Populated Puget Sound sees stark shifts in marine fish species – Phys. Org

Those of us who have been working on protecting and restoring Puget Sound and the greater Salish Sea, have known for years that human population growth is the biggest root cause of the decline in the waters. More science now arrives to point to that as well. It’s the underlying concern that we are not going to rehabilitate our waters to the levels we expect, without some pretty profound changes in land use, and our incessant demand to pour all our waste waters into the Sound as our toilet. And don’t get me started on Canadian lack of interest in protecting their waters. They are going backwards far faster than we are going forward on this issue.

The most populated areas of Puget Sound have experienced striking shifts in marine species, with declines in herring and smelt that have long provided food for other marine life and big increases in the catch of jellyfish, which contribute far less to the food chain, according to new research that tracks species over the last 40 years. The parallel trends of rising human population and declining forage fish such as herring and smelt indicate that human influences such as pollution and development may be eroding species that long dominated Puget Sound. In particular, the rise of jellyfish blooms may divert energy away from highly-productive forage species that provide food for larger fish and predators such as salmon, seabirds and marine mammals. The research by scientists from NOAA Fisheries’ Northwest Fisheries Science Center, the University of Washington and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife was published in April in Marine Ecology Progress Series. (Phys.Org)

http://phys.org/news/2015-05-populated-puget-stark-shifts-marine.html

Once-common marine birds disappearing from our coast – Seattle Times

For many years I’ve been commenting to friends that I felt I’ve seen a substantial drop in shorebirds around Port Townsend, and on the coast in general. It appears I unfortunately may be correct.

“Scoters down 75% from the 1970’s. Murres have dropped even more. Western Grebes have mostly vanished…”

Craig Welch reports for the Seattle Times.

http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2024155783_birddeclinesxml.html

Report from the Front: Herring Country Safari – UW Blogs

Herring Country Safari

Puget Sound Institute lead ecosystem ecologist Tessa Francis writes: “Hood Canal never disappoints me. We’re in year 2 of our herring habitat study, asking whether Puget Sound herring populations are limited by the availability of spawning habitat…. Substrate type doesn’t matter. What does matter, we found, is where that substrate occurs. We found greater differences in egg mortality among spawning sites — Elliott Bay versus, say, Hood Canal — than among spawning habitat within sites. This year, we’re looking closely at why herring egg survival varies among spawning sites….”

It all goes to show that more research into the Salish Sea is needed to better understand the processes and root causes of their success or failures.

http://blogs.uw.edu/tessa/2014/03/15/herring-country-safari/

Canada- DFO ‘fudging the numbers,’ court finds; bars commercial fishery off Vancouver Island – Globe & Mail

If you were thinking of getting your fishing boat together to get up and take part in the herring fisheries off Vancouver Island, think again. The Canadian Federal Government continues it’s amazing lack of even rudimentary fact finding on whether to allow commercial fishing. It looks like the First Nations and the courts are standing up to these people. None too soon. Is the tide finally starting to turn?  Allowing Canada to wipe out their herring stocks does not help our fishing fleets either. As we all know, salmon live on the herring and we catch their fish, just like they catch ours.

An unprecedented court injunction has barred the Department of Fisheries and Oceans from opening a commercial fishery off Vancouver Island after a judge concluded DFO was “fudging the numbers” and that the federal minister declared it open against her own bureaucrats’ advice. The Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations, whose herring-roe fishery has been closed since 2006, went to court last month seeking the injunction. The ruling has prompted the Haida First Nation to threaten similar court action. And the central coast First Nations say they’ll do whatever it takes to protect their fisheries. The First Nations say the fisheries should not be opened because they have not recovered enough to allow harvesting safely. In the Nuu-chah-nulth case, court documents showed that DFO experts agreed that all three areas should remain closed, but federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea chose to open the fisheries anyway. Zoe Tennant reports. (Globe and Mail)

 http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/dfo-fudging-the-numbers-court-finds-bars-commercial-fishery-off-vancouver-island/article17391117/

Judge overrules minister’s decision to open herring fishery – Vancouver Sun

B.C.’s First Nations declare victory over Department of Fisheries in fight to conserve fish.

B.C. First Nations won a major victory Friday when a Federal Court judge granted an injunction blocking the opening this year of a herring fishery on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

The decision came after an internal memo revealed Fisheries Minister Gail Shea overruled recommendations of scientists in her own department.

Read the whole story at the Vancouver Sun

http://www.vancouversun.com/technology/Judge+overrules+minister+decision+open+herring+fishery/9541803/story.html

Disease killing Pacific herring threatens salmon, scientist warns – Globe and Mail

Independent fisheries scientist Alexandra Morton is raising concerns about a disease she says is spreading through Pacific herring causing fish to hemorrhage. Ms. Morton has called on the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans to investigate, saying it could cause large-scale herring kills and infect wild salmon, which feed heavily on herring…. Ms. Morton, a researcher and environmental advocate who campaigns against fish farms, said she caught some herring with similar symptoms in beach seine nets in 2011, but was unable to get DFO to investigate.
Mark Hume reports.
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/disease-killing-pacific-herring-threatens-salmon-scientist-warns/article13722113/

A New Phenomenon: Diving for Spawning Herring in Elliot Bay – Greenacre Radio

Once one of the most abundant fishes in coastal waters, many populations of Pacific herring, a cornerstone of the marine food web, have been on a downward spiral. A new population spawning in Elliot Bay may show the tide is turning. Marine ecologists are diving into near shore waters to determine their genetic identity. It’s not yet clear if the population will take up permanent residence. Martha Baskin reports.

http://greenacreradio.blogspot.com/2013/05/may-24-2013-new-phenomenon-diving-for.html

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