Sunflower sea stars remain hard to find in B.C. waters four years after massive die-off – Vancouver Sun

Sobering news from north of the border.

Reports that sea stars may be recovering after a massive die-off four years ago may be premature, experts say. “We want simple solutions. People see a few of them, and they assume they’re back,” said Port McNeill diver and scientist Jackie Hildering. “But they’re not.” While the number of ochre stars is reportedly on the rise, the iconic sunflower star remains elusive on the B.C. coast. “There is very little evidence of recovery (among sunflower stars),” confirmed Peter Raimondi, marine ecologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Tracking the wasting disease that killed millions of sea stars from Alaska to Baja California in 2013 and 2014 is difficult because so little work has been done on the species. It is unclear how many sea stars melted away during the outbreak — and how many are left. Glenda Luymes reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe aims to re-establish oyster farm in Dungeness refuge – PDN

The Jamestown S’Klallam look to expand operations beyond the oyster beds currently being farmed in Sequim Bay. While this project is being opposed by two of the environmental organizations on the Peninsula, it is not being opposed by the Clallam Marine Resources Committee, which has representation of the Tribes on it, and they are actually working collaboratively with the Jamestown staff to find the existing eel grass beds and work around them. The tribe has been doing a lot of aquaculture  in Sequim Bay over the last 10 years, with an oyster farm and other activity. This has been positive, in that beyond just the job opportunities for the Tribe, it has made the Tribe extremely sensitive to cleaning up any pollution that might enter the Bay near Blyn. Their ongoing efforts to restore  chum salmon to JimmyComeLately Creek have been very successful.  The Tribe also regularly fishes and crabs at Cline Spit, the boat launch site for smaller boats in that bay on the east side of the Spit. It is unclear of whether an EIS, Hydraulic Permit Application (HPA) or other permits beyond standard State permits is needed. More on that in a later post.

SEQUIM — The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe seeks to re-establish an oyster farm in Dungeness Bay and will have its proposal heard by the Clallam County Hearing Examiner on Thursday.

The tribe’s oyster farm would be on 50 acres of leased Department of Natural Resources tideland within the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, said Ron Allen, tribal chairman. The farm would be in the bay about 4,000 feet north of Cline Spit.

http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/news/jamestown-sklallam-tribe-aims-to-re-establish-oyster-farm-in-dungeness-refuge/

Oyster-caused illnesses on Vancouver Island linked to same supplier- CBC

In case you happened to be in Tofino in November.

Island Health says norovirus is likely to blame after more than 100 people who ate raw oysters in Tofino earlier this month fell ill. Roughly 120 people, many of whom had attended the Clayoquot Oyster Festival, suffered gastro-intestinal symptoms last week. But Island Health says people got sick at more than one location, and that people reported being ill over the course of several days. They say it appears everyone who became ill consumed raw oysters from the same supplier, who is not being named. (CBC)

http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/canada/british-columbia/oyster-vancouver-island-sick-norovirus-1.3875806

Tidelands near Sequim Bay’s John Wayne Marina to be studied, seeded with native Olympia oysters – PDN

The work to restore native species continues.

Tidelands near John Wayne Marina will be studied and parts of them seeded to create a new Olympia oyster bed in Sequim Bay. In a 2-1 vote, the commissioners agreed to allow the Clallam County Marine Resources Committee to study a portion of Sequim Bay tidelands, adjacent to the south side of the jetty, and seed it with oysters beginning in 2017. Commissioners Colleen McAleer and Steve Burke voted in favor of the oyster beds, while Commissioner Connie Beauvais voted against the use of the property. Arwyn Rice reports. (Peninsula Daily News)
http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20160414/NEWS/304149984/tidelands-near-sequim-bays-john-wayne-marina-to-be-studied-seeded

Washington, NOAA launch next step of shellfish initiative – AP

Governor Inslee moves forward on more aquaculture support without spending any more money.  Locally, we support the efforts to restore Olympia Oysters, and the Jefferson County Marine Resources Committee is doing so in Discovery Bay. The MRC  also support a variety of shellfish growers, and are happy that the Tribes are able to make good money selling Geoducks to China.

However, the article is accurate in that environmentalists and shoreline homeowners are very concerned over the State’s willingness to turn entire bays in the South Sound into shellfish farms, despite the fact that these beds are on beaches right in front of homes and will never really be allowed to go back to a natural state, if that’s even possible. It is important to understand that aquaculture rights were established as a priority of shoreline land use  when the State was founded. The shellfish industry has legal right to harvest on  almost all shores below extreme low tide, based on a reading of state statute RCW 79.96.010 (of course the State leases the land first), and seems willing to take as much as it can to do so, regardless of the opinions of the homeowners who’s “backyard” they are farming, or concerns of environmentalists. (this is a clarification of an earlier version of this article)

The harvesting often is late at night in the winter, and noisy enough to disrupt homeowners. Large scale netting of the beach to protect the shellfish from predators leads to birds being caught in nets, and the inability of shoreline homeowners to use their beaches. Real estate agents rarely seem to warn prospective buyers of the issue.  Lawsuits to reign in the growers expansion seem to be rarely successful. The industry is heavily regulated, and the growers need to get a variety of permits to set up a farm. Some recent Shoreline Master Plans have attempted to put some limits on shellfish growers, with little success.

Gov. Jay Inslee on Friday renewed the state’s commitment to protecting Washington’s lucrative shellfish resources. Inslee joined federal, tribal and other leaders at the National Fish & Oyster Co. in Olympia to launch the second phase of the Washington Shellfish Initiative, which former Gov. Chris Gregoire initiated in 2011. The state, working with many partners including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will take new steps to improve water quality, restore native shellfish such as Olympia oysters, improve the permitting process for shellfish-growers and promote ways to address how ocean acidification is affecting shellfish. Phuong Le reports. (Associated Press)

http://www.kirotv.com/ap/ap/washington/washington-noaa-launch-next-step-of-shellfish-init/np6H6/

DNR buys lands around Taylor Shellfish hatchery for long-term conservation – PT Leader

I missed this story. More good news from DNR, Taylor Shellfish and the Northwest Watershed Institute. Moving forward on protecting shorelines that are key to aquaculture  from development. We need cooperative agreements where the habitat calls for it.

On Sept. 17, Taylor Shellfish Farms sold four undeveloped shoreline parcels, totaling 15 acres, to the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for preservation as part of the Dabob Bay Natural Area, according to a press release.

Shellfish Tell Puget Sound’s Polluted Tale – Earthfix

It’s always been a question mark in my mind, about how much of the bad stuff in the Sound are we eating with our delicious meals of shellfish. Now we know. And it’s a good word of caution that if you are regularly eating shellfish, that buying them from growers who are away from urban environments, or harvesting them yourself in remote places, is the best rule of thumb. And it also gives us a very easy way  to measure the recovery efforts at work. The bad news is that PCBs, long banned, continue to be found in the water, as do flame retardants. Both are cancer causing. It points out that storm water runoff and our crazy notion that we can pour our sewage into our Sound, have consequences for us.

Scientists used shellfish to conduct the broadest study to date of pollution levels along the shore of Puget Sound. And in some places, it’s pretty contaminated. This past winter the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife put mussels at more than 100 sites up and down Puget Sound. After a few months, volunteers and WDFW employees gathered the shellfish and analyzed them for metals, fossil fuel pollution, flame-retardants and other chemicals. The WDFW just released the results. [http://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/01643/] Ashley Ahearn reports. (EarthFix)

http://earthfix.kcts9.org/water/article/shellfish-tell-puget-sounds-polluted-tale/

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