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

Dungeness crab population declining in south Sound – Vashon Beachcomber

The anecdotal information has been coming in all year on this, now it appears that it’s official.

The winter crabbing season is set to close at the end of the month, but several marine areas did not even open for crabbing in the fall — after countless crabbers came up empty-handed repeatedly last summer. In fact, of the state’s 13 marine areas, five of them — all in the south sound — remained closed to crabbing when the winter season opened on Oct. 7. Don Velasquez, a fish and wildlife biologist at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), stressed this is not the norm…. Numerous islanders were upset when few Dungeness crabs found their way into pots last summer, and now that the state has finished compiling statistics, it is clear just how poor the season was — and how few crabs appear to be living in nearby waters. Sue Riemer reports. (Vashon Beachcomber)

http://www.vashonbeachcomber.com/news/dungeness-crab-population-declining-in-south-sound/

Studies focus on acidic ocean impact on Dungeness crabs – Vancouver Sun

More research to understand how our addiction to fossil fuels is affecting our food sources.

Millions of pounds of Dungeness crab are pulled from Pacific Northwest waters each year in a more than century-old ritual for commercial and recreational fishermen. But as ocean waters absorb more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, U.S. scientists are worried that the ocean’s changing chemistry may threaten the sweet-flavoured crustaceans. Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are exposing tiny crab larvae to acidic seawater in laboratory experiments to understand how ocean acidification might affect one of the West Coast’s most lucrative fisheries. Research published this year found that Dungeness crab eggs and larvae collected from Puget Sound and exposed to higher levels of carbon dioxide — which increases ocean acidity — grew more slowly and larvae were more likely to die than those in less corrosive seawater. Now researchers at NOAA’s Fisheries’ Northwest Fisheries Science Center are taking the experiments a step further to study how the crabs respond to multiple stressors during various growth stages. They also plan to analyze the sublethal effects: Even if the crabs don’t die are they affected in physiological or other ways by ocean acidification? (Associated Press)

Studies focus on acidic ocean impact on Dungeness crabs

Studies focus on acidic ocean impact on Dungeness crabs -Associated Press

Dungeness Crab is important to our economy and diet, along with the importance to the Tribes as subsistent living guaranteed by the Treaty of 1858. The ramifications of global warming and ocean acidification on the crab,  has not been fully studied. Not it has begun. The findings continue to build evidence that if we don’t get off our reliance on fossil fuels soon, we will likely see destruction of this valuable natural resource.

Millions of pounds of Dungeness crab are pulled from Pacific Northwest waters each year in a more than century-old ritual for commercial and recreational fishermen. But as ocean waters absorb more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, U.S. scientists are worried that the ocean’s changing chemistry may threaten the sweet-flavoured crustaceans. Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are exposing tiny crab larvae to acidic seawater in laboratory experiments to understand how ocean acidification might affect one of the West Coast’s most lucrative fisheries. Research published this year found that Dungeness crab eggs and larvae collected from Puget Sound and exposed to higher levels of carbon dioxide — which increases ocean acidity — grew more slowly and larvae were more likely to die than those in less corrosive seawater. Now researchers at NOAA’s Fisheries’ Northwest Fisheries Science Center are taking the experiments a step further to study how the crabs respond to multiple stressors during various growth stages. They also plan to analyze the sublethal effects: Even if the crabs don’t die, are they affected in physiological or other ways by ocean acidification? (Associated Press)

Studies focus on acidic ocean impact on Dungeness crabs

Sea Grant Monitors In High Gear After Invasive Green Crab Found On San Juan Island -KNKX

The latest threat to our Salish Sea ecosystem is being investigated by volunteer teams and Sea Grant. Here’s an update on what they are finding.

This week, scientists are scouring shoreline habitat near Westcott Bay on San Juan Island, hunting for green crabs. The Washington Sea Grant Crab Team, with help from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, will set dozens of traps in an effort to learn more about the population of the invasive species. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KNKX)

http://knkx.org/post/sea-grant-monitors-high-gear-after-invasive-green-crab-found-san-juan-island

Invasive Crab Found For First Time In Washington’s Inland Saltwaters – NW Sportsman Magazine

On top of everything else, now this.

A San Juan Islands beach survey turned up an “unexpected and unwelcome” discovery earlier this week: a raving mad crab.

It’s the first European green crab found in Puget Sound.

Invasive Crab Found For First Time In Washington’s Inland Saltwaters

Photo of the Day -Juvenile Puget Sound King Crab at Point Hudson

Another gem from Bruce Kerwin of Bainbridge Island. DSC_4425 Juvenile Puget Sound King CrabJuvenile Puget Sound King Crab at Point Hudson (eventually the white cap will disappear and he will grow to more than 4 times its current size) – Port Townsend, WA;

Field report on Japanese Eelgrass being used by herring

The backstory here is that the shellfish industry is pushing for the ability to spray herbicides on Z. Japonica. I felt it would be worth having you read direct reports on what scientists on the ground are finding, rather than take the words of what could be viewed as biased industry spokesmen, or perhaps you don’t trust environmentalists. I think that a moratorium on this issue until serious research can be done, or reviewed in depth, is worth a consideration.
_____________________________________________________

Kathy Hamel, WDOE:

SUBJECT: Zostera japonica as documented herring spawning habitat in Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay

I wish to comment from my personal observations of the usage of “japanese eelgrass” as herring spawning substrate in Washington’s coastal estuaries. I am a recently retired WDFW forage fish biologist, having spent 39 years involved in investigations of herring, surf smelt, and Pacific sand lance biology, spawning ecology and critical spawning habitat mapping throughout the state of Washington. By way of record of my professional knowledge and experience, see: Penttila, D.E., 2007. The marine forage fishes of Puget Sound. PSNERP Tech Report 2007-03, at http://www.pugetsoundnearshore.org .

I have personally observed the usage of middle intertidal beds of Zostera japonica as egg-deposition substrate by Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay stocks of Pacific herring during their February-March spawning seasons. These records of my observations would be housed within the files and photo notebooks of the WDFW Marine Resources Division at their LaConner, WA office, if more specific details were needed. These records are considered public information, and I presume I would still have personal access to them, if requested. The degee to which extensive beds of Zostera japonica also serve as herring spawning habitat in the Salish Sea region, where herring spawning on adjacent beds of Z. marina overlaps with extensive aquaculture operations, such as Drayton Harbor (Whatcom Co.) and Samish Bay (Skagit Co.), should also be investigated before any industrial-scale applications of herbicides are allowed.

In southern Grays Harbor, I photographed as well as sampled herring eggs on Zostera japonica beds in the vicinity of the Bay City bridge over the Elk River estuary. In Willapa Bay, I recall herring eggs being found on Zostera japonica beds just inshore of the native Z. marina beds in the area north of Oysterville. In both areas, the herring spawning sites in question were within short distances of active shellfish aquaculture plots, and thus would be damaged or destroyed by the application of pest-control herbicides.

In my opinion, the herring spawning habitats of Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay already suffer enough damage from uncontrolled (ie. “voluntary codes of practice”) aquaculture activities annually, through the dredging of ground-cultured oysters during the spawning season, stomping and shading. They should not be further impacted by yet another ill-considered act for the benefit of the commercial aquaculture industry’s bottom line.

In these coastal estuaries, any attempted chemical control of Z. japonica beds immediately inshore and possibly intermingled with the inshore portions of Z.. marina beds would cause damage to the native Z. marina beds and their herring spawning habitat function. It is a poorly kept secret that the aquaculture industry has for generations considered eelgrass to be a “pest” and has routinely pursued measures to eradicate the species from their culture plots, despite the species’ clear ecological value.* Such damage to herring spawning habitats should be considered a violation of the WA State GMA, WA State SMA, the WAC Hydraulic Code Rules and federal Essential Fish Habitat rules for the conservation of ESA-listed salmonids in this region, all of which advocate no-net-loss protections for documented herring spawning grounds.

* Simenstad, C.A., and K.I. Fresh, 1995. Influence of intertidal aquaculture on benthic communities in Pacific Northwest estuaries: scales of disturbance. Estuaries, Vol 18, No. 1A, p. 43-70.

Thank you for this opportunity for input.

Dan Penttila
Salish Sea Biological (consulting on forage fish matters)
5108 Kingsway
Anacortes, WA 98221
tel: (360) 293-8110
e-mail: depenttila@fidalgo.net

Putting the Pinch on illegal crabbers – The Seattle Times

Putting the pinch on illegal crabbers
The Seattle Times
As more people take up crabbing in Puget Sound, those paid to police the harvest are noting an uptick in illegal activity. From recreational fishermen who don’t get licenses or ignore quotas and size limits to large-scale poaching by commercial or tribal fishermen, there is no shortage of crustacean scofflaws.

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/

State to take new look at how much fish is safe to eat.

ed- It is somewhat upsetting to read that the tribes found out (through a grant paid for by the taxpayers of the state), that levels of toxins were far higher than thought, or safe, and yet we have had no warning and apparently you could assume they were selling this to restaurants and grocery stores. So the question is, “is it safe to eat crab and flounder caught in Puget Sound?”  The answer appears, at least from reading this article, to be ‘no’.  The good news here is that this approach turns pollution control on it’s head. Instead of allowing pollution and reducing consumption, we now are saying that we are going to allow consumption and reduce pollution to achieve healthy goals.

The problem I see is that how do I know that I’m getting safe fish, if the levels have changed but the pollution is still out there in the fish? That seems oddly backwards. Like pretending that the current safe levels aren’t a factor. I think I need better reporting to assure me that I’m just reading this wrong.

 

7/25 Seattle Times
State takes new look at how much fish is safe to eat
By Cassandra Brooks
Seattle Times staff reporter
From the shores of Lake Washington to the Duwamish River and other state waters, signs alert locals about toxic fish:
Warning: Fish from these waters contain high levels of mercury.

Caution: Trout contain high levels of DDT.

Advisory: Shellfish contain high PCBs, do not eat!

Under state law, Washington’s lakes, streams, estuaries and nearshore coastal waters only need to be clean enough for residents to safely consume one serving of fish a month.
Yet, for many state residents, local fish and shellfish are a much bigger part of their diet than that, whether it’s bass caught from the dock of a lake, a dozen oysters served up at a waterfront restaurant or salmon grilled on a backyard barbecue.
And for many tribes across Washington, fish are not just central to their diet but a core part of their cultural and spiritual lives as well.
More at
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2012448836_tribalfish26m.html

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.

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