EPA Releases plan to keep water in Columbia & Snake rivers cool enough for salmon (KNKX)

Good news. Wonder why they changed their minds?

Salmon need cold water to survive. Dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers are making the water too hot, in some places by as much as 5 degrees. Now, after a drawn-out lawsuit and direction from the state of Washington, the federal Environmental Protection Agency has released plan to change that.   Last week, the state Department of Ecology used its authority under the Clean Water Act to require the federal operators of eight dams on the lower Columbia and Snake rivers to keep the water at 68 degrees or lower. Right now, it’s routinely hitting 72 or 73 degrees in parts of the system, says Brett VandenHeuvel, executive director of Columbia Riverkeeper, which sued to get the plan. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KNKX)

EPA releases plan to keep water in Columbia, Snake rivers cool enough for salmon

Congress increases funding for Puget Sound Geographic Program to $33 million

More good news. Thanks to all who worked to push this forward, including Olympic Peninsula House of Representatives Derek Kilmer.This continues to show how expensive it is to recover the vast resources that we have mismanaged for more than a century. This money is all about ‘green’ jobs, as important as our military budget and other supposedly ‘sacrosanct’ parts of the budget that never seem to be questioned at all. We will need billions more as climate change kicks in, in ever larger ways. Luckily, our state and federal representatives seem to get it and are fighting for the money we need.

Attached are two announcements regarding funding for Puget Sound protection and recovery efforts, including:

  • Congress increases funding for Puget Sound Geographic Program to $33 million; and
  • FFY2019 Strategic Initiative Advisory Team (SIAT) Funding Recommendations and LIO-selected NTAs for National Estuary Program (NEP) Geographic Funds.

OLYMPIA— The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate passed a funding bill that will provide $33 million in FY2020 for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Puget Sound Geographic Program, which is an increase of $5 million over FY2019 funding levels. The President is signing the bill into law on Friday.

The Puget Sound Geographic Program funds implementation of the Puget Sound Action Agenda, the long- term plan for Puget Sound recovery developed by the Puget Sound Partnership.

“We know what we need to do to recover Puget Sound, our salmon, and our endangered orcas,” said Laura Blackmore, executive director of the Puget Sound Partnership. “This very welcome funding increase will help accelerate action on the ground to protect and restore this very special place.”

“We are excited to learn of the increase in federal funding for Puget Sound restoration,” said Bill Dewey, director of public affairs for Taylor Shellfish Farms and one of the business representatives on the Puget Sound Partnership’s Ecosystem Coordination Board. “The support from Congress has been instrumental in achieving water quality upgrades in shellfish growing areas all around the Sound.”

The Puget Sound Geographic Program provides funding to state, local, and tribal governments to implement projects to improve water quality, enhance fish passage, increase salmon habitat, and protect shorelines. Several Washington State agencies manage programs to address the three Strategic Initiatives for Puget Sound preservation and recovery: storm-water, habitat, and shellfish.

“It is incredibly rewarding to have the federal government support the amazing work our region is doing to restore Puget Sound,” said Heather Bartlett, water quality program manager at the Washington State Department of Ecology, which leads the Stormwater Strategic Initiative. “Our state has dedicated millions of dollars to restore this critical ecosystem and protect our iconic orca, salmon, and natural resource economy. With this additional federal funding, we will continue to make progress towards a healthy and resilient Puget Sound.”

“The Puget Sound Geographic Program has played an integral role filling a critical funding niche in our regional recovery effort,” said Kelly Susewind, director of the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife. “Through the program’s Habitat Strategic Initiative, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, in partnership with Department of Natural Resources, have slowly bridged gaps across institutional silos to achieve on-the-ground change. There is still much to be done, and this funding comes at a critical juncture for the ecosystem that supports our region’s imperiled salmon populations and Southern Resident Killer Whales. The program’s broad support really reinforces its significance to the health of our region, and this investment will continue to move the needle towards a healthier Puget Sound.”

“Many of Washington’s communities were built on our trademark salmon runs. Unfortunately, we’re seeing salmon runs decline, which is hurting our culture, our economy, and our iconic orcas,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, the director of the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. “I’m heartened to see increased federal investments in Puget Sound, and thankful that our state has such strong congressional leadership fighting on its behalf.”
Additional recovery initiatives receive funding

Blueback closure latest in Quinault climate change impacts – North Coast News

And as if to put a fine point on the previous article, commercial fishing is being closed on the Quinault River for sockeye.  If I’m not mistaken, while the Quinault is not dammed, it has been greatly affected by widespread logging of the hills all around it. A look at the satellite images of the river from Google Earth https://earth.app.goo.gl/uDneeP shows that between currently logged areas and second and third growth areas the habitat for salmon has been seriously compromised over the last 100 years. The buffers along the river, likely clear cut long ago, have been allowed to grow back and gain some modicum of protection for the river, but appear to be very small, compared the vast logging operations allowed all around it. Take a look and explore the overview of the area. Likely the increased temperatures from global warming, overharvest at sea, sea water warming and the increasing upflows of cold water known as the “Blob” have all added to the problems.  Have a different opinion on what’s causing all this? Feel free to add them to the comments below. I don’t claim to know it all, just cursory looks and 40 years seeing the endless logging of the west end proceed with virtually no stopping nor real effort to protect the watersheds which are the habitat of the salmon that spawn there.

The decision to close commercial fishing for Quinault River blueback (sockeye) salmon for conservation purposes this year is part of the ongoing effort by the Quinault Indian Nation to deal with the very tangible costs of climate change. After announcing the blueback closure on the river last week for 2019, Quinault President Fawn Sharp traveled to Washington, D.C. with a message for Congress about how the entire Quinault ecosystem from the glacier to the ocean is being harmed by climate conditions that have major impacts, economically as well as environmentally. Angelo Bruscas reports. (North Coast News)

Blueback closure latest in Quinault climate change impacts

BC Led international expedition to probe ailing Pacific Salmon stocks- Vancouver Sun

Finally we are seeing some joint scientific effort around wild salmon. Time is certainly running out to take dramatic steps to save what is left of the salmon runs. Glad to see this happening now, no matter how late in the day it seems.

An unprecedented international collaboration could revolutionize salmon science and fisheries management, return forecasting and even hatchery output. Nineteen scientists from Russia, Canada, the United States, Japan and South Korea are set to probe the secret lives of five Pacific salmon species with a four-week grid search and test fishery across the Gulf of Alaska. The expedition begins next week aboard the Russian research ship MV Professor Kaganovsky. “We know virtually nothing about what happens to salmon once they leave near-shore waters in the Salish Sea,” said expedition organizer Dick Beamish. The project was developed as a research element of the 2019 International Year of the Salmon celebration, organized by the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission and its partners. Randy Shore reports. (Vancouver Sun)

BC-led international expedition to probe ailing Pacific salmon stocks

State discusses killing seals and sea lions in Puget Sound

Perhaps the most controversial idea out of the Orca task force has been the notion of killing sea lions and seals to help salmon survive. Like many ideas, this one is simplistic and has the greatest appeal to people who don’t want to spend much time thinking about whether something works or just makes you feel like you are doing something. Fish and Wildlife are holding meetings to gather information on whether or not this really is an idea with merit. Biologists who study the food chain aren’t so sure. If you think you already know the answer, then you should read this article. “There is no guarantee of a response by the salmon in terms of returning adults.” And you know what an assumption is, it’s a word made up of and makes an “ass of u and me”. Let’s put the science of this in it’s rightful place, which is at the head of the train and not tow it along in our ill informed wake.

State wildlife commissioners heard testimony Friday about whether a seal and sea lion cull could help save salmon, and thereby restore food to the starving Southern Resident killer whales (SRKW)…. “It’s important to set the stage that this occurs in a very complex ecosystem and it is a very complex food web,” said WDFW Research Scientist Scott Pearson…. “If you want a 25 percent reduction in the total juvenile Chinook consumption by seals, we have to reduce this number of 19,000 seals down to 14,300. If you subtract this number from this number, that’s how many we have to remove 4,700 seals, and we have to annually remove 530 seals per year to keep it at that level,” Pearson said. But the problem is, salmon also face a slew of other challenges, including hydropower, hatcheries, habitat, disease, and contaminants. Scientists told commissioners they don’t know whether killing seals and sea lions will do anything at all…. “In my opinion, even if the seal consumption were somehow reduced or eliminated, there is no guarantee of a response by the salmon in terms of returning adults,” said WDFW Research Scientist Joe Anderson. Alison Morrow reports. (KING) See also: Puget Sound resident orcas limited by social behavior  Alison Morrow reports. (KING)

State discusses killing seals and sea lions in Puget Sound 

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

 

 

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

 

New Genetic Research Shows the Legacy of Fish Farm – Hakai Magazine

The fish farming industry has been saying for the last number of years that this couldn’t happen. Well, it apparently has. While this could not happen here because of the distinct species, it does add fuel to the fire that these farmed fish are just not a good idea. We have no idea what additional information the industry, along with certain departments in WDFW and NOAA who seem to be simply mouthpieces for the industry, are not investigating, or actually hiding from the public.

Newfoundland’s great fish jailbreak took place on September 18, 2013, when a damaged sea pen, roiled by currents and tides, discharged 20,000 farmed Atlantic salmon into the frigid freedom of Hermitage Bay. Cooke Aquaculture, which owned the failed pen, swiftly set about controlling the damage in the media, if not the ocean. Seals and other predators would scarf up the rogue salmon, the company assured the CBC. The fish, it added, “pose[d] no threat to the environment.” A new genetic analysis, however, refutes that dubious claim. Researchers with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) have shown that the fish fled Hermitage Bay, fanning out and infiltrating many of southern Newfoundland’s rivers. There, the escapees interbred with their wild cousins—potentially weakening the gene pools of imperiled populations. Ben Goldfarb reports. (Hakai Magazine)

New Genetic Research Shows the Legacy of Fish Farm

 

 

 

In WSU Stormwater Runoff Research, Coho Salmon Die Quickly,Chum Survive

More data that shows how complicated the salmon recovery effort is.

On April 20, 2018, the Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife News Bulletin reported that Washington State University (WSU) scientists discovered that different species of salmon have varying reactions to polluted stormwater runoff.

In a recent paper published in the journal Environmental Pollution, scientists found that coho salmon became mortally ill within just a few hours of exposure to polluted stormwater. But chum salmon showed no signs of ill- effects after prolonged exposure to the same water.

The study can be found at

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S026974911734527X?via%3Dihub

“It really surprised us,” said Jen McIntyre, an assistant professor in WSU’s School of the Environment. “Not that the coho were affected so quickly, but how resistant the chum were. We saw no impact at all in the chum’s post-exposure blood work.”

Stormwater is toxic to fish because it can include carcinogenic hydrocarbons, metals, and other organic compounds, most of which have yet to be identified.

McIntyre and her team collected stormwater runoff in large tanks from a highway in western Washington. Then they placed salmon in that water for four hours or until the fish showed signs of illness. Blood samples were then taken from all of the fish.

Only a few coho lasted four hours before having to be removed. In blood tests, the team found a significant increase in lactic acid concentrations and their blood was much thicker. Their blood pH was thrown off and the amount of salt in their plasma decreased significantly.

The chum test results showed none of those changes, all these fish lasting the full four hours without showing any signs of distress or sickness.

 

“These fish are very closely related,” said McIntyre, who works at WSU’s Puyallup Research and Extension Center. “They’re the same genus, but obviously something is significantly different physiologically. We just don’t know what that difference is yet.”

The study was done at the Suquamish Tribe Grovers Creek Salmon Hatchery, with fish donated by the Suquamish Tribe.

McIntyre worked on the project with fellow WSU scientists, along with colleagues from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

McIntyre and her team noticed a few clues for where to start their next round of investigations: studying what makes the chum nearly impervious to toxic runoff. One is that the coho appeared hypoxic, meaning they weren’t getting enough oxygen. But the water had plenty of oxygen, so they’ll look at blood circulation issues, how the fish metabolize oxygen in their muscles, and a few other areas.

“We don’t know if the thicker blood is a symptom of the problem, or if that’s the initiating event that then causes the oxygen deprivation,” McIntyre said. “There’s a lot of work still to come, but this really narrows down where we need to look.”

They’re also hoping that looking further into chum will turn up clues about how they resist the effects of toxic runoff.

In a later study, not included in this paper, McIntyre and her team conducted a prolonged exposure test on chum. Those fish swam in the stormwater runoff for four days and none of them got sick.

“We’re still trying to understand how they’re unaffected,” she said. “It’s actually really impressive.”

Another problem for the coho is that scientists don’t know what particular contaminants in the runoff are causing the problems.

“There’s a whole variety of heavy metals and hydrocarbons in that water,” McIntyre said. “And a whole bunch of chemicals we are working with scientists at the University of Washington in Tacoma to identify so that we can protect more delicate species like coho salmon from the effects of human pollution.”

McIntyre’s research is part of a grant from EPA.

For more information, Jen McIntyre can be reached at jen.mcintyre@wsu.edu.

Source:    http://www.cbbulletin.com/440562.aspx

 

 

Chef Renee Erickson pulls king salmon from menu after learning of starving orcas – KUOW

It seems there is something happening, right now. I called for looking into a moratorium on chinook harvest in the Salish Sea and just off the coast, and now (totally separate from my article) Canadian environmentalists and a restaurant in Seattle are also calling for a  halt for the demand for Salish Sea chinook. I’m reaching out to a Seattle fisheries expert who claims it won’t matter. We’ll see if he has time to help me and you understand why.  More to follow.

A Seattle restaurateur has stopped offering chinook salmon at her restaurants. Renee Erickson, chef and owner of a group of restaurants, including The Walrus and the Carpenter in Ballard, said she made the decision after learning about the plight of J50, the young, ailing orca whale.

http://kuow.org/stories/chef-renee-erickson-pulls-king-salmon-from-menu-after-learning-of-starving-orcas

and

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/seattle-chef-renee-erickson-takes-chinook-salmon-off-menus-to-help-ailing-puget-sound-orcas/

 

 

 

 

 

Port of Port Townsend aims to develop joint request to help orcas – PDN

Port Commissioners across the North Sound, led by our three Jefferson County Commissioners, have decided to weigh in to the Governor’s Southern Resident Killer Whale Recovery and Task Force. But their comments make one wonder where is the science that comes into  their personal opinions and assumptions on what’s needed.

I have tracked the decline of the Orcas in this blog for over 10 years. I have never heard scientists arguing on the points that Commissioner and whale watch boat captain Pete Hanke, was quoted on in The PDN. Let’s look at his comment.

“Turn the hatcheries on, go full bore, get a lot of fish in the water,”he aid. “Why not? It’s not going to hurt anything. The idea of keeping this native thing going is short-sighted. There’s a lot of science out there that questions whether the [southern resident orcas] will survive at any rate.” Hanke also said that he believes the Fraser River to be of the most polluted rivers in the region. The salmon coming out of the river are quite high in PCBs and contribute a lot of damage to the [southern resident orcas],” Hanke said. “So saying we want to get more fish out of the Fraser River doesn’t really solve the problem.

For a man who is in charge of helping determine the effective use of tax dollars in a local port, it’s a remarkably odd statement. The Port has itself wrapped around the axle on finding the funds to replace an aging breakwater, Pete has not shown any great ideas to the community about how this is going to get funded, and the Port’s leader, Sam Gibbony just resigned, with no explanation. So what about Pete’s comments?

Hatcheries already are doing their job for decades and haven’t been contributing near enough. We spent about $3M last year with virtually no science to show that it’s been of enormous help. There is also no science saying that by miraculously expanding hatchery output (even if we could do it quickly) that we will save the Orca.

According to the State of Washington Fish and Wildlife web site “During the 2018 legislative session, WDFW and other state agencies were provided about $3 million to support new and ongoing orca recovery efforts, such as reducing the presence of toxic contaminants in Puget Sound, and increasing hatchery production of Chinook salmon and other prey species.”https://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/orca/

Reducing toxins in the water takes decades to see significant results. Pete’s comment that the “salmon coming out of the Fraser are quite high in PCBs…” is the first I’ve heard of this issue. Rather than saying that the US should be doing something, he pushes the problem to Canada, where we have little or no influence. However, a 2018 study from the WA Dept of Fish & Wildlife pointed out that , contrary to Pete’s assumption, that 98% of PCBs are accumulated by the fish in salt water, not fresh water, such as the Duwamish or Frasier. “The amount of PCBs in adult salmon that is acquired in the freshwater environment, including hatcheries, varies from approximately 1% in undeveloped rivers to 4% in developed river where out-migrating juvenile fish acquire more PCBs. Hatchery feed is estimated to contribute a maximum of 1% of the PCBs measured in adult Chinook from Puget Sound that originated in hatcheries.” Read the whole report on PCBs in salmon here:

However, the science does not support the notion that the hatcheries  are adding significantly to the food the Orca eat, which scat samples from scientists show to be Chinook from the Frasier and Columbia rivers, which find their way to the Salish Sea. The most effective way to quickly raise the number of fish available for the Orca, would be to stop*all* fishing in the Strait and the Sound, as the Canadians did on June 1 in the Gulf Islands. Perhaps a moratorium on catching any Chinook for ten years would be a good start. I’ve heard this thought supported by any number of old time fishermen. Would the Tribes be on board? Not likely from the tribal members I’ve heard quoted in the news.

No word is mentioned as to whether the Port supports breaching the lower Snake River dams, which many scientists believe will add significant amounts of salmon into the system quickly. Want to know why some scientists are supporting doing this? Read the information at this web site to start. http://www.wildsalmon.org/facts-and-information/why-remove-the-4-lower-snake-river-dams.html

It states:

An extensive modeling effort completed in 2000 analyzed of the causes of mortality for Snake River salmon. The model demonstrated that the four lower Snake River dams were the most significant factor preventing recovery. The cumulative effect of eight dams on the lower Columbia and lower Snake Rivers is too much for salmon survival and if the four dams on the lower Snake were removed (cutting the total number of dams Snake River stocks face in half), these salmon can rebound to healthy levels.

More recent studies also show that populations of other Columbia Basin salmon that migrate through four or less dams and reservoirs, such as those from the Yakima and John Day rivers are performing significantly better than those from the Snake river. Those populations, like the Snake, also encounter mortality as a result of habitat destruction, harvest, hatcheries, predators and ocean conditions, but they are not imperiled. The difference lies in the number of mainstem dams they encounter. A key benefit for Snake River populations is the amount of high quality habitat they have that is not found in the other Columbia basins.

One of the main people doing scientific research into saving the Orca is Ken Balcomb. He recently addressed the Southern Resident Killer Whale (SRKW) Recovery and Task Force and posted to Facebook a message that included the following statement:

“…The human population and its appetites are growing too fast in the region to keep up with the clean-up. My analysis of the potential food resources for the SRKW led me to the Snake/Columbia salmon stocks as the only saving possibility within US and State of Washington jurisdiction…The basic biology and ecology of these amazing animals is fascinating, and their habits belie your  (Senator Kevin Ranker’s) hypothesis that a vessel regulatory approach will “save these incredible creatures.”

They will travel to wherever the food is most available, and by their absence they are illustrating that the food is not sufficiently available in San Juan County anymore. Nor in the Salish Sea. We all remember the heyday of fishing and the weeks-on-end of superpods, but those days are over throughout their foraging range.”

His web site states:

The larger environmental question reflected in the J35 story is that both the USA and Canada MUST redouble efforts to restore wild (emphasis mine) salmon (particularly Chinook) throughout Washington State and British Columbia for a food supply for the SRKW in this region.

On June 1st the Canadian government took drastic action.

“…the Government of Canada is imposing fishery management measures to reduce the total harvest for Chinook salmon by 25-35 percent. These measures include closures that will help increase the availability of this critical food source for Southern Resident killer whales.

The closures will take place in three key foraging (feeding) areas: Strait of Juan de Fuca, Gulf Islands and the mouth of the Fraser River.

These measures will be implemented for the 2018 salmon fishing season, with monitoring to assess the effectiveness of the closures.”

Ken believes we have only about five more years of breeding before the population is unable to support itself going forward. A ban for 5 to 10 years on all take of Chinook can immediately start to rectify the problem.

REGULATORY FAILURE

Another area of concern is our ongoing destruction of the shorelines where forage fish, another favorite food of salmon, spawn. Sound Action (I am Board President of Sound Action)  has stated,

In Washington State, our primary law governing nearshore habitat protection is called the Hydraulic Code, and any in-water development work requires a permit called an HPA which is under the jurisdiction of the State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). Unfortunately, there are significant gaps in the WDFW administration of the law with the department approving every permit, regardless of scale or impact. Similarly, issued permits are commonly missing important environmental regulations developed to protect fish life and habitat.

Multiple parties, including environmental groups, public agency employees and the Northwest Treaty Tribes have all raised concerns related to habitat loss as a result of WDFW administration of the HPA permit program. Even WDFW has documented this issue with internal program evaluation finding only a small portion of HPAs reviewed were appropriately protecting important ecosystem functions.

This means that nearshore habitat is lost every day with each new dock, bulkhead, marina, dredging operation or export facility permit issued without appropriate environmental regulations. Eelgrass beds that were once vast ribbons of green are shaded out until they’re gone. Forage fish spawning grounds are decimated. Important sedimentation processes that nourish beaches and give them life are choked off.

So just properly implementing our existing regulations would also have an impact.

Outside the jurisdiction of these permits is the ongoing conversion of shoreline habitat to commercial geoduck farms. Thousands of acres have been converted to mono-culture permanent farms for Chinese buyers since 2000.  Over 98% of the harvest is sent there. No one in government has seriously talked about when enough is enough. The question to be asked is, “When will say that we have reached carrying capacity for converting our wild shorelines to industrial geoduck farms? How much is enough?”  

I have not even addressed the issue of pollution runoff from our roads. To fix that  known problem (recent scientific studies at the UW have shown 100% death rates on salmon exposed to rain runoff from roads like 520), would take far more money and time than the Orca have left. At least we can start that though sooner than later.

Are we serious about making the enormously unpopular and painful changes we need to save the Orca? While I have no doubt that Commissioner Hanke, who makes his living running a whale watch business is serious about wanting to save the Orca, jumping to poorly considered assumptions is just condemning them to an even faster end.

 

Harbour seals are easy scapegoats in Chinook salmon decline – Vancouver Sun

Once again, the knee jerk reaction to ‘solving’ a problem is balanced by the scientists who actually study the problem. There has been a call for culling harbour seals, with ‘everyone’ knowing that they see a lot of them and they are eating a lot of salmon, apparently. Well, here’s the alternative point of view, rather than fake news.

It’s partly out of concern for the latter sparking recent calls for a cull of harbour seals, with those in favour citing a recent explosion in the seal population as principal cause of the decline of Chinook salmon. “Explosion?” Yikes. This is serious, and we had better respond. But, hold on a minute — there has been virtually no change in seal numbers in B.C. in more than 20 years. But for the whales — which face additional threats that include vessel strikes, pollution, underwater noise, and a shrinking gene pool — the problem is, as usual, us humans.

Dr. Peter Ross is the vice-president of research, and Dr. Lance Barrett-Lennard is director of the Cetacean Research Program at Ocean Wise.

Read the whole story at:

Opinion: Harbour seals are easy scapegoats in Chinook salmon decline

Support your local newspaper, no matter how lame it is. Blogs don’t replace reporters who are paid a living wage to take the time to get the news and boil it down to something we can understand. Fight those that constantly refer to the press as the ‘enemy of the people’ and ‘fake news’. Those voices are demagogues who are only working to promote their own point of view to their own profit.

 

Spring Chinook return to the Skokomish River to start a new salmon run – Watching our Waterways

Good early results from a new hatchery on the Skokomish river. The survival rates of hatchery raised fish have been questioned by groups like Long Live the Kings, in long running surveys comparing the success of wild fish in the Rogue River in Oregon vs. the Skagit River hatchery raised fish. But it’s still one of the only options left as we destroy our climate with fossil fuel use and the long term effects of a variety of human caused problems. We certainly wish them luck!

For the first time in decades, an early run of Chinook salmon has returned to the Skokomish River in southern Hood Canal.

Read the whole story here;

https://pugetsoundblogs.com/waterways/2018/07/27/spring-chinook-return-to-the-skokomish-river-to-start-a-new-salmon-run/

 

U.S. Supreme Court Justices Skeptical of WA State over culvert replacement – KNKX

Supreme Court justices skeptical of Washington state over salmon habitat
The Supreme Court seems unlikely to allow Washington state to get out from under a court order to restore salmon habitat by removing barriers that block fish migration. The justices heard arguments Wednesday in a long-running dispute that pits the state against Indian tribes and the federal government. At issue is whether Washington state must fix or replace hundreds of culverts. Those are large pipes that allow streams to pass beneath roads but can block migrating salmon if they become clogged or if they’re too steep to navigate. See also: U.S. Supreme Court justices raise questions about culvert damage   Chris Dunagan writes. (Watching Our Water Ways) And also: State And Feds Battle In Supreme Court Over How To Fix Culverts  Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KNKX)

New ways of fishing could better protect endangered salmon – Watching Our Waterways

Another good idea to explore for saving salmon.  Could be used in some trial scenarios. From many non-native fishermen I’ve talked to, the issue for them will likely be management of the native part of the take. There is a wide spread perception that the tribal take is not well managed and that they get to take more with less oversight, while the non-native fisherman is overburdened with regulations and enforcement. It’s been expressed to me that all many fishermen want is equal balance to the catch. While I’ve done a lot of looking into this issue and do not feel that the non-native perspective is accurate, the state and tribes might want to do a better job of PR to the non native community to help explain how it’s done.

Higher standards of “sustainability” for salmon — recently developed by the Wild Fish Conservancy — are designed to put salmon on people’s tables with virtually no impact on depleted salmon runs. The new standards, which could become part of a certification program, are built upon the concept that fishing should take place closer to streams with abundant runs of salmon. The standards call for fishing methods that can take a portion of the fish from the abundant runs while allowing fish from depleted runs to pass on by and spawn naturally. Chris Dunagan reports. (Watching Our Water Ways

 https://pugetsoundblogs.com/waterways/2018/03/22/new-ways-of-fishing-could-better-protect-endangered-salmon/

Sea lions feast on fragile fish in US Northwest survival war – AP

This is a major problem, and one that pits one creature against the other as we watch the stocks of salmon continue to decline. Sea lions aren’t the *only* issue facing salmon, (which include habitat destruction, over fishing and more) but given the low numbers of fish, they have become a major problem for their survival. The question it raises is do we kill off sea lions to save the salmon? If so, how many?

It’s a frustrating dance between California sea lions and wildlife managers that’s become all too familiar in recent months. The bizarre survival war has intensified recently as the sea lion population rebounds and fish populations decline in the Pacific Northwest Gillian Flaccus reports.(Associated Press)

 https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/sea-lions-gobbling-fragile-fish-in-us-northwest-survival-war/

What’s killing the salmon? Long Live the Kings investigates decline in iconic fish – KCPQ

Good overview of what Long Live The Kings and Microsoft are doing to help us understand root causes of the decline of the salmon.

Salmon are a big part of life in the Pacific Northwest. But over the past couple of decades, they’ve declined to critical levels and researchers don’t know why. Solving the mystery is what nonprofit Long Live the Kings is working on, and thanks to a grant from Microsoft, technology is helping the nonprofit develop a comprehensive model to find clues to solve it. Long Live the Kings is looking into Puget Sound and the waterways the flow into it, more broadly known as the Salish Sea. This Salish Sea Marine Survival Project is tracking migration of fish through our marine environment to understand what’s affecting salmons’ mortality.  Simply, why do salmon keep dying? Tatevik Aprikyan reports. (KCPQ)

http://q13fox.com/2018/01/30/whats-killing-the-salmon-long-live-the-kings-investigates-decline-in-iconic-fish/

Salmon fishing restrictions may get ‘severe’ – KING

It appears that we are going to need to take more draconian steps to save the remaining Chinook. While no one wants to see salmon fishing undergo more restrictions, it’s better than not having any of the fish left here. California already is in that situation.

A salmon fishing agreement between the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife and tribal co-managers is fueling continued angst by many recreational fishermen who fear it will force severe closures. The Comprehensive Management Plan for Puget Sound Chinook was recently released after a long secret court mediation process. If approved, it could place severe restrictions on salmon fishing around Puget Sound. Because the plan was reached in secret, it’s also reignited a rallying cry for transparency from WDFW and tribal co-managers…. Both the Attorney General’s office and representatives from WDFW explained that the mediation process required non-disclosure from all parties. If approved by NOAA, the plan would reduce the exploitation rate from 12 percent to 8 percent on wild Chinook for the next 10 years. That means only 8 percent of the wild Chinook expected to return to their natal streams can be impacted by fishing. Alison Morrow reports/ (KING)

http://www.king5.com/article/news/local/salmon-fishing-restrictions-may-get-severe/281-498970670

It’s been a rough few weeks for salmon, which is now being linked to North Korea’s nuclear program – Washington Post

It has been a bad start to the fall for farmed salmon, and for people who like to eat it. Here’s a quick recap of the news:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/food/wp/2017/10/05/its-been-a-rough-few-weeks-for-salmon-which-is-now-being-linked-to-north-koreas-nuclear-program/?hpid=hp_hp-more-top-stories_salmon-815am%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.9bfaaf8545d3

An excellent overview of the state of the salmon in Puget Sound

Chris Dunagan is one of the best reporters in the Pacific NW covering the Salish Sea. Here’s a great overview of the state of the salmon.

Are we making progress on salmon recovery?

In recent decades, hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent to restore habitat for Puget Sound salmon. In this article, we look at how scientists are gauging their progress. Are environmental conditions improving or getting worse? The answer may depend on where you look and who you ask. Chris Dunagan reports. (Salish Sea Currents)

https://www.eopugetsound.org/magazine/is/salmon-recovery

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