Endangered Species Act protections sought for a Northwest freshwater mussel -OPB

Another species needing urgent protection here in our State. While this is specific to Central Oregon I assume that these are found in our waters as well.

A 2017 analysis that looked at historic versus recent distributing areas of the species and found that the populations have declined by almost 50% of its historic range and it has been accelerating in recent years.

A nonprofit conservation group has filed a petition for Endangered Species Act protections for a unique species of mussel that is vanishing from rivers and streams in the Pacific Northwest.

https://www.opb.org/article/2020/08/20/endangered-species-act-protections-sought-for-a-northwest-freshwater-mussel/

‘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

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

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

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)

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/

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

Taylor Shellfish Denied Mussel Farm Expansion in Thurston County

Thurston County Commissioners have denied Taylor Shellfish’s mussel farm permit because cumulative impacts were not adequately considered. This doesn’t seem to mean that Taylor cannot come back with more data. The refusal had to do with not presenting what the Hearing Examiner, a lawyer by trade, felt was compelling cumulative impacts of the proposed farm.

The legal precedent behind this decision appears to have been from a variety of already resolved lawsuits, including one by the coalition of a group of six citizen organizations that have been fighting the expansion of shellfish farms, mainly in the South Sound.

Again, it’s interesting to note that the Puget Sound Partnership did not weigh in at all on this case, for either side.

Read the short PDF of the ruling here. There is a longer document of the actual findings from the Hearings Examiner available on line if you wish.

http://www.co.thurston.wa.us/permitting/hearing/decisions/2012/961372.bocc.decision.taylor.pdf

Hood Canal Shellfish Closed Due To Vibrio – State of WA

If you have purchased or dug shellfish on Hood Canal in the last few days, you might want to consider this news.

Hood Canal 5 growing area is closed effective immediately because of a Vibrio parahaemolyticus-associated illness outbreak involving six unrelated people. According to the Model Ordinance Chapter II, when a
growing area is closed for naturally-occurring pathogens, a recall must be initiated; the recall will apply to all oyster product harvested on and after August 16, 2012. All growers in Hood Canal 5 will be
contacted telephonically with details. The growing area may be reopened when it is determined that the naturally-occurring pathogen is no longer a risk to public health. If you have any questions, please contact Richard G. Lillie, MPH State Standardization Officer at 360.236.3313 or via email, or Cari Franz-West at 360.236.3326. Questions about the recall may be addressed to Frank Cox at
360.236.3309.

State Closes More Strait Beaches to Shellfish

While I cannot find confirmation of this on either DNR ro WFW web sites, the PDN is reporting that a mussel sample taken from Ediz Hook earlier this week has led to the closure for shellfish harvesting of additional beaches on the Strait of Juan de Fuca because of elevated levels of the potentially deadly paralytic shellfish poisoning, or PSP. Strait beaches from Dungeness Spit west to Cape Flattery now are closed to recreational harvesting of all species of shellfish.

 More Strait beaches closed to harvesting http://peninsuladailynews.com/article/20120629/news/306299994/more-strait-beaches-closed-to-harvesting

Penn Cove company shifts shellfish harvesting operation to Quilcene Bay–Port Townsend Leader

Luckily for Penn Cove Shellfish, they have a backup location. Hope that the State starts taking derelict vessels more seriously after this.

Until it gets the “all clear” notice that Penn Cove waters are clean, Penn Cove Shellfish has relocated its mussel-harvesting operation to its Quilcene Bay farm on Hood Canal.

Read the whole article at the PTleader online

http://www.ptleader.com/main.asp?FromHome=1&TypeID=1&ArticleID=31481&SectionID=36&SubSectionID=55

Combating Snails To Save Oysters – OPB.org

Imagine you’re an oyster laying snugly in your bed in Willapa Bay, filtering in nutrients while growing to two and a half inches in diameter. And then you feel a weight on your quarter-inch thick shell and a short time later you begin to hear a grinding sound. Slowly, inexorably over the next few hours the drilling continues as the radula (a sandpaper-like tongue) of an Atlantic or Asian oyster drill snail takes away debris that its secretions of hydrochloric acid has created on your shell. When the snail inevitably pokes through your shell, its proboscis makes you its next meal.

http://news.opb.org/article/combating_snails_to_save_oysters/

Sequim Bay shellfish harvest shut down. Recall in process.

Ugly new toxin showing up in Sequim Bay. First time found in U.S. waters. Bad business.

OLYMPIA, WASH. High levels of a foreign biotoxin has been discovered in some Washington state shellfish.

The Washington State Department of Health said Thursday that this is the first time that unacceptable levels of the toxin has been found in U.S. food. It’s typically found in European counties and was recently found in British Columbia waters.

Read more: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2011/08/11/2138544/high-levels-of-biotoxin-found.html#ixzz1UrJJLGdq

Geoduck Article–Kitsap Sun

Economic benefits, ecological questions stall geoduck industry’s growth ; Geoduck farming, a unique industry in the region, has been slowed by legal and scientific challenges”

http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2011/jul/23/economic-benefits-ecological-questions-stall/

Washington poised to get tougher with shellfish operators

3/1 KPLU-FM
By Austin Jenkins and KPLU News Staff

Last summer, we brought you a story about gaps in the system that’s supposed to keep Washington shellfish safe to eat. Now state lawmakers appear ready to get tougher with shellfish operators who violate food safety laws.

Early last year, Washington Fish and Wildlife cops shut down a Hood Canal shellfish harvesting operation. They allege G&R Seafood poached $500,ooo worth of oysters and clams from state and private beaches.

But Fish and Wildlife police say even after the business was raided, the company’s owner – who denies any wrongdoing – was spotted selling shellfish at fairs and other public gatherings. But Chief Deputy Mike Cenci says there was nothing his officers could do since it was G&R’s harvesting license <http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/>  that had been yanked:

More at
http://www.kplu.org/post/washington-poised-get-tougher-shellfish-operators

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