WA Dept of Ecology approves expansion of Navy war games activity with conditions

The Washington State Dept of Ecology has allowed the Navy to continue harrassing marine animals as they have for decades. Is it any real wonder why our Orcas are in serious decline? The death of a thousand cuts. Won’t it be a great day when we value our environment more than our military industrial complex? As if we weren’t outspending all other countries. Let’s quickly review before reviewing what the state has allowed:

The U.S. spends more than 144 other countries combined. And the U.S. spends more than the next seven countries combined.

https://www.nationalpriorities.org/blog/2019/07/18/us-spends-more-its-military-176-countries-combined/

And what does the Navy wants to do in the areas where the dwindling number of Orcas live?

• Torpedo Exercise (non-explosive; Unmanned Underwater Vehicle Training)
• At-Sea Sonar Testing
• Mine Countermeasure and Neutralization Testing
• Propulsion Testing
• Undersea Warfare Testing
• Vessel Signature Evaluation
• Acoustic and Oceanographic Research
• Radar and Other Systems Testing;
• Simulant Testing – Dispertion of chemical warfare simulation.
• Intelligence Surveillance, Reconnaissance/Electronic Warfare Triton Testing

And what does Ecology want them to do to “mitigate the possible ‘taking’ (meaning harrassment or otherwise disturbing) of 51 Orcas’ which is what the Navy themselves says might happen? Here is a partial section of the document.

Any marine mammals exposed to sonar or other acoustic effects outside of the coastal zone are not likely to remain affected if the animal were to return to the coastal zone, because the vast majority of predicted effects are temporary effects to behavior, which would no longer be present when the animal is in the coastal zone.

Active sonar is required for this activity and may result in a wide range of effects from injury to behavioral changes to loss of hearing, and depends on the frequency and duration of the source, the physical characteristics of the environment, and the species (among other complex factors).

Explosives are required for this activity. The use of explosives could result in a disturbance to behavior, or lethal or non-lethal injuries (quantitative analysis done for this activity did not predict any lethal injuries for marine mammals). Most explosives would occur in the water column, minimizing effects to habitat.

Ecology and other Washington State officials and resource agencies are concerned that, without Ecology’s conditions, the Navy’s activities will have significant long-term effects on Washington coastal resources. Given the numerous marine animals and other resources that are likely to suffer the effects from the Navy’s new activities compounded by previously authorized activities,

Ecology is highlighting the effects to the Southern Resident orcas and other large cetaceans. As described in the CD, the Navy’s
mitigation measures are insufficient to provide necessary protections to the vulnerable, declining populations of key marine mammals, particularly Southern Resident orcas, of Washington’s coastal zone and lead to the conclusion that conditions are necessary to alleviate adverse effects.
Ongoing Naval exercises in the air and water around Washington pose a serious threat to Southern Resident orcas, and the impact of new and expanded activities will further threaten this vulnerable
population. Ecology’s conditions will help minimize the threats to these animals. An icon of the Pacific Northwest, Southern Resident orcas have captured the hearts of Washington’s residents, citizens, and
visitors and hold significant cultural value for Washington’s tribes. With the apparent loss of three whales last summer 2019, Southern Resident orcas appear to have a population of just 73 whales—the lowest population level in more than 40 years. Given this declining population, the loss of even one more whale could greatly undermine recovery efforts for decades. The most up-to-date information on the Southern Resident orca population, must be relied on, and assessments of impacts must be based on current data, which projects the existing population of 73 whales. Thus, the potential harm of the Navy’s activities on this vulnerable population
has been underestimated. With such a small and shrinking population, the impact of each take is amplified within the population.


The Navy’s actions could result in a total of 51 annual “takes” a year of Southern Resident orcas in the form of Level B harassment. Given the imperiled nature of this population, this number of takes threatens a significant impact on the population from the Navy’s training and testing activities.

Furthermore, these take numbers do not account for the fact that Southern Resident orcas generally travel in pods and thus likely underestimate the potential adverse impact to this precarious population since activities could impact multiple animals at once. Additionally, three orcas appear to be carrying young, which makes them more vulnerable, as well as their future calves.

The cumulative impact of repeated exposures to the same whales over time needs to be seriously considered, and Ecology’s conditions can address these impacts. The Navy’s testing and training activities have already been authorized twice before, and are likely to continue into the future.
According to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, “Due to the longevity of Southern Resident orcas and the estimated percentage of take for the population [being] so high (68%), the effects of take will be compounded over time and may have cumulative effects, such as behavioral abandonment of key foraging areas and adverse, long term effects on hearing and echolocation.”

Instances of temporary hearing loss, such as the Temporary Threshold Shifts (TTS) can be cumulative and lead to long-term hearing loss. This could have a significant impact on Southern Resident orcas,
which rely on hearing for communication, feeding, and ship avoidance.

In addition, Level B Harassment can disrupt “migration, surfacing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering, to a point where such behavioral patterns are abandoned or significantly altered,” all behaviors critical to survival of the Southern Resident orcas. Given the many stresses already faced by
this endangered population, repeated harassment on this scale could be significant and even lead to mortality.


The Navy’s use of mid-frequency sonar can impact wildlife within 2,000 square miles and mine explosives can cause death or injury. Although these activities may affect a wide range of marinemammals, the potential impact of these activities on endangered Southern Resident orcas is of
particular concern, given their dangerously low population size. This is the third consecutiveauthorization period during which the Navy may be approved for such testing and training exercises andthese or similar activities are likely to continue for decades. For long-lived marine species, the effects oftake will be compounded over time and may have cumulative effects, such as behavioral abandonment of key foraging areas and adverse, long-term effects on hearing and echolocation. Again, the Navy finds
these effects of minor significance, a finding with which Ecology disagrees.
Gray whales are currently undergoing an unexplained die-off leading to 352 strandings between January 2019 and July 2020, including 44 strandings along the coast of Washington alone. NOAA is investigating the die-off as an Unusual Mortality Event. While it is not clear what specifically is driving this event, many animals show signs of “poor to thin body condition.”

Because the cause of the Unusual Mortality Event is unknown, the Navy cannot cite an increasing population and then assert that its activities for a
seven-year period are insignificant because the health of the gray whale population could decline.


For several species, including harbor seals, Dall’s porpoise, and harbor porpoise, the Navy’s near constant harassment every year for a seven–year period could significantly damage the population of those species. For example, the Navy’s proposal could lead to a take 30 times the abundance of the Hood Canal population of harbor seals every year, 3,084 percent of population abundance, and similarly authorizes high levels of takes for Southern Puget Sound harbor seals (168 percent of population
abundance). This high level of take could lead to interruptions in foraging that could lead to reproductive loss for female harbor seals. However, there is no analysis regarding how this harassment and loss of reproduction could affect the population as a whole, beyond an assertion that these impacts “would not be expected to adversely affect the stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival.”


The rates of take for populations of Dall’s porpoises (131 percent of population abundance) and the populations of harbor porpoises on the Northern OR/WA Coast (244 percent of population abundance)
and in Washington Inland Waters (265 percent of population abundance) are also exceptionally high.

These porpoises are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of anthropogenic sound. This level of take could also lead to reproductive loss.
The leatherback turtle is classified as endangered under the ESA and has Critical Habitat designated within the Study Area. The western Pacific leatherback sea turtle populations are particularly at risk, and
the SEIS states that (the effort to analyze population structure and distribution by distinct population segment…) is critical to focus efforts to protect the species, because the status of individual stocks varies
widely across the world. Western Pacific leatherbacks have declined more than 80 percent and eastern Pacific leatherbacks have declined by more than 97 percent since the 1980s. Because the threats to these subpopulations have not ceased, the International Union for Conservation of Nature has predicted a decline of 96 percent for the western Pacific subpopulation.”

https://apps.ecology.wa.gov/aquatics/decisions/

Volunteers trap European green crabs – PDN

The invasion continues. If you want to volunteer, you might want to talk to the folks at the Clallam County Marine Resources committee to see when they are going to be helping Emily Grason.

The invasive European green crab continues to keep a presence on the North Olympic Peninsula. The highest Peninsula counts so far this season have been on the Makah reservation on the West End, where 988 green crabs have been found, and at the Dungeness Wildlife Refuge, where volunteers have discovered 56, said marine ecologist Emily Grason, Crab Team program manager for Washington Sea Grant, last week. Those areas have had the largest totals for European green crab captures across the Salish Sea, she said. Matthew Nash reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Volunteers trap European green crabs

Concerns raised over Dungeness Spit oyster farm application

New concerns over the possible permitting of an oyster aquaculture farm within the Dungeness Spit Wildlife Refuge have been raised by the Department of the Interior, which manages the refuge. In a letter written to Steve Gray, the Clallam County Deputy Director and Planning Manager, Jennifer Brown-Scott, the Project Leader for the Department of the Interior,has raised significant questions about issues concerning the application.

Of concern to the Department are a number of issues relating to wildlife in the refuge.The applicants have asked for permission to place approx. 150,000 of “on bottom” oysters bags on the central west side of the bay, in approximately 34 acres of the tide flats 1141 acres of the the inner spit. This appears to be approx. 3.35% the inner bay area.  The applicants propose to raise non-native oysters. To be clear, a significant amount of cultivated oysters in the Salish Sea are non-native, so this is not a surprise.

The area in question was farmed prior to the 1950s, by a series of private owners. In 1953 the first lease was granted and non-native species were introduced. The Jamestown S’Klallam bought the oyster operations in 1990, and continued harvesting oysters until the State closed down the waters due to deteriorating water quality in the bay.  The Jamestown have continued leasing the site, 50 acres in size, where this current proposal is located. Since the middle of the last decade,efforts at improving the water quality of the bay continued, with the Jamestown in a lead role, helping to get scientific studies of the water flow and quality done on behalf of themselves and the county. Now the State has upgraded 688 acres to Approved status, allowing the Jamestown to apply for reopening the site to aquaculture. The presence of eelgrass beds in the location reduce it to 34 usable acres.

The Dungeness Bay Wildlife Refuge was created by Executive Order in 1915 by Woodrow Wilson. The order directs the area to be set aside as a “refuge, preserve and breeding ground for native birds and prohibits any disturbance of the birds within the reserve.” (Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe -Dungeness Bay Bathymetry, Circulation and Fecal Coliform Studies 2003)). The front page of the Refuge web site states: “Pets, bicycles, kite flying, Frisbees, ball-playing, camping, and fires are not permitted on the Refuge as they are a disturbance for the many migrating birds and other wildlife taking solitude on the Refuge.”

Within the area of the Dungeness Spit Wildlife Refuge are federally listed species that are protected or have environmental listings of concern. They include but aren’t limited to: Bull Trout, Marbled Murrelet, Puget Sound Chinook and Hood Canal Summer Chum. Also within the area is significant state listed wildlife habitat. Of somewhat lesser concern is the impact on the public to the scenic beauty of the wildlife preserve, which is one of the main reasons most visitors go to the area in the first place.

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 letter also referenced that, “In 2016, a die-off of approximately 1000 Rhinoceros Auklets on Protection Island coincided with a significant reduction in the abundance of sand lance in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.” This reporter, who has been covering the Straits since 2007, was unaware of the scope of the die off in 2016 at Protection Island though a well publicized die off due to starvation was happening from Alaska to California. The extent of the local impact was not widely known and even a search of Google cannot find a specific reference to those numbers referenced in the letter.

While the specific habitat of the Dungeness Spit was not identified as the sole source of the lack of sand lance, the implication that this area is sand lance breeding habitat means that converting its use to aquaculture could continue the downward spiral of shorebirds and their food sources.

Herring also spawn at the west end of Dungeness Harbor and the Department of Interior raised questions about protecting Strait of Juan de Fuca herring, which have been designated  “critical” (as in critically low).  Sand Lance and Surf Smelt spawning grounds are also found in the area of the application. These species have been identified as “Washington Species of Greatest Conservation Need within the State Wildlife Action Plan (WDFW 2015). A worry related to this is that these spawning fish will be competing with the oysters for plankton. A failure to find enough food could lead to a significant reduction in the survival rates. There is no know mitigation for this, other than limiting the size and scope of the project.

Additionally, Interior pointed out that a 1996 scientific study found that some shorebirds significantly avoided areas used for aquaculture in a California bay.

The area just to the east of the proposed site is the location of the highest infestation of European Green Crabs in the Salish Sea. Another concern is that the proposed oyster bags may provide habitat for green crabs, allowing them to be moved to other areas outside the Spit the bags are transported. The State still does not have a Green Crab management plan.

This shoreline has been designated “Natural” in the Critical Areas Ordinance, as far back as 1976. That designation limits activities to those that preserve the national features unchanged. One would assume that the tidelands are also part of that designation.

An issue not addressed in the application was whether or not mechanized methods such as mechanical leveling and harrowing would be used. The letter said that this was of  great concern to the Dept of Interior and it could damage or kill benthic layer animals and vegetation. Placement of these 150,000 oyster bags may also change water flow and nearshore transport of sediment, with unknown consequences. It does not appear that the applicant is going to use these methods.

A further issue that has been the reason for the inner bay to be closed to aquaculture for over a decade is that of fecal coliform (FC) bacteria. While the applicants and the State have worked for decades to identify and remove sources of FC, and current counts allow for shellfish harvest to be done, it is important to note that the applicants themselves have noted in a 2003 report that “wild birds are the second most important source of FC on a year round basis. It is especially important in winter, when their load approaches 1/2 of the measured marine water input.” It would seem to the average person that putting aquaculture into a bird reserve is by it’s very nature going to create a tension between the animals that are present and creating the problem and the desire to harvest.

Studies done by the applicants in 2003 show also that tidal turnover is not ideal in the inner bay. Their finding that states that approximately 45% of the water that leaves the inner harbor returns to the inner harbor. The study states that this “slows the effective flushing of water from the Inner Bay and leads to water quality properties that differ greatly from those observed in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It is unclear as to whether there has been a more recent study to understand if the effects of 15 years of work have improved on the findings of this earlier study.

The Salish Sea has been used for commercial aquaculture since the founding of the State, but in the last twenty years, with China becoming more middle class, along with a more sophisticated palate here in States, the demands for geoduck and other shellfish have exploded. Much of the lower reaches of the Sound have been converted into aquaculture.  The shoreline public has been upset with much of this conversion, with lawsuits against aquaculture being rather routine.  The State has never really asked the question of “how much is too much? When do we decide we have leased out enough shoreline to aquaculture?”

There is precedent for this question, in the permitting of bulkheads. At one point the State saw no problem with turning vast amounts of shoreline into concrete. As our understanding of the use of the shore for forage fish and beach creation, among other natural processes, we decided to limit bulkhead conversion and opt to look at natural ways to protect the shoreline from erosion. Some, such as a conversion to natural shoreline was done about 15 years ago just east of the mouth of the Dungeness River, in a subdivision along the shore.

NOAA and other government agencies have studied just enough of the issue to deem aquaculture ‘safe’ yet hold out no significant long term studies of the possible ill effects of the conversion to single species farming.  The NOAA science and subsequent scientific studies by Sea Grant, were of limited time frame and called for further study, which does not appear to have been done.  In fact, this very location offers a good example of the need to look at what the substrate is like, both at the site, which once was extensively farmed, and the surrounding bottom layers. It should be able to tell us how much recovery could be anticipated if the farm does go in and eventually is removed. It is interesting to note that eel grass is present around the site, but apparently not in the very location of the previous aquaculture operation.

It is certainly reasonable for the applicants to want to return to aquaculture in the Bay, however the scale is being significantly increased. Science has learned a lot about the environment since the time when the State allowed the use in this location. In many other locations we have decided that the trade off of commercial activity is outweighed by a newer appreciation of the value of the natural landscape for a variety of species.  It is up to all of us to question our elected officials and bureaucrats, not the applicants, as to why they believe that this is in all our best interests, when we so clearly have set this aside this location for wildlife protection and enhancement.

  • If you want to comment on this application, you have until April 27.
  • Responses to those comments must be in by May 18.
  • The last public hearing will be held June 7 at 1 PM.

Send comments to gballard@co.clallam.wa.us and be sure to ask for an email confirmation of having received your comment. If you don’t get one within 24 hours, call Greg Ballard at 360.565.2616 to ask if he received it.

A final note to consider is from the web site of the Dungeness National Refuge:

Recognizing the importance of the fertile habitats, President Woodrow Wilson established the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge on January 20, 1915 as a refuge, preserve, and breeding ground for native birds. Today the graceful arch of Dungeness Spit continues to protect nutrient-rich tide-flats for migrating shorebirds in spring and fall; a quiet bay with calm waters for wintering waterfowl; an isolated beach for harbor seals and their pups; and abundant eelgrass beds for young salmon and steelhead nurseries.

Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge is open to the public year-round. Hiking, wildlife viewing, and photography are popular activities on the Refuge. Some portions are closed seasonally or permanently to protect sensitive species. To ensure that wildlife continue to have a peaceful place to rest and feed, certain recreational activities such as swimming, jogging, and other beach activities are allowed only in selected areas during certain times of the year. Pets, bicycles, kite flying, Frisbees, ball-playing, camping, and fires are not permitted on the Refuge as they are a disturbance for the many migrating birds and other wildlife taking solitude on the Refuge.

 

 

 

 

Mussels on drugs found near Victoria sewage outfalls – CBC

For years, Victorians of all political stripes have been discounting their lack of a sewage system. Every time I’ve put a story up here, a couple of Victorians have, out of the blue, weighed in. I’ve even heard younger Victorians, who claim to be “green” tell me to my face that, “it’s no big deal” that their raw sewage has been pouring into the Strait for decades after every other city on the Strait and Salish Sea seems to have put in tertiary or secondary treatment systems. I rarely ever challenge them when they do that, as it’s pointless to argue with people who refuse to even look at scientific data. Well, the CBC finally looked into it, and the unfortunate joke is on them, as they have likely been poisoning themselves and their children if they have been eating any of the shellfish or bottom feeders from the area around their city.

As stated in the article, the sewage treatment plant *should* remove many of these chemicals. Now it is up to the local environmental departments to get the message out that people should not be dumping their pharmaceuticals and other chemicals down the sink or in the toilet. My hope is that, in some distant time, we will actually stop dumping *all* our wastes into the Straits and Salish Sea. Composting toilets have advanced to a place where we should be able to end the expensive and stupid habit that we have picked up in the last 100 years. While it was an improvement over what came before it, we have paid a price for it. There are no free lunches.

Monitoring by the Capital Regional District has found high concentrations of antidepressants, as well as other pharmaceuticals and personal care products in shellfish near the sewage outfalls around Victoria.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/sewage-victoria-crd-drugs-contamination-mussels-pharmaceuticals-1.4537222?utm_source=Sightline%20Institute&utm_medium=web-email&utm_campaign=Sightline%20News%20Selections

Elwha Roaring Back to Life – Seattle Times

Great aerial photography of the new Elwha river and a wonderful story with illustrations. While the jury is still out on the long term viability of the returning salmon runs, it does appear, at this early point, that the project is a success. But we won’t know for sure for probably at least 30 years. In the meantime, enjoy the view, and give thanks to the Lower Elwha Tribe, and the individuals and politicians of both parties here on the Peninsula that supported this effort, funded it, and are helping to restore it. The whole world is really watching this one.

 

ELWHA RIVER — The Elwha watershed is booming with new life, after the world’s largest dam removal.

The first concrete went flying in September 2011, and Elwha Dam was out the following March. Glines Canyon Dam upriver tumbled for good in September 2014. Today the river roars through the tight rock canyon once plugged by Elwha Dam, and surges past the bald, rocky hill where the powerhouse stood. The hum of the generators is replaced by the river singing in full voice, shrugging off a century of confinement like it never happened. Nature’s resurgence is visible everywhere.

http://projects.seattletimes.com/2016/elwha/

National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), propose to designate critical habitat for three species of rockfish in Puget Sound & Strait

Big news. The Federal Government is proposing designating critical habitat for certain rockfish. Public comment now open. Comments on this proposed rule must be received by 5 p.m. P.S.T. on November 4, 2013. Requests for public hearings must be made in writing by September 20, 2013. Comments close on 11/04/2013. The Feds say “Puget Sound” but actually are also including some areas of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. To them, it’s apparently all the same. They delineate it deeper in the document.  From the people I’ve talked to close to this decision, this has been studied a great deal and a lot of meetings have been held getting to this decision.  It likely will raise some objections, likely intense. But the stocks are in such critical shape in many places,  this appears to be needed. It’s not a new issue, the fact that the Feds have finally moved on it is. Hopefully (and apparently) we still have time to save some of them.  As you may or may not know, rockfish do not migrate. They hang out in their habitat, and can live  a long long time. They are often bycatch of other fisheries, and if you bring them up from a great depth, they end up often getting ‘the bends’ (barimetric poisoning) and die.

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), propose to designate critical habitat for three species of rockfish listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), including the threatened Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of yelloweye rockfish (Sebastes ruberrimus), the threatened DPS of canary rockfish (S. pinniger), and the endangered DPS of bocaccio (S. paucispinus) (listed rockfish). The specific areas proposed for designation for canary rockfish and bocaccio include approximately 1,184.75 sq mi (3,068.5 sq km) of marine habitat in Puget Sound, Washington. The specific areas proposed for designation for yelloweye rockfish include approximately 574.75 sq mi (1,488.6 sq km) of marine habitat in Puget Sound, Washington. We propose to exclude some particular areas from designation because the benefits of exclusion outweigh the benefits of inclusion and exclusion of those areas will not result in the extinction of the species.

https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2013/08/06/2013-18832/endangered-and-threatened-species-designation-of-critical-habitat-for-yelloweye-rockfish-canary

 

And more from Mike Satos’ blog:

The National Marine Fisheries Service proposes to designate almost 1,200 square miles of Puget Sound as critical habitat for three species of endangered rockfish. The habitat protection follows the 2010 decision to list yelloweye, canary and bocaccio rockfish under the Endangered Species Act. The Fisheries Service says the rockfish are vulnerable to overfishing because they have long lives and mature slowly with sporadic reproduction. Tuesday’s designation will require federal agencies to make sure their actions don’t harm rockfish habitat. The protected area in Puget Sound overlaps existing critical habitat for Puget Sound Chinook and Hood Canal summer-run chum, bull trout and Southern Resident killer whales. Critical habitat listed for Puget Sound rockfish http://kplu.org/post/critical-habitat-listed-puget-sound-rockfish Also, if they haven’t erected a paywall, Chris Dunagan reports: Habitat protection proposed for endangered rockfish in Puget Sound http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2013/aug/06/habitat-protection-proposed-for-endangered-in/#axzz2bGUhM000

 

Derelict Fishing Gear Funding Received – NW Straits Foundation News

The Northwest Straits Foundation received $660,000 to finish the job of removing derelict fishing nets from shallow subtidal waters of Puget Sound. The Foundation estimates there are 500 shallow water derelict nets left to remove. The Foundation is aiming to complete the work by December 31, 2013. Funding comes from the US Environmental Protection Agency through the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. This funding will be combined with current and pledged funding from the Salmon Recovery Funding Board, NOAA Marine Debris Program, ConocoPhillips Migratory Bird Fund, US Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program, Lucky Seven Foundation, Tulalip Tribes and private donations.

The new funding also pays for a new response and retrieval program designed to prevent future re-accumulations of derelict nets by responding to reports of newly lost nets immediately. The Foundation will be developing this new program in close coordination with the Puget Sound fisheries co-managers.

Washington poised to get tougher with shellfish operators

3/1 KPLU-FM
By Austin Jenkins and KPLU News Staff

Last summer, we brought you a story about gaps in the system that’s supposed to keep Washington shellfish safe to eat. Now state lawmakers appear ready to get tougher with shellfish operators who violate food safety laws.

Early last year, Washington Fish and Wildlife cops shut down a Hood Canal shellfish harvesting operation. They allege G&R Seafood poached $500,ooo worth of oysters and clams from state and private beaches.

But Fish and Wildlife police say even after the business was raided, the company’s owner – who denies any wrongdoing – was spotted selling shellfish at fairs and other public gatherings. But Chief Deputy Mike Cenci says there was nothing his officers could do since it was G&R’s harvesting license <http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/>  that had been yanked:

More at
http://www.kplu.org/post/washington-poised-get-tougher-shellfish-operators

Retiree ‘matriarch’ of North Olympic Peninsula environmental community

Editor note: If you are a recent resident to the Olympic Peninsula, you should read this whole article to better understand the history of the last 25 years on this place. The hard fought battles for Protection Island by Eleanor Stopps, and the ones discussed in this article about Dr. Eloise Kailin are history that is rarely available on the Internet. Enjoy.

*11/28/10 Peninsula Daily News

Retiree ‘matriarch’ of North Olympic Peninsula environmental community

By Jeff Chew
Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM — Dr. Eloise Kailin helped fight against a nuclear power plant on the Miller Peninsula east of Sequim — and won.

That was in 1973 and led to the formation of the nonprofit Protect the Peninsula’s Future, the North Olympic Peninsula’s longest-standing environmental group.

Today, the group tackles issues affecting health, wildlife habitat and quality of life in the region, while Kailin remains active in environmental battles while sharing a 4-acre farm off River Road with her son, Harvey, where the two have built a commercial kitchen to produce apple butter.

Bob Lynette, a retired conservation lobbyist and renewable energy consultant who has worked with Kailin on the PPF board for 12 years, sees the 91-year-old retired physician as the original driving force behind Peninsula environmental activism.

Read the whole story at: http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20101128/news/311289983/retiree-matriarch-of-north-olympic-peninsula-environmental-community

Superb video on local ocean acidification

Check out this 9 minute video from Oregon Public Broadcasting on the effects of ocean acidification on shellfish and animals at Tatoosh and the Oregon coast. A very good narrative of what’s happening to us right in our backyard of Tatoosh, and Hood Canal for that matter.

http://ecotrope.opb.org/2010/10/video-what-makes-oyster-larvae-unhappy/

New beach for Port Angeles voiced at idea session – PDN

10/22 Peninsula Daily News

By Tom Callis
Peninsula Daily News

EDITOR’S NOTE — Click to see the 43-page presentation to the Port Angeles City Council on the proposed Port Angeles Waterfront and Transportation Improvement Plan: http://issuu.com/peninsuladailynews/docs/ptcitycouncil.3.15.00

PORT ANGELES — The idea of establishing a beach east of the Valley Creek estuary received enthusiastic support from the City Council on Thursday during a discussion of a proposed waterfront and transportation improvement plan.

David Roberts, a state Department of Natural Resources aquatic lands assistant manager, suggested creating a beach there during the public comment portion of the meeting.

The shore between Oak Street and the estuary is one of the areas slated for a makeover under the plan, which focuses on the waterfront but also will result in new entryway monuments on the west and east entrances to Port Angeles, new “wayfinding” signs to direct traffic and pedestrians to points of interest and shopping, and a citywide transportation study.

More at
http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20101022/NEWS/310229988/new-beach-for-port-angeles-voiced-at-idea-session-and-click-to-see

Coast Guard Bill – Huge win for protection of the Strait!

-Update – Chris Dunagan goes into detail on this bill. This is really significant and is one of the most important pieces of legislation to help us protect our coasts since the Magnuson Act. Read the overview at

http://pugetsoundblogs.com/waterways/2010/10/10/coast-guard-bill-covers-safety-and-budget-issues/

President Obama is expected to sign a sweeping authorization bill that reorganizes U.S Coast Guard operations, increases maritime safety rules and calls for improved oil-spill prevention and response in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. 

This bill has been blocked for over a year, so this is great news. It is a great win for everyone who fishes, or makes a living off people enjoying the Straits. Thanks are in order to Senator Cantwell and Senator Murray, as well as all the other people behind the scenes who pushed this, like Fred Felleman,  People For Puget Sound, The Makah Nation, and many others. This has been a major effort for over 10 years. It is sad that it took losing the Gulf to get this over the hump, but we are there. Now to the House for a final vote. This also will help better protect fishermen who have the most dangerous job in America.

9/30 Seattle Times
Bill OK’d that overhauls fishing-industry safety, protects Sound
Seattle Times staff
The U.S. Senate late Wednesday night unanimously approved a Coast Guard authorization bill that includes a major overhaul of federal fishing-industry safety laws, and measures to strengthen efforts to prevent Puget Sound oil spills.
The bill was expected to soon be approved by the House of Representatives and sent to the President Obama for signing.
“It has been nearly four years in the making to get this important legislation through Congress,” said Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wa., who chaired a Senate subcommittee with jurisdiction over the legislation. “This bill establishes new safety laws on oil-spill prevention and fishing vessel safety so that we can continue to operate in these pristine waters in a safe and effective manner.
…. The oil-spill provisions will include measures to expand oil-spill response capabilities around the entrance of Strait of Juan de Fuca and increase the role of Indian tribes in the response effort. The legislation will result in oil-spill response equipment, including booms and barriers, positioned along the strait.
Approximately 600 oil tankers and 3,000 oil barges travel each year through Puget Sound and carry about 15 billion gallons of oil to Washington refineries, according to Cantwell.
More at
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2013032351_webcoastguardbill.html

No, Double Hull Tankers Do Not Ensure ‘Total Safety’

While this is an old story from last June, it’s only now come to our attention, and needs being shared.

From our friends north of the border on the Tyee Opinion. The whitewash from the Canadian government  and the oil industry on tanker safety in the Straits.

While 65 oil tankers traversed Burrard Inlet last year,  it’s not clear how many single hull vessels currently traverse Burrard Inlet. Is BC providing escort tugs for all these tankers?

While tankers in the US need escort tugs, freighters have never needed them. And what’s missing in this analysis is that in 2012 escort tugs come off US  tankers (not freighters) in the US, as the Magnuson act only protected us from single hull tankers. The fact that an incident hasn’t yet happened is cold comfort given the disasters in Alaska in 79, the huge number of tanker and freighter sinkings since 79, and even San Francisco’s calamity just last winter. Canada’s lackluster investigation and lack of transparency on the sinking of a ferry a year or so ago shows that the government cannot be trusted.

The issue of Canada protection for the Straits is huge. Canada has never taken adequate protection of the Straits, relying on the US to protect the whole waterway. This whole ‘special meeting’ seems like a whitewash, as just last November the Canadian government and Coast Guard was caught unawares as a freighter that was anchored at Mayne Inlet in Plumper Sound drug anchor and narrowly avoided a disaster. Captain Brown’s statement in the following article  is total PR BS, frankly, and the kind of whitewash that we have seen over the years from countless other officials of industry and the government of many countries just prior to major spills.

Last winter, as I and a few other small news organizations watched the Plumper Sound event unfold, Canadian officials were in the dark, unaware, and had to be contacted by US officials who were alerted to the issue by citizens. There were 1.2 million gallons of fuel on this freighter!  It was over a day before the Canadians had a clue, and it was not reported on any major news outlet in Canada for at least 72 hours! So excuse me if I’m underwhelmed by the government official and B.C. Chamber Stewart pronouncements….If a major disaster occurs, it will affect us as well as Canada.

Let’s be clear, a major tanker or freighter spill in the Straits or the Straits of Georgia can undo hundreds of billions of dollars of environmental work, and decades of protection efforts on our marine habitat. We cannot let PR doublespeak like this go unchallenged. There is an agenda here of trying to expand the tanker traffic for the Alberta Tar Sands pipeline for sales to China. This is all about money, not environmental safety.

more on that old story here:
https://olyopen.wordpress.com/2009/11/20/update-on-canadian-tanker-grounding/

Here is the current crop of governmental bs as appropriately covered by the Tyee Opinion

___________________________________________________

9/27 The Tyee Opinion
Contrary to industry reassurances, Vancouver faces increasing risks of oil spill.
By Mitch Anderson
Is it safe? That was the question posed last July when Mayor Gregor Robertson convened a special meeting of Vancouver city council to discuss increased oil tanker traffic through the treacherous waters of Burrard Inlet.
Vancouver has quietly become <http://thetyee.ca/News/2010/06/03/VancouverOilTankers>  a major oil port, as the capacity of the Kinder Morgan pipeline from Alberta to Burnaby has recently been scaled up to 300,000 barrels per day. Every week several oil tankers squeeze through Second Narrows at the highest tides with less than two metres of water under the keel. These shipments have doubled over the last two years.
At the July meeting, Captain Stephen Brown of the B.C. Chamber of Shipping assured the city that these transits were happening in "total safety" and that "We have yet to have a pollution incident from a double hull tanker."
More at
http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2010/09/27/DoubleHullTankers/

Huge Humboldt Squid (NOT) found in Discovery Bay!

Geoduck farmer Peter Downey called to tell me that he found an 11 foot long Humboldt Squid (Dosidicus gigas) washed up on his beach on the 26th. Actually, it appears that it may have been a robust clubhook squid, according to some Stanford marine biologists that corrected me!  The squid is not usually found around these waters, but one was caught about a year ago, if my memory serves me well. Downey has a commercial scale, so he weighed the thing in at 59 lbs (!).  Peter took the squid to the Port Townsend Marine Science Center. No idea what the center will do with it, but it’s the largest they’ve seen. Photos by Peter.

Dept of Ecology Sends Oil Spill Equipment to Gulf – NW oil spill safety net frayed

A fallout of the Gulf fiasco is now that our state is sending both Navy oil skimming vessels, temporarily lowered our oil spill preparedness standards,  and sent essentially our  entire stock of boom and dispersants to the Gulf as well as barges that could be used in the event of a spill here.  This seems like a very bad idea. While personnel can be rapidly deployed, the notion of emptying our supplies and lowering standards is exactly the wrong idea. Accidents and mechanical failure are what this is all about. You have to be prepared for accidents. By emptying our stocks for this futile effort in cleaning up the Gulf, it leaves us more vulnerable to it happening here. We have this beautiful environment here because we didn’t lower our standards or enforcement, we raised them! The Gulf is in this predicament because they have allowed themselves to be controlled by the oil industry and it’s cheerful, “can’t ever happen here” lobbyists and spokespeople, and regulators who lowered the standards!.  We need to not let our guard down. The tragedy in the Gulf is not going to be changed one bit by our sending all our supplies there, but it could be a fiasco for us.

Update – 7 July: It appears that DOE is also considering  sending our rescue tug to the Gulf. I am checking today with DOE on this and other issues.  It appears that neither the Port of Port Townsend, nor county officials were alerted in advance, nor asked if this was a concern to them locally. Discussions appear to be under way with the State, the Feds, our elected federal officials, the Navy, the Tribes and others. There should be clarification on this coming later today, or tomorrow.

——————————————————————————————

OLYMPIA – Navy Region Northwest will soon send five oil-skimming vessels to help with the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill response in the Gulf of Mexico, pending receipt of Washington Department of Ecology’s (Ecology) official notification on Tuesday, July 6.

Oil-skimming vessels collect oil spilled on water. The Navy earlier sent two of its nine skimmers as well as several smaller work boats from Washington to the Gulf.

Ecology regulates two Navy oil-transfer facilities in Puget Sound. The Navy will keep its two remaining Puget Sound skimmers at their regular stations.

Ecology and the Navy have agreed that the Navy will maintain standing measures, and add interim measures, to help prevent and be sufficiently prepared for any spills that might occur in Washington while the skimmers are helping the Gulf response. These standing or interim measures include:

  • Continuing the requirement for all Navy vessels to be pre-boomed while in port, even if the vessel is not being fueled.
  • Restricting fuel transfers over water to daylight hours – unless there is a documented necessity to support an operational mission. Non-daylight transfers must be approved by a Navy on-scene spill coordinator.
  • Following established Navy directives, orders and other measures that already apply to fuel transfers while in port. These include enhanced staffing levels during all fuel transfers, to include having supervisory personnel on deck and watching from topside to prevent spills. It also means ensuring fueling crews are fully qualified in the Navy’s spill prevention and response procedures.
  • If an oil or hazardous material spill occurs, the Navy must ask the U.S. Coast Guard to activate the services of the Marine Spill Response Corp., National Response Corp. or other private spill-response contractors in Washington to assist with response equipment and personnel. The Coast Guard has confirmed this action will be taken, if requested. Both Ecology and the Coast Guard have agreed to adopt an aggressive, enhanced response posture until the Navy equipment returns from the Gulf.
  • Updating the Navy’s state oil-spill contingency plan that outlines the response actions it will take to minimize environmental impacts from a spill.

“We believe these spill prevention and preparedness measures will help ensure Navy is ready and capable of mounting a rapid, aggressive and well-coordinated response to any spill that might occur while their skimmers are out helping with the Gulf spill response,” said Ecology Spills Program Manager Dale Jensen.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Coast Guard and Environmental Protection Agency announced they had lowered federal oil-spill preparedness standards, including cleanup equipment, to get more resources – especially skimming vessels and other skimming systems – to the Gulf.

The new temporary measures require industry and entities like the Navy to maintain enough equipment to respond to a much more modest but more likely spill of 2,100 gallons.

Washington state law, however, requires the oil industry and other entities that transfer large amounts of fuel over state waters, to be able to respond to a worst-case spill scenario. In some instances, that means oil-handling facilities must be prepared to respond to spills involving millions of gallons of oil and other petroleum products.

Jensen said Ecology has received numerous requests by private spill contractors to send equipment to the Gulf. Ecology quickly established a process to track and evaluate each request from the regulated community. The state agency also is tracking what its federal response partners, including the U.S. Coast Guard and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, have sent.

Ecology has let experienced response personnel, the state’s entire stock of about 15,000 gallons of chemical dispersants and 1,400 feet of fireproof oil boom, several shallow water barge systems, and more than 50,000 feet of oil containment boom go to the Gulf so far. See how Washington is helping the Gulf spill response.

Jensen said, “We are doing all we can to help our neighbors in the Gulf while preserving a core level of spill response readiness in Washington. It also means, however, that everyone must be extra vigilant about keeping oil out of Washington’s waters. It doesn’t matter if you’re at the helm of an oil tanker or if you’re a weekend boater. We need your help in preventing all oil spills, regardless of size.”

A 2004 draft study commissioned by Ecology estimates that if a major spill were to occur in Washington waters, the state could suffer nearly $11 billion in economic losses, and more than 165,000 jobs across the state would be adversely affected, along with the environmental damage.

On May 10, Ecology and the Marine Spill Response Corp. held unannounced oil-spill response drills in five critical locations in Puget Sound to test the company’s agreement with Global Diving & Salvage Inc. to temporary backfill for more than 25 experienced responders as well equipment MSRC had sent to the Gulf. The call-out test was successful.

Major action by U.S. Senate to help Puget Sound

We still need to get this bill passed. The bill now moves to the Senate floor for a vote. – editor

July 1, 2010

OLYMPIA – The Federal Government today took a major step to augment the monumental collaborative efforts already underway to restore Puget Sound by 2020.  The Puget Sound Recovery Act, sponsored by Senator Maria Cantwell and co-sponsored by Senator Patty Murray, is designed to strengthen cleanup of the Puget Sound. It won the approval Wednesday of the key Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works (EPW).
“As the second largest estuary in the nation and the core of our region’s identity and prosperity, it is absolutely critical to restore and preserve this important body of water for generations to come,” Senator Cantwell said. “With the passage of the Puget Sound Recovery Act, the ongoing cleanup of Puget Sound will benefit significantly from the creation of a federal grant program to support a more comprehensive effort and complement the great work of the Puget Sound Partnership. I am proud that with the committee’s passage, we have taken a significant step toward restoring Puget Sound and protecting everything from animal habitats, to tourism, to our precious environment and our regional economy.”
"Yesterday’s passage is an important step in giving Puget Sound the protection it deserves," said Governor Gregoire. "I applaud Senator Cantwell and Senator Murray for their leadership and continued support as this bill moves forward."
“This is a big step forward,” said David Dicks, executive director of the Puget Sound Partnership. “We are on the path to move from the kids’ table to the big table with the Great Lakes and the Chesapeake Bay in terms of the federal government’s commitment to our national treasure – Puget Sound.”  
The Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay and a handful of other “great water bodies” have enjoyed formal Clean Water Act “program” status for years, ensuring consistent federal attention and funding.  
Achieving this federal status was one of the goals that Governor Gregoire and the Washington State Legislature had in mind in 2007 when they created the Puget Sound Partnership and mandated the creation of an Action Agenda to restore Puget Sound by 2020.  That plan was finished in December 2008 and has been widely supported.
Recognizing Washington’s leadership, the Puget Sound Recovery Act takes a new approach that would provide the national attention and strong federal involvement, up to $90 million per year, while supporting Washington State’s leadership and existing stakeholder effort.
“Federal support will be tethered to the Action Agenda’s priorities and therefore result in greater coordination and leverage for both State and Federal efforts.  This codifies our Action Agenda’s citizen-based effort.  I applaud Senators Cantwell and Murray for this achievement” said David Dicks.  
Bill Ruckelshaus, chairman of the Puget Sound Partnership’s Leadership Council and the first head of EPA, said “We in Washington State greatly appreciate the efforts of this committee to fashion legislation that will put the federal government on a course to play a major supportive role in the restoration of Puget Sound.  Congressman Dicks and Senators Murray and Cantwell have already helped get a major increase in federal funding, this bill will take the Puget Sound Partnership’s efforts to the next level.”
The bill now moves to the Senate floor. 

Dungeness Crab Mortality Due to Derelict Pots

From the NW Straits June Newsletter

People at the Crab Mortality PresentationJeff June, Natural Resources Consultants, is the derelict fishing gear removal field manager for the Northwest Straits Foundation. Jeff presented results from the recent study of Dungeness crab mortality from derelict pots supported by the Stillaguamish Tribe and Northwest Straits Foundation.

Jeff reported that the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife estimates that 12,193 crab pots are lost each year in Puget Sound. Each lost crab pot without escape cord kills approximately 30 crabs each year until deterioration. Jeff provided several ways to prevent crab pot loss:

· Don’t fish in marine transit zones

· Weight your pots so they don’t move in high currents

· Make sure line is long enough for the depth you are fishing

· Use multiple floats in high current areas

· Don’t set pots too close together

· Always use escape cord – 120 thread count is regulation but a better rule of thumb is to use 1/8 inch diameter cord.

· Report lost pots

A recent change in regulations allows enforcement agents to ticket crabbers for transporting illegal pots on marine waters, instead of only ticketing for actively fishing illegal pots. Jeff explained that there are some areas of concentrated accumulation of crab pots that will be targeted for this enforcement.

Click here for a pdf copy of the presentation.

Crab Management in Washington State

From the NW Straits June Newsletter

Rich Childers, Shellfish Manager with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, recently gave a presentation on the management of Puget Sound’s Dungeness crab fishery. This is one of the most complex fisheries in the world to manage, involving 17 tribes and three natural resource agencies. This year the state will assess a $10.00 penalty for failure to report crab catch, in an effort to more accurately estimate the recreational harvest. Rich reported that the crab fishery is sustainable, and currently all marine areas except for South Hood Canal have the highest catches on record.

Click here for a pdf of Rich’s presentation.

If you are interested in crabbing at all,you should read Rich’s great presentation.

Rockfish Conservation Plan needs comments by May 21st. Please help.

Support efforts to protect the dwindling rockfish population in Puget Sound and the Straits. 

Revised Puget Sound Rockfish Conservation Plan Comments due Friday, May 21st

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has issued the Revised Draft of the Puget Sound Rockfish Conservation Plan (PSRCP). New comments are needed in support the Revised Plan because it is substantially better in scope and application. This revised plan covers all of Puget Sound and creates Marine Reserves and Rockfish Conservation Areas where rockfish stocks and species are specifically protected. Marine reserves and Rockfish Conservation Areas are a network of protected marine habitats. Inside these areas, fishing is totally prohibited or severely restricted. This network of protected habitats will allow all Endangered Species of Puget Sound to rebuild their populations. Because there is always considerable political contention surrounding depressed fisheries and yet another restrictive management plan, adoption of the Revised Plan will require strong support from the environmental community and the public. Please support WDFW’s Revised Puget Sound Rockfish Conservation Plan by sending letters and emails of support before Friday May 21st at 5PM. Include the name of the proposal and your name in the subject line of your comment. For example; “Revised Puget Sound Rockfish Conservation Plan – John Doe.”

The important points to discuss are; a). The Revised Plan is clearly the most proactive plan the WDFW has ever done to protect and restore the fisheries and ecosystems of Puget Sound. b). Puget Sound has the most depressed fisheries in North America and Washington has the longest list (51) of endangered marine species. c). The revised plan is part of a larger nationwide political movement toward Ecosystem Based Management (EBM). EBM recognizes that ecosystem connections exist amongst all living things and human activities and habitat protection. EBM will guide our uses of the oceans and coasts so they are used and managed sustainably. EBM is clearly the future for managing all of our natural marine resources. d). Sierra Club supports the Preferred Action Alternative proposed by the WDFW. e). Emphasize that we need “No Take” marine reserves to protect marine habitats and help restore all endangered species. f). Modern fishing technology allows fishermen to identify and take fish from any habitat or site in Puget Sound. We need sites protected to protect vulnerable species. g). Ask the WDFW to hold local public meetings each time a marine reserve (MR) or rockfish conservation area (RCA) is proposed. h). Also ask them to promote the restoration potential of “No Take” marine reserves. Lastly, get ready to participate in those meetings and support “No Take” Marine Reserves. Many fishermen will oppose the creation of marine reserves.

 The restoration of Puget Sound ecosystems and sustainable fisheries are at stake. Submit your comments in one of the followings ways:

 Email to SEPAdesk2@dfw.wa.gov;

  Online at the WDFW website comment link at: http://www.wdfw.wa.gov/hab/sepa/sepa.htm;

 Fax to 360- 902-2946  Mail to; WDFW Responsible Official Teresa A. Eturaspe, SEPA/NEPA Coordinator Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife 600 Capitol Way Olympia, WA 98501-1091

Tug(s) comes to aid of container ship

Got reports on Wednesday of two tugs assisting a freighter, but was in Sequim and missed getting a shot. Chris Dunagan reports on it in his column today, with a nice photo by Fred Felleman, the guy who spearheaded the legislative work on the tug. Thanks again to Kevin Van De Wege for helping get it passed last year. Now we need to get the funding finished. Still in limbo!

http://pugetsoundblogs.com/waterways/2010/03/03/container-ship-captain-calls-for-tug-assistance/

%d bloggers like this: