Divers seek lost crab pots in Washington waters – Bellingham Herald

It’s amazing the scope of crab pot loss each year and the damage they do. This work, sponsored by the Northwest Straits Initiative, which funds our local Marine Resource Committees (of which I chair the Jefferson County MRC), has uncovered an enormous problem and is in the process of solving it. A big win for Washington and our habitat. 

— Over 12,000 crab pots are lost in Washington state’s Puget Sound every year, costing an estimated $700,000 in lost harvest revenue, and more poignantly, damaging the sea floor environment. Using sonar to find the pots, divers and scientists venture into the waters to clean up and learn why pots are lost

Support local journalism. Subscribe to the Bellingham Herald. 

Program Director Position Announcement for Port Townsend Marine Science Center

The Port Townsend Marine Science Center (PTMSC) is seeking an exceptional leader in marine science education to help lead the organization in a doubling of our impact over the next 10 years. We at PTMSC serve our mission to inspire conservation of the Salish Sea by focusing in three areas: lifelong education programs, citizen science research and engaging visitor experiences in our aquarium which features touch tanks and natural history exhibitions featuring an adult Orca skeleton. The Program Director oversees the operation of each of these core competencies. Operating as a 501(c)(3) non-profit located in the Fort Worden State Park, with a $700,000 operating budget, 7 full time staff, and 200 plus volunteers, PTMSC serves 20,000 people annually.

The successful Program Director candidate will have solid content knowledge of marine science, a proven track record in leading growth while managing to a budget, and an infectious approach to inspiring collective action towards a healthy marine environment.

More details can be found at http://www.ptmsc.org/employment.html. Please no phone inquiries.

Only applications submitted electronically will be accepted. Please email resume and cover letter to: ProgramDirectorPossition@PTMSC.org. Applications will be accepted until position is filled.

Two more resident orcas are missing. Now down to 78.

The population keeps falling.  Signs are pointing the wrong way. 

From Orca Network: “We’re saddened to report that the Center for Whale Research has announced that two Southern Resident orcas, L53 Lulu and L100 Indigo, have not been seen with their families in 2014 and are presumed deceased. 37-year-old female L53 lost her mother, L7, in 2010, and had no siblings. L100, a 13-year-old male, was born to L54 Ino and had two siblings, L108, an 8-year-old brother, and L117, born in 2010, gender still unknown. This brings the Southern Residents’ overall population down to 78, the same number that led to their listing as endangered under the ESA. No newborns have been seen since August, 2012.”

Update on the Elwha Dam Removal – PDN

Report on the river now that the final dam has been blasted away. Still some cleanup but the end is in sight. 


Weekly update on Crabbing season activity – PDN

If you are wondering about where you can crab, here’s the weekly report by the PDN outdoor writer, Michael Carman


Washington Dept of Health Post New Recreational Shellfish Safety App

The State Dept of Health have a new interactive map you can use on your smartphone or tablet when in the field. Want to know if the beach you are clamming on is safe? Try this. https://fortress.wa.gov/doh/eh/maps/biotoxin/biotoxin.html


The Environment, The Transpac Partnership and the Democrats

My wife and I spent time today with the Democrats, at the annual Jefferson County Democratic Fish Fry, a 30th anniversary of a highly successful gathering to support the Democratic Party. Given that there are no stated Republicans running for office in Jefferson County this year, I guess you can call it a victory party.

With the usual stump speeches by all the candidates, there was one that stood out in contrast to the others. Derek Kilmer, the District’s well loved US House of Representatives incumbent, gave a funny, thoughtful  speech to the supportive crowd. However, one issue he touched on hit a nerve with me. He brought up the Trans Pacific Partnership and his belief in the benefits it will bestow on businesses here in Washington and the US. He sited NAFTA and how this is a logical extension of it. And that it will help bolster environmental standards (as well as labor) that we hold dear. Among the crowd, were many with anti-TPP buttons on. This is not a simple Democratic vote.

As for me, I thought Derek’s timing someone problematic. While he claims that this TPP will somehow ensure that our environmental standards are taken over “there”, we are staring at a horrible environmental catastrophe playing out a days drive from here, in British Columbia.  The Mount Polley Tailings Pond collapse, into pristine Quenelle Lake, which flows into the Fraser and the Salish Sea, along with the subsequent  absurd government comments that it’s not a problem and lack of even rudimentary cleanup in the last three weeks, points to the problem. We were told that NAFTA would bring out environmental stances to Mexico and further south. We didn’t need to mention Canada because most people believed that Canada is at least as good as we are. But the reality is that, since NAFTA, Canada has become an political monoculture of one party rule, allowing the dismantling of all environmental regulations, and those not dismantled are ignored. Just this year, thousands of lakes were removed from environmental protection, the main science library  for the country was defunded. The books with over a century of research were literally thrown in the trash, and what little passes for environmental law was reversed by small type insertions into existing laws. Their Federal Government has passed laws allowing oil and gas exploration (and subsequent drilling) in Banff and other National Parks. Can you imagine if we decided to allow such drilling in Big Sur, Yosemite, or elsewhere? Yet the average Canadian seems to be more interested in hockey than their parks, with some exceptions.  It makes the attempts to gut US Environmental laws by James Watt during the Reagan Administration and Cheney under Bush, look like amateur hour. Canada now has some of the weakest environmental laws in the industrialized world, outside China. The air quality in some cities in Alberta resemble Peking at it’s worse.

The only real possible legal remedy that the US has is not NAFTA, but the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty Act, which gives the US legal authority to negotiate with Canada over disputes on cross border waters. Since the pollution of the Fraser River with toxins from Mount Polley could create health hazards for decades for the Salish Sea, into which the Fraser flows, this could be a mechanism to force cleanup of the spill.

So there is great reason not to believe the political party line when it comes to TPP. What guarantees do we really have that any of our strong environmental protections will really be enforced ‘over there’? Who is demanding that Canada actually stop or slow it’s self destructive plunge to destroy it’s citizens health, it’s parks and it’s environment, just for the quick buck of this decades’ oil needs? Certainly not NAFTA. And as to NAFTA having created better environmental regulations in Mexico, well, just go to Mexico and see for yourself. Not happening.

Sorry Derek, I’ll likely vote for you, but on this one you are just wrong, you need to dig deeper. It appears to a casual glance that you are listening to the business interests over labor and environmental voices. TPP is not going to bring us anything that NAFTA or the other trade agreements have. It will put money in the pockets of huge multi-national corporations, who seem hell bent on moving corporate headquarters overseas to avoid paying US taxes.. If you want to prove us wrong, go get Canada to do something about the Mount Polley spill, before the mercury and other toxins reach the Salish Sea and our joint fisheries.

Thoughts on the Mount Polley Tailing Mines Disaster – What it means to us

The ongoing nightmare on Quesnel Lake from the Mount Polley Tailing “Pond”, has huge ramifications for us in Washington State and the Olympic Peninsula. This fiasco is being whitewashed by the politicians from both the Provincial and the Federal level in Canada. The official line is ‘it’s not that bad” when the truth is it’s likely far worse than anyone imagines. Huge amounts of highly toxic materials, including the possibility of radioactive material (that is now being discussed in official circles), pose grave downstream risks to the Salish Sea  and the wildlife that passes through it on their way elsewhere.

The primary talked about toxin in this stew is mercury. Lots of it. It’s used in this kind of mining and ends up being a by-product that can’t be removed,  just managed. We already deal with mercury in our fish, to a manageable degree, and it’s affects are well known and avoided. However, without knowing how much mercury might be in the tailings that are now in the Lake, the government has been suggesting that there is nothing to fear from the water. Let’s be clear, mercury ingested in significant amounts can cause Minamata’s Disease. Look it up on Wikipedia. It was highlighted in a Pulitzer Prize winning article in Life Magazine in the 1970s, photographed by Eugene Smith, when an entire village in Minamata Japan suffered from horrible birth defects because of unregulated mercury poisoning. The Canadian Government is putting it’s people at serious risk by inaction. And us too. 

To quote part of the Wikipedia article:

Symptoms (of mercury poisoning and Minamata Disease) includeataxianumbness in the hands and feet, general muscle weakness, narrowing of the field of vision, and damage tohearing and speech. In extreme cases, insanityparalysiscoma, and death follow within weeks of the onset of symptoms. A congenital form of the disease can also affect foetuses in the womb.

All these were experienced in Japan in the 70s in Minamata. 

And this is just one of the toxins that was contained behind this tailing dam. 

Without immediate work to setup coffer dams and drain the areas around the spill in Quesnel Lake, we may see a huge amount of mercury, along with other toxins, enter the Salish Sea,  and undoubtably affect the Sockeye that come out of Quesnel, one of the largest sockeye spawning habitat in Canada.

These fish make up the primary food of the remaining local pods of Orcas. And our fishermen catch them and we eat them. Lots of them. In other words, our fishing industry and our Orcas could be at risk.

We need our politicians to act now, to demand that the Canadian government stop pretending this not a serious problem and begin cleanup of this spill. There has been to date, no work begun on cleaning up the spill! (as of Sunday August 24)

This is not just about the lame excuses that Victoria and their muzzled scientists gives us about how they think their untreated sewage is not affecting the Straits. This is about possibly poisoning our fish and ourselves. And if we don’t stop it soon, it may be permanent. An oozing toxic mess that’s not cleaned up will pose a threat for decades to come. Just ask the folks at Hanford. The  comments coming from high level government Canadian officials are true doublespeak.  To be clear, the simplest way of understanding this is that if the massive amounts of tailing waste were not a danger to human health and the environment why are they held behind these ponds in the first place? It’s because they have been proven, for over 100 years, to be very harmful, if not deadly, to plants and animals, including us! There is no ‘lucky break’ (as stated by a senior government official) in a dump of this magnitude, there is only a bad outcome of various magnitudes.

The mine managers and the regulators that refused to enforce the laws, have created an environmental disaster of monumental proportion that has yet to fully unfold. What matters now is protecting the entire river systems that will carry this muck to the ocean. And protect the drinking water that might be pulled out of the river for human consumption. 

What’s the possibility of the US having a significant say in this issue? Read the following excellent article about our treaties with Canada, and the power that we have to force them to change legally. And remember that it’s because we have a Democratic, environmentally supportive president that we can read something like this. In a different previous era, our government would likely have been looking the other way in support of rampant environmental degradation.

Stephen Hume: Political fallout from Mount Polley mine spill may come from U.S.

Save our state environmental budgets. Vote NO on 1033

This may be the most important vote you may make in years. Initiative 1033 proposes to limit state and local government spending at current recessionary levels and to base any increases in future years on a rigid formula or on voter approval. The effect would be an estimated $6 billion reduction by 2015 in state general fund revenues alone, seriously reducing education, health, social services and environmental programs, not to mention reductions in local government services.

Initiative 1033 aims to lock in state and local government spending at this year’s recession levels. It proposes to establish this year’s state and local government budgets as a base line and to limit increases in subsequent years’ budgets to a formula based on inflation and population growth. Any state or local government revenues exceeding a year’s budgetary limit would be returned to property owners as a property tax cut. If state or local governments want to exceed the limits imposed by the initiative, they can do so if they receive the majority approval of voters.

What’s wrong with Initiative 1033 and why it should be soundly defeated:

• The national recession forced $1.5 billion in cuts to education, caused 35,000 people to lose health insurance and cost thousands of jobs. By limiting state, counties and city budgets to recession-era levels, those cuts would become permanent.

• I-1033 would force even deeper cuts in the future, because the state’s ability to provide services wouldn’t go up with costs and demand.

• I-1033’s formula is rigid and arbitrary and would only cause more cutbacks in services. The costs of many services go up faster than the rate of inflation — in particular education and health care. The independent Washington Budget & Policy Center estimates that I-1033’s formula would provide just 38 percent of the revenue necessary to continue to fund public education at current levels.

• I-1033’s formula for population growth doesn’t take into account that certain areas of our population will cost the state more than others. The state’s growing senior population will need more medical care and services, but I-1033’s formula doesn’t take that into account.

• The non-partisan Washington State Office of Financial Management found that “…the initiative reduces state general fund revenues that support education; social, health and environmental services; and general government activities by an estimated $5.9 billion by 2015.”

Dept of Ecology finally approves rain barrels

Apparently Jay Manning approved the use of rain barrels before leaving.. The story was covered by Chris Dunagan in his recent column.

Rainwater harvesting at home given a ‘thumbs up’

October 15th, 2009 by cdunagan

Jay Manning’s last official act as director of the Washington Department of Ecology was to announce that a water right will not be required to collect rainwater from the roof of a building.

It has been a bone of contention among some folks that state water law appears to require a water rights permit for the diversion of “water resources,” which is defined as “all waters above, upon, or beneath the surface of the earth, located within the state and over which the state has sole or concurrent jurisdiction.”

But state water law also gives the director of Ecology broad discretion to write regulations in the public interest.

Ecology specifically recognizes that rainwater harvesting can be a tool to manage stormwater. See Ecology’s paper on this subject.

In a one-page statement (PDF 124 kb), Manning declared:

“The on-site storage and/or beneficial use of rooftop or guzzler collected rainwater is not subject to the permit process of RCW 90.03.”

Read the rest of the story at Chris’ site, listed above.

Humor -China celebrates becoming the world’s top polluter…

A break from the hard news around us….From the Onion, a great site for a giggle now and then. China is celebrating becoming the top polluter. enjoy…Thanks to the Onion.

China Celebrates Its Status As World’s Number One Air Polluter

Jay Manning of Ecology moves on to become gov’s chief of staff

Well, this brings up an interesting change in Olympia…

From Chris’ blog:

Jay Manning, who has headed the Washington Department of Ecology the past four-plus years, is moving into somewhat uncharted territory as the governor’s chief of staff.

Manning, a native of Manchester in Kitsap County, has always been associated with environmental issues and occasional environmental battles. Now, he will use his organizational and negotiation skills to work alongside Gov. Chris Gregoire.

“Jay Manning brings incredible leadership skills and knowledge of our state to this new position,” Gregoire said in a news release. “He works effectively with citizens all across our state. He has an extraordinary ability to bring people together to forge solutions to difficult problems and seize opportunities for Washington state.”

I reached Jay Manning this afternoon to congratulate him and ask him what the heck he was thinking.

He told me that both the Ecology director post and his new chief of staff position include an “incredible array of issues,” but the new job comes with a broader range of responsibilities. It will require him to become more of a generalist, which is a new challenge for him.

More at Chris’ blog: http://pugetsoundblogs.com/waterways/2009/10/05/jay-manning-moves-on-to-become-govs-chief-of-staff/

Jefferson commissioners favor 150-foot shoreline buffer in new plan

10/2 Peninsula Daily News

Jefferson commissioners favor 150-foot shoreline buffer in new plan

By Jeff Chew
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — After 1,035 public comments, hearings and at least 27 hours of deliberations this week, Jefferson County commissioners finished reviewing a proposed shoreline master program, and said they favor a 150-foot standard marine buffer for new homes, as well as a prohibition on marine aquaculture.

“We went with the 150-foot buffer to start with, that will be adjusted lot by lot, permit by permit, as people can justify it,” county Commissioner David Sullivan, D-Cape George and board chairman, said late Thursday afternoon.

Pink Salmon run large this year

Big pink run by Staff Report

The Skagit River pink salmon run is expected to have 1.2 million fish this year, the offspring of the large pink run of 2007.

Anglers are reporting smaller-than-average pinks this year.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist Brett Barkdull said the fish are coming in at 3.5 pounds on average.

More at

See you at the Wooden Boat Festival!

People For Puget Sound, the Jefferson County Marine Resource Committee and the PT Marine Science Center will all have booths at the Wooden Boat show. Contact me to volunteer at the P4PS booth, or just swing by and show your support by saying hi! Mention the Olympic Peninsula Environmental News and get a special thanks for being a reader!

Volunteers sought for Dungeness crab study

9/1 Peninsula Daily News -Volunteers sought for Dungeness crab study -Peninsula Daily News

HOOD CANAL — Volunteers are needed to help collect Dungeness crab larvae in Hood Canal, Strait of Juan de Fuca and Admiralty Inlet – as well as other parts of Puget Sound and in the San Juan Islands.

The effort is part of a project coordinated by the Suquamish tribe’s shellfish biologist, Paul Williams, and Leif Rasmuson, the Skokomish tribe’s shellfish management biologist.

The focus of the project is the declining Dungeness crab population in Hood Canal.

The amount of crab caught in the area has fallen from 698,000 pounds in 2005 to just 168,000 pounds in 2008.

More at

News on SMP

Coverage of the SMP by the PA press. —more opinion here on the web site by looking to the right hand column and seeing the earlier post.

8/5 Peninsula Daily News -Shoreline program updates OK’d—By Jeff Chew-Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — After months of review and revision, Jefferson County commissioners accepted the county Planning Commission’s proposed recommendations for updating the county Shoreline Master Program.

“We struggled one way or another,” Planning Commission Chairman Peter Downey told the county commissioners Monday before the commissioners set a 6 p.m. Sept. 8 public hearing on the latest draft.

The hearing will be in the Superior Courtroom on the fourth floor of the county courthouse, 1820 Jefferson St., Port Townsend.

Downey added that the planning panel’s volunteer members changed their votes back and forth on difficult and complex issues, including shoreline buffers.

…The Planning Commission reduced the marine shore standard buffer to 50 feet along shoreline residential and high-intensity shoreline growth designations.

More at

Job Posting – Environmental Communications Director – Seattle

If you are looking for a good job and need to go whereever the work is, then this might be a good fit for someone reading this blog. Good folks to work with, great cause. If I lived in Seattle, I’d probably apply myself!

Environmental Priorities Coalition

The Environmental Priorities Coalition is a group of 23 leading nonprofit organizations in Washington state that annually provides the state legislature with a list of four “priority” environmental bills that it believes are critical to the state. Each year the Coalition picks its four priorities – and develops a separate campaign around each one. The groups in the coalition coordinate their work around these campaigns and other emergent legislative issues, employing a range of tactics including lobbying, outreach to allies, grassroots involvement, and media outreach. To date, the coalition has succeeded in moving most of its legislative recommendations forward and having them signed into law. See http://www.environmentalpriorities.org/

The Environmental Priorities Coalition seeks a dynamic, innovative, and strategic Communications Director. This is a leadership position that requires the ability to motivate and support others to ensure the success of Environmental Priorities Coalition and its priority campaigns. This position requires a team player with a positive attitude who will have regular and fast-paced interaction with Coalition member executive directors plus government affairs, field organizing and communication staff. The Communications Director needs to be familiar working with traditional media avenues as well as new and emerging web-based communication and outreach tools.


The Communications Director will be responsible for developing and implementing high-level communications strategies that will strengthen the coalition as a whole and maximize the available capacity for communications within the coalition. The Communications Director will report to the coalition co-chairs (currently Joan Crooks, executive director of Washington Environmental Council; and Gregg Small, executive director of Climate Solutions) and work closely with a communications committee made up of staff from various coalition member organizations.

The Communications Director will develop, coordinate and carry out the Coalition’s communications strategy each legislative session and during non-legislative months. The Communications Director will develop systems to coordinate the Coalition’s communications activities and maximize the available capacity for communications within the Coalition. The Communications Director will be responsible for diversifying and prioritizing the communications tactics and targeting strategies used to promote the four priorities each year, including traditional media avenues as well as written and electronic avenues and new media. The Communications Director will be responsible for measuring the effectiveness of Coalition communications.

Specific duties include:

  • Develop and manage the implementation of communications strategies for the coalition as a whole.
  • Establish and chair a Communications Committee comprised of Coalition member staff.
  • Coordinate development of a Coalition vision statement and presentation materials.
  • Develop clear communications guidelines and protocols for the coalition.
  • Develop and update core talking points for the coalition and train members to use these talking points.
  • Provide high-level strategic communications support to each of the four priority campaigns.
  • Facilitate collaboration and coordination between priority campaign communications staff, field staff and lobbyists for the coalition.
  • Make key capacity and coordination decisions based on written communications plans from each priority campaign.
  • Review materials for the coalition and each priority campaign and provide guidance to ensure that all communication is consistent and coordinated.
  • Provide assistance to the priority campaigns as they work to identify and assess. traditional and new communications tactics that could help them reach their goals
  • Work with the Communications Committee and ONE/Northwest to upgrade the coalition’s website.
  • Act as primary liaison between news media and the Coalition.


  • Bachelor’s degree in communications, journalism, English, public relations or related field.  Masters degree preferred.
  • 5+ years experience creating and implementing comprehensive communications plans with a successful track record.

· Ability to organize, expedite, and manage multiple complex projects simultaneously.

  • Outstanding strategic planning skills.
  • Excellent interpersonal and communications skills.
  • Proven writing and editing skills.
  • Proven ability to work with a wide range of diverse audiences and stakeholders.
  • Skilled in the use of a range of technology tools used to communicate with diverse audiences.
  • Experience working in a non-profit setting preferred. Coalition and campaign work is a plus.
  • An understanding of the state legislative process and an ability to craft messages that resonate with policymakers.


The Communicators Director will work out of offices located in the Vance Building in downtown Seattle.

Competitive non-profit salary, depending on experience and education. Benefits include, health, dental, vacation, transit pass and retirement plan.

By August 31 or until position is filled, please send a cover letter, resume, writing samples, three references, and salary requirements to searchcommittee@environmentalpriorities.org. Please include “Communications Director” in the subject line. Incomplete applications will not be considered. No phone calls please.

The Environmental Priorities Coalition is committed to equal opportunity in employment and promotion for all qualified persons without regard to race, color, age, religion, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, citizenship, military or veteran status, the presence of any sensory, mental or physical disability, pregnancy and childbirth, family responsibilities, or any other basis protected by applicable laws, regulations, or guidelines relating to discrimination in employment.

Coverage of Navy sea turbine generation proposed for Marrowstone

7/16 Peninsula Daily News Public weighs in on Navy’s proposed sea turbine generators By Jeff Chew Peninsula Daily News

CHIMACUM — Sea-turbine blades are on the cutting edge of alternative power-generating technology. At about 16 feet in diameter and weighing more than 4 tons, three undersea turbines mounted on a 40-ton frame are proposed to be sunk off the northern or southern end of Marrowstone Island as part of a U.S. Navy tidal energy kinetic hydropower system test in Admiralty Inlet. The turbines will be anchored with the aid of gravity about 70 feet down in the strong currents off either Marrowstone Point, north, or Nodule Point near the island’s south end.

More at http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20090716/NEWS/307169992

NY Times article on whales

Usually I don’t highlight stories outside our area, but Sunday the NY Times did an article on whales that did a pretty concise job of a layman’s overview to the  issues and concerns that whale researchers are facing. The possibility of human/whale communications is the focus of the story, but it lays out a simple history and overview of such problem areas as sonar being the cause of whale strandings.


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