‘The smell will knock you off your feet’: mass mussel die-offs baffle scientists | Environment | The Guardian

The Chehalis River is one of the locations mentioned in this article.

Mussels, the backbone of the river ecosystem because they control silt levels and filter water, are facing a mysterious affliction
— Read on www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/14/the-smell-will-knock-you-off-your-feet-mass-mussel-die-offs-baffle-scientists

Federal judge rules Army Corps aquaculture permit is unlawful in Washington State.

In a surprise ruling with wide ranging consequences, a federal judge has ruled that the Army Corp of Engineers issuance of Nationwide Permits in the lower 48 (NWP48) authorizing commercial shellfish aquaculture is illegal. The suit, brought by The Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat, a group that has been fighting large-scale shellfish aquaculture for years, and joined by the Swinomish Tribe, was focused against the Army Corp and Taylor Shellfish, along with the industry group, The Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association.

The plaintiffs argued that the Corps failed to comply with the Clean Water Act (“CWA”), the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”), and the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) when it reissued NWP 48 in 2017. They requested that the decision to adopt NWP 48 in Washington be overturned and that the Corps be required to comply with the environmental statutes before issuing any new permits  for commercial shellfish aquaculture in this State.

The court found in it’s blistering conclusions, “…that the Corps has failed to adequately consider the impacts of commercial shellfish aquaculture activities authorized by NWP 48, that its conclusory findings of minimal individual and cumulative impacts are not supported by substantial evidence in the record, and that its EA does not satisfy the requirements of NEPA and the governing regulations…the Court holds unlawful and sets aside NWP 48 insofar as it authorizes activities in Washington.” (emphasis mine)

Going beyond just the issue of the environmental consequences the judge stated that “The federal defendants state that additional …remedy should be permitted once the seriousness of the agency’s error is determined. The intervenors (the Corps and Taylor Shellfish) assert that (throwing out the permits and the Corps previous rulings) would cause disruption in the Washington shellfish farms and industry, including significant impacts to employees and the communities in which they live.Neither tact is compelling. The substantive defects in the agency’s analysis when adopting the 2017 NWP are significant.” (emphasis mine)

The case centers around whether or not the large scale conversion of natural shorelines to commercial aquaculture, happening now all around lower Puget Sound and in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, is more than “minimal” damage to the environment. Siting case law in relevant lawsuits in the Yellowstone Park area, the environmental group managed to persuade the judge that the Army was allowing something much more than minimal damage.

As stated by the plaintiffs, “Federal agencies are required to do an environmental assessment (“EA”) of their proposed action, providing a brief discussion of the
anticipated environmental impacts and enough evidence and analysis to justify a no-significant impact determination.  If the agency, after conducting an EA, is unable to
state that the proposed action “will not have a significant effect on the human environment,” a more detailed and comprehensive environmental impact statement (“EIS”) must be prepared. They also argued that the case law stated that if the Corps’ ruling was found to be “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion” and lacking in a scientific basis, that it must be thrown out.

The court found that , “… there is insufficient evidence in the record to
support the agency’s conclusion that the re-issuance of NWP 48 in 2017 would have minimal individual and cumulative adverse impacts on the aquatic environment for purposes of the CWA and that the Corps’ environmental assessment does not satisfy NEPA’s requirements.”

They judge then went on to point out that “the Corps acknowledges that commercial shellfish aquaculture activities can have adverse environmental impacts…marine debris is a serious impact on the marine environment…and that commercial shellfish aquaculture activities can result in conversion of substrates (e.g. mudflats to gravel bars), impacts to submerged aquatic vegetation, alteration in aquatic communities from native to non-native shellfish species, and water quality impacts from harvest activities.”

Given those findings, the judge went on to say, “Ignoring or diluting site specific,
individual impacts by focusing solely on a cumulative, landscape-scale analysis is not
consistent with the governing regulations.”

The scientific documents that the Corps presented as justification for it’s actions came under blistering criticism from the judge. “According to the Corps’ own summary of the paper, the authors evaluated only the effects of oyster aquaculture activities on submerged aquatic vegetation. The paper itself shows that Dumbauld and McCoy (a supposed scientific study that the Corps and Taylor were using) were studying the effects of intertidal oyster aquaculture on the seagrass Zostera marina. There is no discussion of the impacts on other types of aquatic vegetation, on the benthic community, on fish, on birds, on water quality/chemistry/structures, or on substrate characteristics. There is no discussion of the subtidal zone. There is no discussion regarding the impacts of plastic use in shellfish aquaculture and only a passing reference to a possible side effect of pesticide use. The Corps itself does not remedy these deficiencies: although it identifies various resources that will be adversely impacted by issuance of the national permit (along with resources that may benefit from shellfish production), it makes virtually no effort to characterize the nature or degree of those impacts. The Decision Document’s “Impact Analysis” consists of little more than an assurance that district engineers will consider the direct and indirect effects caused by the permitted activity on a regional or case-by-case basis.”

The judge went on to say, “In this case, the Corps acknowledged that reissuance of NWP 48 would have foreseeable environmental impacts on the biotic and abiotic components of coastal waters, the intertidal and subtidal habitats of fish, eelgass, and birds, the marine substrate, the balance between native and non-native species, pollution, and water quality, chemistry, and structure, but failed to describe, much less quantify, these.  The Corps cites the two Dumbauld papers for general statements regarding the positive or negative effects of shellfish aquaculture on certain aquatic resources or characteristics (focusing on seagrass), but it makes no attempt to quantify the effects or to support its conclusion that the effects are no more than minimal.”(emphasis mine).

As reported on some months ago in this blog, a draft cumulative impact statement, which only surfaced due to a discovery in this case,  “…generated in February 2017 dedicated twenty-five pages to discussing the wide range of work and activities covered by NWP 48 and noting the species dependent variability in cultivation techniques, gear, and timing. These variations gave rise to a wide array of effects on the aquatic habitat, none of which is acknowledged or evaluated in the national Decision Document.” (emphasis is mine).

The judge goes on, in plain language, “A reasonable mind reviewing the record as a whole would not accept Dumbauld and McCoy’s limited findings regarding the
landscape-level impact of oyster cultivation on a species of seagrass in the intertidal zone as support for the conclusion that entire ecosystems are resilient to the disturbances caused by shellfish aquaculture or that the impacts of those operations were either individually or cumulatively minimal.” The judge sites decisions back in coal country where the cumulative impacts of mountain top removal are similar and long lasting. “The governing regulations expressly impose upon the Corps the obligation to consider the ongoing effects of past actions when conducting a cumulative impacts analysis.”

The “NEPA and the CWA were enacted because humans were adversely affecting the environment to a noticeable and detrimental extent…Noting that a particular environmental resource is degraded is not an excuse or justification for further degradation. The Corps must analyze the individual and cumulative impacts of the proposed activity against the environmental baseline, not as a percentage of the decades or centuries of degrading activities that came before.

As to the use of pesticides by the industry, the judge has additional harsh criticism,”The Corps makes a similarly untenable argument whenever the use of pesticides in a
shellfish operation permitted under NWP 48 is discussed. While acknowledging that these substances are used and released into the environment during permitted activities, the Corps declines to consider the environmental impacts of pesticides because they are regulated by some other entity… Even if the Corps does not have jurisdiction to permit or prohibit the use of pesticides, it is obligated to consider “other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions regardless of what agency (Federal or non-Federal) or person undertakes such other actions.” The Corps’ decision to ignore the
foreseeable uses and impacts of pesticides in the activities it permitted on a nationwide basis does not comport with the mandate of NEPA or with its obligations under the CWA. Having eschewed any attempt to describe the uses of pesticides in commercial shellfish aquaculture or to analyze their likely environmental impacts, the decision to permit such activities through NWP 48 cannot stand.” (emphasis mine)

“The record is devoid of any indication that the Corps considered regional data,
catalogued the species in and characteristics of the aquatic environments in which commercial shellfish aquaculture activities occur, considered the myriad techniques, equipment, and materials used in shellfish aquaculture, attempted to quantify the impacts the permitted activity would likely have on the identified species and characteristics, or evaluated the impacts of the as-yet-unknown regional conditions…Faced with incredible diversity in both the environment and the activities permitted under NWP 48, the Corps effectively threw up its hands and turned the impact analyses over to the district engineers.”

In looking at the problem of plastic pollution in aquaculture the judge was additionally critical.”The Corps’ analysis with regards to plastic debris discharged into the marine environment is even more problematic. The Corps acknowledges the many public comments raising concerns about the introduction of plastics into the marine food web, but relies on the fact that “[d]ivision engineers can impose regional conditions to address the use of plastics” in response to these concerns. The Seattle District, for its part, declined to quantify the impact of plastics, instead noting that “it would not be a practicable solution to regionally condition NWP 48 to not allow the use of PVC and HDPE gear as there are no current practicable alternatives to use of the materials…The CWA requires the Corps to make minimal adverse effect findings before issuing a general permit. If, as appears to be the case with regards to the discharge of plastics from the permitted operations, the Corps is unable to make such a finding, a general permit cannot (be) issue(d). The Corps has essentially acknowledged that it needs to individually evaluate the impacts of a particular operation, including the species grown,
the cultivation techniques/gear used, and the specific location, before it can determine the extent of the impacts the operation will have.”

The decision is not trivial. It rips apart industry arguments made over the last decade that eelgrass recovery in aquaculture farms is a minor issue. The aquaculture industry and Taylor Shellfish in particular has put itself at the head of county agencies supposedly in the business to protect the nearshore from harm and then used these faulty scientific studies to promote their position.  The Jefferson County Marine Resources Committee, which claims on it’s web page to have the mission, “to protect and restore the marine environments of East Jefferson County by raising community awareness of issues…” has been chaired by an aquaculture industry spokesperson who routinely has used these same discredited arguments to suppress any discussion of negative impacts on the nearshore the MRC claims to protect.  The Committee has meekly gone along with the bullying tactics of the Taylor representative at public meetings, unwilling to push back on what the spokesperson has claimed to be ‘scientific  studies’.  The Committee in fact sponsored a ‘aquaculture educational day” to promote these same, now discredited scientific studies, offering no substantial criticism to the statements of the industry. The lack of any counter balance to the industry’s PR blitz angered many in the environmental community on the Olympic Peninsula toward this committee that had a long history of standing to protect the nearshore. The decision to not include substantial criticism of the industry led the long time environmental representative on the committee to resign.

The outcome of this case is unclear at the time of this writing. However, it will likely have a substantial effect on future shellfish farm permits, and may force the closure of some larger farms that were recently permitted, until such time as adequate scientific study on their effects is done. The ruling ends with the judge throwing out the Army’s ability to issue permits in Washington. However, the judge does say to Taylor and others that they can apply for individual permits. The Court has the ability to allow a “period of time in which growers can avail themselves of the process before the existing permits would be invalidated or to fashion some other equitable remedy to minimize both the risks of environmental harm  and any disruptive consequences.” So there is some wiggle room for the growers to get some activities going to mitigate the effects of this ruling.

This case also fully vindicates the environmentalists’ concerns over the ever expanding industry, it’s conversion of pristine shorelines to monoculture farming and the allies of this industry in city, county and state government. The industry is not down and out yet. It’s worth noting that Taylor has apparently spent tens of thousands of dollars lobbying back in Washington D.C. and is likely to support Republican efforts to roll back the Clean Water Act to eliminate the local nature of permitting to favor national ones. Given this ruling, that likely is a losing tactic.

This blog will continue to follow this breaking story with further updates as we receive them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pinto Abalone Seeking State Endangered Species Listing

This is a very good idea who’s time has come, however late. Pinto Abalone stocks have collapsed in the Salish Sea and WDFW has been working hard for twenty years to try and reverse this.  Help out by supporting this effort and sending in letters of support to the email or mailing address below.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is seeking your input on a status review of the pinto abalone (Haliotis kamtschatkana), a Candidate for State Endangered Species.  Populations of these iconic marine snails have not recovered from historic harvests and may merit additional protection.  We recognize that Washington based state and federal natural resource agencies have an important perspective on the status of our state’s marine species and habitats. We would appreciate your participation in the following way:
 Directly submit your opinions and/or questions regarding the status review to:
 
Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife
c/o Michael Ulrich, Fish Program
P.O. Box 43200
Olympia, WA 98504-3200
 
 
(360) 902-2737
 
What is the current status of pinto abalone in Washington?  Some receiving this notice may recall an era in Washington when legal take of abalone was allowed and healthy populations existed in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and San Juan Archipelago.  Recognizing a declining trend in populations during dive surveys, the department closed the recreational fishery in 1994.  Since that time, the department has continued regular monitoring and results indicate that surveyed populations continue to decline or are entirely absent from areas once well established.  Additionally, the increasing average size of remnant abalone, and absence of juveniles, indicates an aging population with little natural reproduction.  Finding abalone anywhere in Washington waters is becoming more and more difficult.
 
           What has the department been doing about these observed declines?  By the early 2000’s it had become apparent that pinto abalone populations were unlikely to recover to sustainable levels without human intervention.  A species restoration partnership was initiated with local non-profit organizations, as well as, tribes, universities, government agencies and commercial aquaculture.  A captive breeding program was developed to produce hatchery juveniles for distribution into the wild. The resulting restoration program uses local, wild broodstock to rear disease-free juvenile abalone and, since 2009, has placed over 16,000 juveniles to sites in the San Juan Islands.  Sites have been regularly monitored to assess growth and survival of the hatchery-origin abalone and the results have been encouraging.  Many sites have matured into groups of adults at reproductive densities, although, a significant scale-up of the program will be necessary to achieve meaningful results on a state-wide basis. 
 
What happens now?  We are communicating to interested parties around the state to solicit data, opinions, and questions regarding the listing proposal.  Following this period of public comment and a peer review of a draft status report (available on our website in December), the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will consider the status of the species.  Please lend your voice to the discussion by submitting your opinions or attending a public meeting.  (the meetings were advertised and held in early December in PT)
The period of public comment will conclude on March 31st, 2019.  We hope to hear from you about the status of this integral species to Washington’s nearshore marine environment.
 
For more information, please visit    https://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/pinto_abalone/
 
Thank you in advance for your help.
 
Sincerely,                                                                                               
 
 
Michael Ulrich, Shellfish Biologist
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

Northwest Watershed Institute study suggests reason behind eagle gathering at Dabob Bay – PDN

The Peninsula Daily News has a story about a new research paper created by Peter Bahls of the Northwest Watershed Institute (NWI).  Bahls and biologist Heather Gordon wrote the paper, “Bald Eagles, Oyster Beds, and the Plainfin Midshipman: Ecological Relationships in Dabob Bay,” which explores the relationship of eagles, oyster beds and a kind of forage fish called the Plainfin Midshipman. Read this fascinating story about what new research by the NWI has shown about the relationships, and how the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe are working with the data to better protect the eagles and the spawning fish.

https://www.peninsuladailynews.com/news/northwest-watershed-institute-study-suggests-reason-behind-eagle-gathering-at-dabob-bay/

 

 

Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe seeks to rename clamming beach – PDN

It’s great news that the Tribe is working to change the name of this location from the “Log Yard” (a reference to the years when logs were skidded and stored there), to Littleneck Beach, which describes the traditional use of the beach for thousands of years, and it’s current use by Tribal Elder Marlin Holden.

The tribe filed paperwork with the state Department of Natural Resources to rename the beach to Littleneck Beach, a name it said honors the generations of S’Klallam ancestors who have gathered clams at that location.

Read the whole story at

https://www.peninsuladailynews.com/news/jamestown-sklallam-tribe-seeks-to-rename-clamming-beach/

Subscribe to local newspapers to continue to help them thrive!

 

State Fish & Wildlife propose endangered listing for Pinto Abalone

Washington State Department of Fish & Wildlife have proposed listing the Pinto Abalone (Haliotis kamtschatkana) as endangered locally. Though attempts at cultivation have been tried, they have not been  considered successful at levels capable of sustaining the population.

Pinto Abalone have been in significant decline since the late 1980s. While there never was a commercial fishery for them, recreational divers harvested untold amounts, as the catch was never monitored. Habitat destruction also is understood to have played a role.

According to the WDFW web site (https://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/pinto_abalone/):

The overall goal of the abalone recovery team is to halt the declines of abalone populations in the Pacific Northwest and to return populations to self-sustainable levels.  Such a long term goal requires a suite of interim goals and the development of numerous methodologies.  To date, such interim goals have enabled the abalone recovery team to successfully:

  • Develop hatchery and nursery programs for captive propagation and rearing of abalone.

  • Develop protocols to maintain genetically diverse and disease-free families in restoration hatchery facilities.

  • Conduct experimental outplants of juvenile hatchery reared abalone to assess the efficacy of outplants as a restoration strategy.

  • Aggregate adult abalone in the wild to enhance reproductive potential and to assess this method as a restoration strategy.

  • Outplant abalone post-larvae at experimental locations to assess this method as a restoration strategy.

  • Draft a collaborative  Pinto Abalone Recovery Plan for Washington.

  • Launch a public outreach campaign targeting divers, schools, boaters, fishers and the general public.

This body of work represents nearly two decades of basic and applied science and has laid the foundation for increasing the scale of the abalone recovery effort.   Such an effort will require a broad coalition of scientists, advocates, policymakers, and volunteers. For more information on this process please contact WDFW lead abalone biologist Michael Ulrich (hyperlink to : Michael.Ulrich@dfw.wa.gov).

WHAT YOU CAN DO: WDFW is soliciting any available data on the species, and seeks public comment on a proposal to list the pinto abalone as a State Endangered Species.  Please consider attending one of the following public meetings:

December 4, 2018, 6:00 p.m.
Northwest Maritime Center
431 Water Street, Port Townsend, WA 98368

Or, submit comments and questions to:

WDFW, Fish Program, attention: Michael Ulrich
P.O. Box 43200
Olympia, WA 98504-3200
(360) 902-2737
Michael.Ulrich@dfw.wa.gov

 

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

EVENT: Industrial Aquaculture Discussion – Sat Oct 13th 3 to 5 PM

aquaculturepanelposterprintpdf

Aquaculture MEDIA RELEASE – 2 October 2018

MEDIA RELEASE – 2 October 2018

CONTACT:         Darlene Schanfald, Vice-Chair

Sierra Club North Olympic Group

360-681-7565    darlenes@olympus.net

INDUSTRIAL AQUACULTURE  

FOOD or FOLLY?   LOSING THE WILD?

Saturday    13 October 2018     3–5 PM

Historic Dungeness Schoolhouse 

2781 Towne Rd, Just off E. Anderson Road

The Sierra Club’s North Olympic Group and the Sierra Club Chapter Water Salmon Committee invites the public to join them for this important forum about how our oceans are being commercialized for the few and the losses that follow.

We are pleased to have the following speakers present their work from years of experience.

Kurt Beardslee, Executive Director, Wild Fish Conservancy (WFC)

The Success of the Our Sound, Our Salmon Campaign: Phasing Out Atlantic Salmon Aquaculture in Puget Sound. 

Kurt Beardslee is the executive director and co-founder of the Wild Fish Conservancy. For over a decade Kurt and his science staff have investigated the substantial risk open-water Atlantic salmon aquaculture places on the Pacific Northwest’s wild salmon.

In spring of 2017, WFC launched the Our Sound, Our Salmon (OSOS) campaign with the goal of phasing out Atlantic salmon net pens from Puget Sound.  The OSOS campaign was fundamental to the passage of Washington’s recent net pen legislation marking the largest legislative removal of Atlantic salmon net pens in the world.

Following the 2017 Cypress Island collapse of Cooke Aquaculture pens that released 260,000 penned Atlantic salmon into the wild, WFC staff collected tissue samples from the escapees for that revealed 100% positive test results for Piscine Reovirus (PRV), a highly contagious and debilitating salmonid disease. Genetic sequencing revealed the virus to be of Icelandic origin marking the first time this foreign strain of the virus was found in Pacific waters.

In his talk, Kurt will discuss the numerous risks posed by farming Atlantic salmon in open-water net pens as well as potential land-based closed containment solutions for this industry. He will give a brief overview of WFC’s current litigation to hold Cooke Aquaculture accountable under the Clean Water Act for releasing 260,000 non-native Atlantic salmon into Puget Sound.  He will also discuss WFC’s ongoing Endangered Species Act (ESA) suit against the federal government for its failure to adequately protect ESA-listed species from the harm caused by industrial Atlantic salmon net pens.

 

Laura Hendricks, Founding Director Coalition To Protect Puget Sound.

Shellfish and Disappearing Beaches

Over the last 11 years, Laura Hendricks’s Coalition has educated the public and regulators on shellfish aquaculture’s harm to WA State’s marine life. Hendricks represented citizens against the shellfish industry at a hearing before the Washington State Shorelines Hearings Board and won the case to protect eelgrass, a WA State Appeals Court precedent-setting case.

Hendricks will give an update about pending legal action by the Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat, Protect Zangle Cove, and Wild Fish Conservancy filed against the WA Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).  That suit demands an end to WDFW’s exemption of industrial shellfish aquaculture projects from Hydraulic Project Approvals (HPA).  HPAs are state standards designed and required to protect fish and marine habitats.

“With threatened Southern Resident killer whales and endangered native salmon at extreme risk, our state agencies have failed to implement the environmental protections that are critical to the broad scale ecological recovery of Puget Sound,” says Patrick Townsend, president of Protect Zangle Cove. “The action we are taking today is one important step toward restoring sanity to the recovery process. We must protect the tidelands from further loss of ecological function or we will see the loss of iconic species so important to the people of Washington State.”

Alfredo Quarto, Co-director and Co-founder of Mangrove Action Project (MAP)

Question Your Shrimp, A consumer Awareness Campaign

For twenty-five years, Alfredo Quarto has worked with indigenous cultures around the world helping them restore their mangrove forests and way of life, prior to corporations having destroyed their ecosystems to industrialize the raising of shrimp. He will have a short video about these villages and mangrove trees.

Quarto is a veteran campaigner with over 40 years of experience in organizing and writing on the environment and human rights issues.  Formerly an aerospace engineer, his experiences range over many countries and several environmental organizations, with a long-term focus on ocean issues, forestry, indigenous cultures, and human rights.  Prior to MAP, he was the executive director of the Ancient Forest Chautauqua, a multimedia traveling forum with events in 30 West Coast cities on behalf of old-growth forests and indigenous dwellers.

Anne Mosness, Go Wild Campaign

Current and Pending Efforts of the Federal Government to Raise Penned Fish

Anne Mosness has been tracking the federal NOAA Department of Commerce in its push to raise penned salmon in offshore waters, beyond jurisdictions and regulations of states.  She will speak on the current pending efforts, and losses, of such government efforts.  The public will hear about the recent Center For Food Safety legal win for fishing and public interest groups that challenged the Department of Commerce’s rules permitting industrial aquaculture offshore in U.S. federal waters.

Anne Mosness is a fisherwoman that fished Copper River and Bristol Bay, Alaska for decades, a multi-general family profession.  She secured a position with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and founded the Go Wild Campaign. She has worked for several other national environmental and food organizations, received a fellowship from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, represented US fisheries at UN forums and Slow Food/Slow Fish conferences in Italy, and other global and national events focused on sustainable foods and fishing, seafood labeling, organic certification, marine ecosystem health. Anne has been a long time contributor to the Puget Consumer Coop’s Sound Consumer magazine.  Her latest article in the PCC magazine is entitled,  “Wild salmon, killer whales and us” published July, 2018.

Cosponsoring the event are Friends of Miller Peninsula State Park, Olympic Environmental Coalition, Olympic Forest Coalition. and Protect Peninsula’s Future.

The October 13 event is free.  Handouts from the sponsoring and presenting organizations will be available.  Coffee and tea will be served.

####

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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?

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/

Coalition Wins Shorelines Hearings Board Geoduck Aquaculture Appeal

The Washington Shorelines Hearings Board ruled in favor of the Coalition To Protect Puget Sound Habitat and reversing and dening the first subtidal/intertidal geoduck aquaculture permit approved in Washington by Pierce County (see attached decision).

The Board concluded that “This farm located on a shoreline of statewide significance means that particular consideration must be given to balancing aquaculture as one statewide interest, with other statewide interests like the ecological values and the public’s recreational use.”

“The careful review required for this shoreline of statewide significance weighs in favor of requiring a cumulative impact analysis of the impacts that might result from granting the first subtidal geoduck farm permit in Henderson Bay-in particular to assess the potential for longer term impacts to fragile resources like eelgrass, as well as unique use of the area by recreationalists like windsurfers.”

For more information on the work of the Coalition To Protect Puget Sound Habitat and the Washington State Sierra Club to protect fragile marine resources, please visit:

http://coalitiontoprotectpugetsoundhabitat.org/

http://washington.sierraclub.org/tatoosh/Aquaculture/index.asp

2013 NW Straits: Alexis Valauir -Ocean Acidification Effects on Global Communities

From the 2013 NW Straits Annual Conference, a most interesting talk:

Alexis Valauri-Orton recently completed a year-long Watson Fellowship investigating human narratives of ocean acidification in Norway, Hong Kong, Thailand, New Zealand, the Cook Islands and Peru. Over the year, she traded her lab coat for a pair of gum boots, experiencing firsthand the role marine resources play in coastal communities. Investigating narratives of acidification in such diverse communities, she discovered the importance of understanding and navigating the social structures that shape our vulnerabilities and responses to environmental issues. She holds a degree in Biology and Environmental Studies from Davidson College, in North Carolina, and now lives in her hometown of Seattle. She believes increasing scientific literacy and public awareness on issues like ocean acidification is the key to creating a sustainable future.

The Powerpoints of her talk are found at the NW Straits web site:

http://www.nwstraits.org/Whats-New/Meetings-Events/2013-MRC-Conference.aspx

or directly here (This downloads the presentation to your computer)

Click to access Valauri-Orton-OA.pdf

You can download this for use on a device like an ipod or iphone, or just listen to it right here on your computer.

 

 

Warnings on oysters – Multiple sources.

Oysters are considered an aphrodisiac, but what happens to them in hot weather isn’t so sexy. Warm air and water during summer make an ideal environment for a natural bacteria called vibrio parahaemolyticus to grow in oysters. Raw oysters, especially ones with the bacteria, can make people who eat them sick. Gina Cole reports.

Raw oysters risky during warmer months  http://www.goskagit.com/all_access/raw-oysters-risky-during-warmer-months/article_67523d12-e37a-11e2-bc29-0019bb2963f4.html

See also: Be vigilant about illness from tainted commercial shellfish, B.C. doctors told http://www.vancouversun.com/news/vigilant+about+illness+from+tainted+commercial+shellfish/8608330/story.html

Highly Controversial Decision Against Point Reyes Oyster Farm- Marin Independent Journal

We here on the Olympic Peninsula and Salish Sea, aren’t the only ones dealing with the controversy over aquaculture farming. The shellfish industry is up in arms, even up here, over the ruling by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, to end the lease with Drake Bay Oyster Co. on Point Reyes. This action, if left to stand, will end with the removal of the farm, the loss of 30 jobs, and the closing of one of the last oyster farms left in California.

The controversy exists over the reading of the lease, which apparently offered the shellfish farm with the ability to renew the lease, but the Parks department is saying that is not the case.

With powerful political allies like Senator Diane Feinstein siding with the oyster company, and the shellfish industry that is planning to sue to overturn the decision, I don’t think we have heard the end of this issue.

The bizarre part of this, is that the decision allows continued ranching and farming within the park, which one could argue would be vastly more destructive to the land than a small oyster farm operation. Also, given that the decision came just after the election, that this was in the works for months, with the election holding back the decision.

It is hard to understand the science behind this decision. These decisions often are not based in sound science, as witnessed by the NOAA decision last year to push whale watch boats even farther away from the Orcas in the San Juans. Having read the science behind the decision, I have to feel that there was more politics at play than reasonable science based decision making.

In the notion of “following the money”, it would be interesting to know who owns the ranches that were granted the free ride, and whether those people donated to any major political campaigns or not.

http://www.marinij.com/basketball/ci_22090541/drakes-bay-oyster-company-will-have-leave

%d bloggers like this: