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/

 

Whale strandings off Washington-Oregon coast highest in nearly 2 decades – Seattle Times

Not good news for our ocean friends. This on top of the massive strandings of a few years ago that littered the coast from California to Alaska with whale carcasses.

Sixteen gray and humpback whales have been reported stranded off Washington and Oregon since April 3, the largest number in nearly two decades.

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/crime/whale-strandings-off-washington-coast-highest-in-nearly-2-decades/

Dismal Copper River salmon run prompts ‘unprecedented’ shutdown of dip-netting at Chitina – Anchorage Daily News

Not good news coming in from the Copper River. Salmon numbers are so bad they’ve close the fishery.

The state is taking the historic action of shutting down Copper River dipnetting at the popular, physically demanding sites around Chitina.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game issued an emergency order Wednesday closing the personal-use fishery until further notice as of Monday.

 

https://www.adn.com/outdoors-adventure/fishing/2018/06/13/dismal-copper-river-salmon-run-prompts-unprecedented-shutdown-of-dipnetting-at-chitina/

 

Swinomish Tribe and others sue Army Corp over lack of eelgrass protections

Somehow this lawsuit slipped my review. It came out in late April and adds to the growing group of lawsuits seeking to protect yet another of Puget Sound’s key habitat, eelgrass.  As the suit states: “Native eelgrass beds serve as nurseries, cover,and feeding grounds for threatened Puget Sound Chinook salmon, Dungeness crabs, and other aquatic species.”

You may have seen the “No anchor zones” in Port Townsend Bay that are there to help boaters avoid damaging these fragile underwater forests.

The Swinomish Tribe, along with Earth Justice and others, challenges the Army Corp of Engineers and it’s  Nationwide Permit 48,( NWP 48) which came out last year. NWP48 authorizes large-scale commercial shellfish aquaculture without mandatory avoidance or minimization measures to protect eelgrass.

From the lawsuit filing: The Corps’ first nationwide permit covering shellfish aquaculture issued in 2007 applied only to active commercial shellfish operations which had a state or local permit. As reissued in 2017, NWP 48 reaches beyond active commercial shellfish operations to cover any area that was used for commercial shellfish aquaculture at any time within the last 100 years. This definition extends into “continuing fallow” areas, which are areas that previously had shellfish operations at some time, but not since 2007 when the first NWP 48 was issued. NWP 48 contains measures requiring avoidance of eelgrass beds in “new” operations that have never been cultivated, but makes those mandatory avoidance measures inapplicable to eelgrass beds in continuing fallow areas. In North Puget Sound, thousands of acres of so-called continuing fallow areas have mature eelgrass beds, yet NWP 48’s mandatory avoidance measures are not applicable to these fallow areas.

Throughout the development of NWP 48, the Tribe urged the Corps to adopt
avoidance and minimization measures to protect eelgrass. The Corps considered various avoidance and minimization measures, such as extending the same protection afforded for new shellfish operations to eelgrass in continuing fallow areas or limiting the shellfish aquaculture methods that may be used on eelgrass beds to those that minimize damage to the eelgrass. In the end, however, the Corps adopted NWP 48 without any avoidance and minimization measures to protect eelgrass. It left the development of such protective measures to the discretion of the
Corps’ district engineer when reviewing specific projects to verify whether they comply with NWP 48.

This case challenges the application and implementation of NWP 48 in North
Puget Sound in areas with eelgrass beds for violating three laws and their implementing regulations.

Follow this link to the Corps complaint. It’s 31 pages long.

Swinomish lawsuit against Corps 3522 1 Complaint

Can Olympia oysters make a comeback in Quilcene Bay? – PT Leader

Good work being done by the Jefferson Marine Resources Committee, now expanding their efforts to restore the Olympia Oyster from Dungeness Bay to Quilcene.

Many hands sought to make relatively light work out of an ambitious undertaking May 16 in Quilcene, as roughly a dozen volunteers assembled at the end of Linger Longer Road to take stock of the area’s remaining Olympia oyster population. Before over-harvesting and pulp mill pollution forced Pacific Northwest oyster farmers to turn to the Pacific oysters of Japan as a substitute, Olympia oysters were the dominant native species, and various environmental and oyster farming-affiliated groups are keen to see the molluscs make a comeback. Brian Allen, a marine ecologist with the Puget Sound Restoration Fund (PSRF), instructed the volunteers who arrived at the Quilcene Boat Ramp to record not only where they found any Olympia oysters as the tide went out, but also where the oysters tend to aggregate. Kirk Boxleitner reports. (Port Townsend Leader)

Can Olympia oysters make a comeback in Quilcene Bay?

‘It’s the wild west out here’: Gulf Islanders raise alarm over whale-watching fleet sizes – CBC

The situation in the Gulf Islands (and the American side also) is out of control. If Governor Inslee is serious about saving the resident orca pod, then he needs to get this under control, with the help of the B.C. government. He’ll have to override the pressure from the economic engine of the whale watching industry to do anything of value. While it is appreciated that the whale watch industry helps average people come to learn about the whales, it appears we are loving them to death. The population is approaching some kind of unsustainable number and without radical action will likely go extinct. The time for half measures is gone, as their population continues to fall. Some kind of moratorium is likely needed while we re-establish the whales population, if that’s even possible. But expecting Inslee to override them, is likely a tall order.

Some residents of the southern Gulf Islands are worried too many whale watching boats are chasing too few killer whales—stressing the already at-risk species….  Residents report they’ve seen fleets of up to 25 vessels chasing orca pods during the busy summer months when whale watching is at its peak. They say the problem is compounded because there are no regulations to govern the number of whale-watching boats permitted to track killer whales.Eric Rankin reports. (CBC) See also: Whale watchers update guidelines; Canada to restrict salmon fishing  Chris Dunagan reports. (Watching Our Water Ways)

It’s the wild west out here’: Gulf Islanders raise alarm over whale-watching fleet sizes

Where did the Puget Sound green crabs come from? We’re still not sure.- Puget Sound Institute

It’s amazing how far afield the Columbia River affects environments. I’ve also heard it said by folks researching it that our Orca prefer (historically that is) the Columbia River (and Fraser River) Chinook and Chum. Maybe because of swimming longer distances make them more muscular? But again, research is the key to assumptions.

Genetic testing shows that invasive European green crabs in Puget Sound likely did not come from the Sooke Basin in British Columbia as previously thought. New findings on the crab’s origins were presented at the 2018 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference in Seattle. Scientists are looking at a variety of potential sources.

https://www.eopugetsound.org/articles/where-did-puget-sound-green-crabs-come-we%E2%80%99re-still-not-sure

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