilson; by request of Department of Natural Resources.

House bill is 1661 sponsored by Representatives Shewmake, Ryu, Berry, Fitzgibbon, Ramel, Springer, Duerr, Walen, Callan, Goodman, Paul, Peterson, Ramos, Rule, Simmons, Slatter, Tharinger, Kloba, Pollet, and Harris-Talley; by request of Department of Natural Resources

Here’s an edited version of the bill.

AN ACT Relating to conserving and restoring kelp forests and eelgrass meadows in Washington state; adding a new section to chapter 79.135 RCW; and creating a new section.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON:NEW SECTION.  Sec. 1. (1) The legislature finds that coastal ecosystems and marine vegetation provide an array of valuable ecosystem goods and services to deep water and nearshore environments in Puget Sound and along the coastline. In particular, kelp forests and eelgrass meadows act as three dimensional foundations for diverse and productive nearshore ecosystems, supporting food webs and providing important habitat for a wide array of marine life, including orcas and threatened and endangered salmon and salmonid species. These marine forests and meadows play an important role in climate mitigation and adaptation by sequestering carbon and relieving ocean acidification. Marine vegetation can sequester up to 20 times more carbon than terrestrial forests, and therefore represent a critical tool in the fight against climate change.(2) Washington state is home to 22 species of kelp and is a global hotspot for kelp diversity. However, these kelp forests are under threat and have declined in recent decades.

A 2018 study conducted by the Samish Indian Nation on the bull kelp beds in the San Juan Islands found a 305-acre loss of kelp beds from 2006 to 2016, a 36 percent decline in one decade. A statewide study published in 2021 by the department of natural resources found that compared to the earliest baseline in 1878, the amount of bull kelp in 2017 had decreased by 63 percent in south Puget Sound, with individual areas showing up to 96 percent loss.(3) The legislature also finds that kelp and eelgrass have important cultural value to northwest tribal nations and have provided diverse marine resources that have sustained and inspired indigenous traditions over generations. In particular, bull kelp has played a prominent role in traditional knowledge and technology and is used in fishing, hunting, and food preparation and storage.

Decline in kelp forests threatens these uses, and the cultural livelihoods of coast Salish peoples.(4) Washington state’s eelgrass meadows also provide vital habitat for many organisms, including nursery habitat for juvenile salmon and feeder fish. Eelgrass also helps prevent erosion and maintain shoreline stability by anchoring seafloor sediment with its spreading roots and rhizomes. Eelgrass is used as an indicator of estuary health, because of its fast response to changes in water quality.

Examples of rapid eelgrass loss include Westcott Bay in San Juan county, where in 2000 there were 37 acres of eelgrass meadows and 20 years later less than one acre remains. Changes in the abundance or distribution of this resource are likely to reflect changes in environmental conditions and therefore are key species to monitor and protect to ensure marine ecosystem health.

Kelp forests and eelgrass meadows also provide and enhance diverse recreational opportunities, including productive fishing and picturesque kayaking and diving. These activities are important for local economies and for promoting strong senses of place and overall human well-being in communities. There is a need for greater education and outreach to communities to promote sustainable recreational practices in and near kelp forests and eelgrass meadows.

Existing regional plans for conservation of kelp forests and eelgrass meadows, including the Puget Sound kelp conservation and recovery plan (2020) and the Puget Sound eelgrass recovery strategy (2015), identify the need to prioritize areas for conservation and restoration based on historical and current distributions.

The legislature further finds that our terrestrial and marine ecosystems are interlinked and the state must be proactive in conserving our resources from trees to seas by protecting and restoring our marine forests and meadows in concert with conservation and reforestation of terrestrial forests. Therefore, it is the intent of the legislature to conserve and restore 10,000 acres of kelp forests and eelgrass meadows by


Sec. 2. A new section is added to chapter 79.135 RCW to read as follows:

(1) The department shall, consistent with this section, and subject to available funding, work with partners to establish a kelp forest and eelgrass meadow health and conservation plan that endeavors to, by the year 2040, conserve and restore at least 10,000 acres of kelp forests and eelgrass meadows. The plan should proactively and systematically address:(a) The potential loss of kelp forest and eelgrass meadow habitat throughout Puget Sound and along the Washington state coastline; and(b) Potential current and future stressors related to the decline of kelp forests and eelgrass meadows.

(2) The department shall develop the plan, in collaboration with partners, to assess and prioritize areas for coordinated conservation and restoration actions. The plan must consist of the following elements: Assessment and prioritization; identifying coordinated actions and success measures; monitoring; and reporting.(a) The department shall, together with partners, develop a framework to identify and prioritize kelp forest areas in greatest need of conservation or restoration. The framework must incorporate:(i) Conservation of kelp forests and eelgrass meadows. Utilize and build on existing research to map and prioritize areas of kelp forests and eelgrass meadows throughout Puget Sound and along the coast that are at highest risk of permanent loss, or contribute significant environmental, economic, and cultural benefits to tribal nations and local communities, including salmon recovery and water quality, and where opportunities for partnership and collaboration can accelerate progress towards the goal, and develop criteria by which an acre of kelp forests and eelgrass meadows can be considered to be conserved or restored;(ii) Map and prioritize kelp forest and eelgrass meadow areas throughout Puget Sound and along the coast where they were historically present, identifying priority locations for restoration, and where opportunities for partnership and collaboration exist that will accelerate progress towards the goal. This should include identification of sites where restoration may be possible and would most benefit nearshore ecosystem function, including where restoration could also support healthy kelp forests and eelgrass meadows, salmon recovery, water quality, and other ecosystem benefits;(iii) Identify potential stressors impacting the health and vitality of kelp forests and eelgrass meadows in prioritized areas in order to specifically address them in conservation and restoration efforts.(b) The department shall collaborate with impacted tribal nations, and other local and regional partners, to address conservation and restoration needs in the priority areas and the appropriate tools and partnerships to address them. In developing coordinated actions and success measures, the department shall:(i) Conduct an assessment and inventory of existing tools relevant to conserving and restoring kelp forests and eelgrass meadows and reducing stressors related to their decline;(ii) Identify new or amended tools that would support the goals of the plan created under this section; and(iii) Identify success measures to track progress toward the conservation and restoration goal.

(3)(a) By December 1, 2022, the department must submit a report in compliance with RCW 43.01.036 to the office of financial management and the appropriate committees of the legislature, that includes a map and justification of identified priority areas, determines an approach to monitoring the kelp forest and eelgrass meadow areas that are meeting the criteria for conservation or restoration established in the plan, and describe activities to be undertaken consistent with the plan. The kelp forest and eelgrass meadow health and conservation plan must be finalized and submitted to the office of financial management and the appropriate committees of the legislature by December 1, 2023.(b) Subsequently, each biennium, the department shall continue to monitor the distributions and trends of kelp forests and eelgrass meadows to inform adaptive management of the plan and coordinated partner actions. The department shall submit a report to the legislature that describes the kelp forest and eelgrass meadow conservation priority areas, and monitoring approaches and findings, including success measures established in the plan. Beginning December 1, 2024, and by December 1st of each even-numbered year thereafter, the department shall provide the appropriate committees of the legislature and the office of financial management with:(i) An updated map of distributions and trends, and summary of success measures and findings, including relevant information from the prioritization process;(ii) An updated list summarizing potential stressors, prioritized areas, and corresponding coordinated actions and success measures. The summary must include any barriers to plan implementation and legislative or administrative recommendations to address those barriers;(iii) An update on the number of acres of kelp forests and eelgrass meadows conserved by region, including restoration or loss in priority areas; and(iv) An update on consultation with impacted tribal nations and local communities by region.

(4) In developing the plan, the department shall:(a) Consult impacted communities using the community engagement plan developed under RCW 70A.02.050; and(b) Invite input from federally recognized tribal nations on kelp forests and eelgrass meadows with important cultural and ecological values that are threatened by urbanization or other disturbances.

Ediz Hook enhanced for salmon, public use – NWTTM

Here’s an update on the work at Ediz Hook in Port Angeles by the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe. They have been removing debris from the shore and planting eel grass to renew the nearshore habitat for fish and other species.

Below the surface, the tribe and partners Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and Washington Sea Grant have been restoring eelgrass beds on the sand spit’s south shore for the past four years, with greater success than expected

Northwest Treaty Tribes January 2022

Read the whole story here. https://nwtreatytribes.org/publications/magazine/

Donate to orgs that protect our seas! Real results here and around the globe

My end of the year appeal is to support the work of Sea Shepard and the Wild Fish Conservancy. Both these organizations are focused on taking radically important steps to stop the destruction of our seas and take the battles into courts and governments around the world. Here is a quick overview of the incredibly important work of Sea Shepard in stopping the rape of the ocean by putting themselves physically at risk. They have been helping Alexandra Morton in our area of the world as well. Ok. You know the drill. Click and support. See you in 2022.

And here is a short video on the latest project from Wild Fish Conservancy. They have been at the forefront of legal challenges to a variety of threats to the shores and waters of the Sound and elsewhere. They have a proven track record of success at stopping monied interests from pillaging the Salish Sea.


The Northwest Spotted-Owl Wars: No Happily Ever After – CrossCut

NW Environmental writer Dan Chasen puts together a good look at the Spotted Owl controversy and what is in store for the endangered bird.

So, where does this leave us? The most prominent environmental battle of the late 20th century; the most ambitious ecosystem management plan ever attempted; the most acres of critical habitat for a listed species; the only environmental conflict that has been the subject of a conference led by the President and attended by a good deal of the Cabinet; a species in a steep, scientifically-acknowledged and widely-reported decline — even with all those factors the FWS can’t find time to boost its status from “threatened” to “endangered?” This is bizarre. But hardly surprising.


Navy releases jet noise monitoring study

As you read this article, it’s worth noting that the Skagit Valley Herald did not print any input from the people who are suing the Navy. Only what the Navy said. I looked up the Citizens for Ebey’s Reserve web site and found the information that I posted below.

First a bit of the Skagit Valley Heralds story. Please read the whole story if you need get more info.

On the heels of a U.S. District Court critique of the Navy’s environmental review for increasing its EA-18G jet fleet and related flight operations at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, the Navy has released a noise monitoring report that was requested by Congress…The Navy’s noise monitoring report that is dated Nov. 30 concludes that the modeling it used to predict the impact of aircraft noise, such as for the EIS for NAS Whidbey Island, is accurate. In fact, according to the report, monitoring data shows jet operations often create less of an impact than modeling suggested. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)


Now for the feedback from the opposition:

The Navy describes noise exposure using the Day-Night Average Sound Level (DNL). The DNL metric expands daily noise events into a 24-hour average for an entire year. DNLs do not tell us what the loudest event is in a 24 hour period, nor how many noise events there may be in a 24 hour period. Our ears, unfortunately, do not average noise events or duration. So yes; averaging the noise level of a deafening explosion over 24 hours, and then again for an entire year, would seem to indicate that the explosion was really quiet… statistically.


New Support for Game Wardens on Washington’s Coastal Rivers

Good news: The Wild Steelhead Coalition just helped out WDFW do a better job of going after poachers.


In 2019, the Wild Steelhead Coalition donated a collection of trail cameras, spotting scopes, and a new raft and oars to the Washington Department of Fish and Game (WDFW) Law Enforcement Detachment responsible for safeguarding the rivers, coastal waters, and forests of the Olympic Peninsula and Hood Canal. These game wardens are responsible for vast amounts of territory and the equipment was immediately, and effectively, put to use by the team.

This summer the new rafts were used to great effect, providing the means to effectively patrol smaller rivers. On a day when a number of citations for violations were written, Officer Patrick Murray holds up a wild chinook an angler had kept after cutting off the adipose fin. Photo courtesy WDFW Police

Over the following two years, the cameras and raft allowed law enforcement officers to greatly expand their reach and led to increased enforcement against illegal fishing, hunting, logging, and other wildlife violations and numerous poaching arrests. Encouraged by this success, the Wild Steelhead Coalition reached out to our colleagues at the Wild Salmon Center and Wild Steelheaders United of Trout Unlimited and our friends at Simms, Outcast Boats, and Sawyer Paddles & Oars to expand the impact of the original donation with a larger, additional gift in 2021.

After working with WDFW Law Enforcement staff to ensure we provided helpful tools to enforce regulations and find poachers, our group of conservation organizations and business partners have donated a new collection of equipment that includes a pair of small one-person rafts, multiple sets of waders and boots for game wardens, new oars for an existing drift boat, almost forty trail and security cameras, and a drone. Combined, the equipment has a retail value over $20,000 and gives WDFW Law Enforcement – especially with the drone – the ability to survey a much wider geographical area, and many more miles of river, than might otherwise be possible.

This larger inventory of gear also means the cameras can be spread further afield. The new cameras will be utilized on the Olympic Peninsula, Hood Canal, and throughout the Chehalis River Basin. A few will also go to North Puget Sound where they may be deployed on the Skagit and Sauk Rivers, and other watersheds depending on the need, as well.

As fishery groups, we are particularly interested in this new equipment’s ability to provide important, necessary protections for Washington’s struggling populations of wild steelhead and salmon, but in the off-season it will all also assist WDFW Law Enforcement in their work to protect big and small game animals and non-game wildlife, prevent illegal timber harvest, and discover and document unpermitted hydraulic projects that damage watershed and shoreline habitat.

Read the rest of the story and see additional photos at:

Merry Christmas to those that celebrate it!

Hope you have a great day and get out in the outdoors for some of it!

Tribe: Court of Appeals Ruling Won’t Stop Fish Farm Attempt – PDN

The Tribe has been expanding shellfish and fin fish aquaculture in the last few years. This latest push, is an interesting issue. While the Tribe supported shutting non-native salmon fish farming, they never said they supported shutting down native salmon fish farming. This farm is for black cod, also known as Sablefish or Butterfish. It is native to the Pacific Northwest, but farming it by feeding it pellets, as they do with salmon, makes it not that appealing. Wild caught black cod is delicious, widely served in the Pacific NW. But I certainly will be asking if my black cod is wild caught or not. Not interested in eating fish raised in the backwater of Port Angeles harbor, near the pulp and paper mill.

It will be interesting to see how Ron Allen gets around the ruling. They likely would have to end the relationship with Cooke, which is a financial boon to the Tribe. We’ll continue to follow this as it unfolds.

Jamestown S’Klallam Tribal Chairman Ron Allen vowed Tuesday to move forward with plans to establish a fish farm in Port Angeles Harbor despite a recent state Court of Appeals decision upholding the termination of its business partner’s lease. The three-judge panel Dec. 14 affirmed a Thurston County Superior Court decision that struck a blow to the joint plans of the tribe and Canadian aquaculture company Cooke Pacific LLC. Paul Gottlieb reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

A Second Court Rejects Cooke Aquaculture’s Challenge Over Termination of Port Angeles Net Pen Lease

Port Angeles Netpen managed by Cook Aquaculture – Photo provided by Wild Fish Conservancy

Cook loses another one. Very good news.

Media Contacts: Kurt Beardslee, Executive Director, kurt@wildfishconservancy.org

DECEMBER 17, 2021—In another legal defeat for Cooke Aquaculture, a second Washington state court has rejected efforts by the seafood giant to sue Washington state over the termination of the company’s lease for their Port Angeles netpen operation. On Tuesday, the Court of Appeals issued an opinion affirming a lower court ruling upholding the Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) decision to terminate the lease.

The Court’s decision represents another major step forward in the public’s hard-fought efforts to remove this dirty industry from Puget Sound waters,” says Kurt Beardslee, Executive Director. “I applaud the Courts for putting our natural resources and the interest of the public ahead of this powerful corporate interest.”

The court said:

We hold that the superior court properly applied the arbitrary and capricious standard of
review because DNR’s decision to terminate the lease was administrative, and that DNR’s decision to terminate the lease was not arbitrary and capricious. Accordingly, we affirm the superior court’s final order upholding DNR’s lease termination decision.

This week’s decision concludes a nearly four-year appeal process that began in early 2018 when Cooke filed suit against DNR, arguing the agency had wrongfully terminated the lease ahead of the 2025 expiration date. In 2020, a Thurston County Superior Court Judge rejected Cooke’s challenge and the company appealed the decision to the Court of Appeals which issued the opinion this week.

DNR terminated the lease in December 2017 after an investigation revealed various violations at the Port Angeles facility,including operating outside of its boundaries, failure to pay rent timely, and not operating the facility in a safe condition.Shortly following the termination, the net pens were completely removed from Port Angeles Harbor.This week the Court overwhelming rejected Cooke’s opinion that the decision to terminate the lease was arbitrary and capricious, finding DNR’s decision “was based on facts supported by substantial evidence, pursuant to plain terms of the contract, was well reasoned and made with due regard to the facts and circumstances.”Cooke is also suing DNR in a separate ongoing lawsuit over the early termination of the company’s Cypress Island lease.The lease was terminated following the 2017 catastrophic collapse of a Cooke net pen that released over 260,000 nonnative Atlantic salmon infected with an exotic virus into Puget Sound. A comprehensive investigation by Washington agencies found Cooke at fault for the collapse and Cooke was also required to pay $2.75 million in Clean Water Act violations in a lawsuit brought by Wild Fish Conservancy. The collapse also resulted in Washington passing a landmark and widely celebrated law banning all nonnative Atlantic salmon finfish aquaculture, Cooke’s only enterprise at the time.“I hope the public will join me in thanking Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz and her department for their unwavering commitment to protecting Puget Sound in the face of Cooke’s meritless, costly, and time-consuming lawsuits,” says Beardslee. “Under Commissioner Franz’s leadership, DNR has a proven record as the only regulatory agency in Washington willing to take bold action to hold this dangerous industry accountable.”In a controversial decision, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife permitted Cooke in 2020 to begin rearing steelhead in their Puget Sound net pens where the company holds valid leases. With the Cypress Island and Port Angeles leases terminated by DNR, Cooke only holds valid leases for two net pen sites in Puget Sound. Both leases will expire next year and Cooke will need to apply and secure new leases from DNR to continue operating in Washington. In a letter to Cooke earlier this year, DNR warned the company that the agency has not yet decided if they will issue Cooke new leases.“This week’s Court decision could not have come at a more important time. With Cooke’s only existing leases set to expire next year, DNR is in a critical decision-making period that will determine the future of this industry in Puget Sound,” says Beardslee. “

The Court’s decision removes any opportunity for Cooke to try and recover millions in lost revenue from DNR, which would have provided Cooke important leverage to potentially negotiate their future and new leases in our public waters.”

In July 2020, Wild Fish Conservancy submitted official applications to DNR requesting to lease all of the sites used by Cooke for commercial net pen aquaculture. This alternative proposal, the Taking Back Our Sound Restoration Project,seeks to hold these waters in public trust for the sole purposes of restoring these polluted sites to their natural state and restoring the public’s access to over 130 acres of Puget Sound that have been restricted for private profit for over three decades. This proposal is supported by a broad-based coalition of over 100 businesses and organizations and over 6,000 individuals who have signed onto an ongoing petition to Commissioner Franz calling on DNR to not extend, renew, or reissue leases for commercial net pen aquaculture in Puget Sound and to instead lease these waters for this unprecedented restoration project.“The expiration of these leases comes only once in a decade and offers the public a rare opportunity to work together to take back our sound from the net pen industry, “says Beardslee. “Cooke’s first lease will expire in March 2022, there foreit’s critical at this time that we continue to work together to call on DNR to make the right decision for wild fish and the health of Puget Sound.

In western Washington’s Elwha River, the removal of two dams led to a resurgence of fish runs; could a similar scenario play out on the Snake River? – Lewiston Tribune

Very interesting short story by a reporter for the Lewiston Tribune who was sent to get an overview of the success of the Elwha Dam removal and how it might be applied to the Snake River dam removals. Lots of good context to the story, including comparing the John Day and the Snake, along with interview excerpts from tribal members of the Lower Elwha on restoration results. Worth a quick, read.

“What has been really exciting has not only been the increase in abundance we have seen in a lot of species, but we are starting to see new life histories arise that we didn’t see before the dams were out,” he said. “For example, summer steelhead have come back really strong, the bull trout have resumed migration back to the ocean and the king salmon are starting to produce remarkable numbers of naturally produced offspring.”

Elwha Dam – Photo by National Park Service

Jay Inslee & WA lawmakers propose electric vehicle rebates and other climate initiatives ahead of legislative session – Seattle Times

Good news on the state wide climate legislation front. Beyond helping finance electric bikes and cars for couple under $500k in income and $250k for singles, the legislation would provide economic pathways towards installing solar panels for a variety of state, local, tribal and NGOs.

Governor Inslee at COP26 (photo by Governor’s Press Office)

There has been some confusion about whether or not the state has *forced* the ending of natural gas heat in new construction. This legislation would give incentives for ending natural gas use, and proposes to end it’s use by 2034. Previous legislation to end natural gas use by 2030 died in committee last session. Nothing is certain at this point, as this is just a proposal and if readers are being told differently, I would love to see the source of that information. I have been unable to find anything saying differently, even on right wing news outlets.

“The amount of carbon emissions that we will have to reduce to meet that legally binding commitment is equivalent to the emissions of taking 1.3 million vehicles off the road,” said the governor. “We have some real work to do starting today.”


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