Puget Sound Partnership on the Governor’s proposed 2019-2021 biennial budget

 

Statement from Director Sheida Sahandy on the Governor’s proposed 2019-2021 biennial budget
Governor Inslee’s budget proposal revealed today demonstrates his strong commitment to recovering Southern Resident orcas, salmon, and the Puget Sound ecosystem.  The ecological condition of Puget Sound came into sharp focus last summer as Talequah, one of our few remaining Southern Resident orcas, carried her dead calf on her head through a mourning journey that lasted 17 days. 

 

Ecosystem decline is the result of thousands of decisions that have, directly or indirectly, negatively impacted our shared resources.  Getting to recovery and resiliency will similarly take thousands of decisions that take us in the right direction of achieving and maintaining a thriving Puget Sound.  Ongoing recovery work over the years has helped to mitigate the decline, with some very positive results, but much greater investment is needed to definitively alter course.

 

The investments proposed by the Governor will go far in helping us turn the corner on sustaining the Puget Sound ecosystem and the creatures we share it with. These investments align with two significant, collaborative, science-based bodies of work: the recommendations of the Southern Resident Task Force and the Puget Sound Action Agenda.

 

Investments in Puget Sound recovery are critical to the survival of orcas and salmon. They also boost our region’s economic vitality and agricultural sustainability, enable maintenance of our abilities to fish and recreate, and help us to ensure the quality of life that draws and keeps people to this region.  These investments also support our shared obligations to the reserved treaty rights of the tribes in Puget Sound.

 

We hope the legislature supports and funds these critical investments.   

Congress OKs bill to allow killing sea lions to help salmon – Seattle Times

The knee jerk reaction to killing sea lions to theoretically ease the amount of endangered salmon that are being eaten by them passed Congress two days ago. While not based in science, this has been done at the behest of a variety of groups that see the sea lions as the problem. White sports fishermen, some tribes. The likelihood of this succeeding in any meaningful way has not been proven. But killing something always seems like a good solution to many.

https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/congress-oks-bill-to-allow-killing-sea-lions-to-help-salmon/?utm_source=RSS&utm_medium=Referral&utm_campaign=RSS_nation-world

 

 

Plastic Oceans Plastic Bags State Kicks off Campaign for a Statewide Reusable Bag Bill – PRX and others

Washington State Lawmakers are poised to work with environmental groups to push for a ban on plastic non resuseable or recycleable plastic bags this year. Australia just announced that they have reduced plastic bag use (think those white bags used at grocery stores for casual shopping) by 80% for the year. Given how much plastics we are finding in *all* our waters, as well as in our fish, this is a small but critical thing *everyone* can do. Let’s just do it!

According to the Washington State Environmental Coalition:

Thin plastic bags are used for only a few minutes and discarded. Only 6% of these bags are ever recycled. Plastic bags blow into our waterways and the ocean, clog the stomachs of wildlife, and break down into smaller pieces that also get eaten. Plastic bags also clog recycling equipment – costing money because they have to be extracted – and are the major contaminant in our commercial compost. The Reusable Bag Act would eliminate thin carry-home plastic bags at all retail establishments and include a pass-through charge to motivate people to bring their own reusable bags and help cover the stores’ cost of more expensive bags.

and from PRX

The campaign for a reusable statewide bag bill kicked off this month. Environmental organizations and their legislative allies hope to build off existing 23 local ordinances already in place in Washington and introduce the bill in the 2019 legislative session. Proponents say there are more than 86 million metric tons of plastic in our oceans with the equivalent of five grocery bags of plastic trash for every foot of coastline spilling into oceans annually. Martha Baskin reports. (PRX)

Plastic Oceans Plastic Bags State Kicks off Campaign for a Statewide Reusable Bag Bill

 

Zangle Cove Lawsuit Issues Bombshell Findings Against Aquaculture

The case moving through the courts at the present time to challenge the lack of Hydraulic Code Permits for the destruction of shorelines by aquaculture got a surprise boost yesterday.

Findings that contradict the testimony of the Army Corp of Engineers and Taylor Shellfish show that in 2017 the Army Corps had to create a Cumulative Impact Analysis that showed conclusively that there would be significant impacts from adoption of a Nation Wide Aquaculture Permit. The 117 page draft concluded that their would be significant impacts if adopted. The Corps has categorically denied such impacts.

The Corps admits that the aquaculture is likely to “adversely affect designated critical habitat for several species listed under the ESA including Puget Sound Chinook salmon, Hood Canal summer chum salmon and Puget Sound Steelhead…Given the magnitude of the the impacts in acreage the importance of eelgrass to the marine ecosystem and the scale of the aquaculture impacts relative to other stressors, the impacts are considered significant.”

The letter goes on: The proposed action is inconsistent with State requirements under the SMA to protect forage fish spawning habitat.”

The debate has been that the Army Corps of Engineers nor the State have ever considered the cumulative impact of aquaculture permitting on the overall shoreline and ecosystem of Puget Sound, focusing only on individual parcels. Now we know that they did consider the impact, and found it lacking.

The next steps on this lawsuit should be very interesting, judges don’t usually go against findings of fact such as this, and the Governor’s Orca Recovery Task force is currently about to publish it’s findings for saving habitat for the Orca and it’s food sources.

The full text of the findings are here:

http://users.neo.registeredsite.com/3/7/5/12218573/assets/2017_NWP48_Draft_Cumulative_Imapct_Analysis.pdf

West’s rivers are hot enough to cook salmon to death. Will this court ruling keep them cool? – Bellingham Herald

With global warming comes the heating of our rivers. That has devastating impacts on salmon, which need a river to remain under 56 degrees or young salmon will die. This might bring a change of heart to the issue of Snake River dam removal or breaching.

A federal judge in Seattle has directed the Environmental Protection Agency, in a ruling with implications for California and the Pacific Northwest, to find a way to keep river waters cool.

Read more here: https://www.bellinghamherald.com/news/state/washington/article220466120.html#storylink=cpy

 

Video on NOAA work to breed oysters resistant to ocean acidification – Crosscut & PBS

Local PBS show ReInventors highlights the work of NOAA Manchester’s research facility as they race to find a hybrid oyster that can survive ocean acidification. A very good quick look at the problem, with animation, and the possible solution. If we are going to have seafood survive, this will likely hold the possibility. As it is currently going, we don’t have long before the oceans will be too acidic for shellfish to survive.

The story

https://crosscut.com/2018/10/can-these-super-oysters-survive-our-screwed-oceans

The video

https://youtu.be/WP8J0-90VoM

After a decade of litigation, NOAA Fisheries and EPA will prepare a biological opinion on harm caused by Atlantic salmon net pens

From the Wild Fish Conservancy Press Release this morning. It’s unfortunate that those of us concerned about this issue needed to spend 10 years trying to force them to get to this simple issue. NOAA Fisheries have been one of the biggest boosters of net pen Atlantic salmon, never studying the wider effects of pens beyond a few hundred yards away from them. There has never been a wholistic approach to studying the effects of fish waste, food waste, chemicals added to the water, fish escapement, nor the issue that wild fish are attracted to the pens by food. What we learned from the net pen collapse last fall, was that the claims of the industry, repeated by spokesmen for Taylor Shellfish (who support net pens), that there was no way that Atlantic salmon would survive after escapement, were nothing but wishful thinking. Atlantic salmon from the pens were found far up the Skagit River basin and along the north outer shore of Vancouver Island. The misinformation campaigns of these industries that put profit ahead of environment are stunning in their audacity.


After a decade of litigation, NOAA Fisheries and EPA make the 11th hour decision to prepare a biological opinion on harm caused by Atlantic salmon net pens to ESA- listed salmon and steelhead.

The agencies have finally begun formal consultation under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to evaluate the potential harm caused by Atlantic salmon net pens in Puget Sound October 11th, 2018

Duvall, WA – On the eve of court proceedings over a legal battle Wild Fish Conservancy initiated in 2015, NOAA Fisheries and EPA have entered into formal consultation under the Endangered Species Act, consultation that will lead to the issuance of a biological opinion.

Under the Endangered Species Act, a biological opinion evaluates the extent of harm a proposed action will have on threatened or endangered species and whether such harm could jeopardize the continued existence of the species. Biological opinions also include conditions for monitoring and reducing harmful impacts to protected species.

Considering the abundant scientific evidence that open-water Atlantic salmon aquaculture may harm threatened and endangered salmonid species, Wild Fish Conservancy first argued that formal consultation and a biological opinion was necessary back in 2008, when we argued against the agencies’ decision that Atlantic salmon net pens were ‘not likely to adversely affect’ threatened and endangered species. We won that case in 2010, with the court ruling that NOAA and EPA had failed to use the best available science when making their decision and must reconsider whether a biological opinion is necessary.

Less than one year later, after a brief consultation, NOAA and EPA again decided that a biological opinion was unnecessary. This decision was shortly followed by a large-scale disease outbreak in Atlantic salmon net pens off the coast in Bainbridge Island in 2012, which killed over 1 million pounds of farmed Atlantic salmon during a time when juvenile wild salmon were out-migrating through Puget Sound.

Wild Fish Conservancy again challenged the agencies’ decision to avoid a biological opinion in 2015, a case that prompted NOAA and EPA last week to announce their intention to re-initiate consultation and finally prepare a biological opinion. That decision came only after the Court soundly rejected the agencies’ efforts to dismiss the case and ruled that the duty under the Endangered Species Act to re-initiate consultation does apply to EPA’s underlying action.

Since the case was filed in 2015, we have learned far more about the potential for harm the Atlantic salmon net pen industry presents to wild salmon and steelhead. In 2017, a collapsed net pen off the coast of Cypress Island released over 260,000 farmed Atlantic salmon into Puget Sound, nearly all of which are estimated to have been infected with Piscine Reovorius, a highly contagious and potentially lethal virus that may infect wild salmon. A study in 2018

demonstrated that PRV leads to debilitating disease in Chinook salmon, the primary food source of endangered Southern Resident killer whales.

This case comes at a time when key provisions of the Endangered Species Act are under threat in the United States Congress and underscores the monumental importance of the ESA, an act that has been critical in providing key protections to over one thousand threatened and endangered species across the country.

“While it shouldn’t have taken ten years of litigation for our agencies to realize the necessity of a biological opinion,” said Kurt Beardslee, Wild Fish Conservancy’s Executive Director, “I am glad to hear they have decided to change course, and I am hopeful that a biological opinion will lead to conditions and terms that will limit and monitor the harm caused by net pens to ESA-listed salmon and steelhead.

“Taking the utmost precaution is necessary to avoid the extinction of imperiled Pacific salmon and steelhead species, especially when considering the dire plight of Chinook salmon and the Southern Resident killer whales that are starving due to their struggling population.”

Contact

Kurt Beardslee, Executive Director, 425.788.1167/kurt@wildfishconservancy.org

About

Wild Fish Conservancy is a science & research conservation non-profit dedicated to the preservation, protection & restoration of wild fish ecosystems in the Pacific Northwest. We are headquartered in Duvall, WA. Learn more at wildfishconservancy.org

Wild Fish Conservancy is represented in this matter by the law firm of Kampmeier & Knutsen, PLLC, with offices in Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington.

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