Swinomish Tribe and others sue Army Corp over lack of eelgrass protections

Somehow this lawsuit slipped my review. It came out in late April and adds to the growing group of lawsuits seeking to protect yet another of Puget Sound’s key habitat, eelgrass.  As the suit states: “Native eelgrass beds serve as nurseries, cover,and feeding grounds for threatened Puget Sound Chinook salmon, Dungeness crabs, and other aquatic species.”

You may have seen the “No anchor zones” in Port Townsend Bay that are there to help boaters avoid damaging these fragile underwater forests.

The Swinomish Tribe, along with Earth Justice and others, challenges the Army Corp of Engineers and it’s  Nationwide Permit 48,( NWP 48) which came out last year. NWP48 authorizes large-scale commercial shellfish aquaculture without mandatory avoidance or minimization measures to protect eelgrass.

From the lawsuit filing: The Corps’ first nationwide permit covering shellfish aquaculture issued in 2007 applied only to active commercial shellfish operations which had a state or local permit. As reissued in 2017, NWP 48 reaches beyond active commercial shellfish operations to cover any area that was used for commercial shellfish aquaculture at any time within the last 100 years. This definition extends into “continuing fallow” areas, which are areas that previously had shellfish operations at some time, but not since 2007 when the first NWP 48 was issued. NWP 48 contains measures requiring avoidance of eelgrass beds in “new” operations that have never been cultivated, but makes those mandatory avoidance measures inapplicable to eelgrass beds in continuing fallow areas. In North Puget Sound, thousands of acres of so-called continuing fallow areas have mature eelgrass beds, yet NWP 48’s mandatory avoidance measures are not applicable to these fallow areas.

Throughout the development of NWP 48, the Tribe urged the Corps to adopt
avoidance and minimization measures to protect eelgrass. The Corps considered various avoidance and minimization measures, such as extending the same protection afforded for new shellfish operations to eelgrass in continuing fallow areas or limiting the shellfish aquaculture methods that may be used on eelgrass beds to those that minimize damage to the eelgrass. In the end, however, the Corps adopted NWP 48 without any avoidance and minimization measures to protect eelgrass. It left the development of such protective measures to the discretion of the
Corps’ district engineer when reviewing specific projects to verify whether they comply with NWP 48.

This case challenges the application and implementation of NWP 48 in North
Puget Sound in areas with eelgrass beds for violating three laws and their implementing regulations.

Follow this link to the Corps complaint. It’s 31 pages long.

Swinomish lawsuit against Corps 3522 1 Complaint

Olympic Forest Coalition Files Suit Against Coast Seafoods

It will be interesting to see what comes of this new lawsuit. There have been a number of concerns raised by citizens in the area surrounding Coast, as to changes in the Bay waters. We’ll see if we can get more information on the specifics.

Olympic Forest Coalition, based in Quilcene, Washington, has filed a lawsuitagainst Coast Seafoods Company under Section 505 of the Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. § 1365, for alleged Clean Water Act violations. Located on the shorelines of Quilcene Bay, Coast Seafoods claims to have increased its production of spat (baby oysters) from a capacity of approximately 8 billion annually to 40 billion annually over the past 5 years, which is apparently creating much higher levels of effluent, including “oyster poop,” discharged into the bay. The effluent includes excessive amounts of ammonia nitrogen and other solids that appear to OFCO to create problems for fish, shellfish, and pursuit-diving birds such as marbled murrelets, loons, cormorants, and grebes. OFCO believes that Coast Seafoods filters the incoming water from the bay, but does not filter effluent being flushed back into the bay.

The lawsuit claims that Coast Seafoods uses numerous pipes, ditches, channels and other discernible, confined and discrete conveyances to discharge effluent from its indoor, land-based oyster facilities to the adjacent beach, Quilcene Bay and Puget Sound.

Because the facility uses pipes and ditches to discharge to the bay, conveyances the Clean Water Act clearly and unambiguously defines as “point sources,” the lawsuit alleges that discharges of pollutants from the facility are illegal and in violation of Section 30l(a) of the Clean Water Act because they are not authorized by an NPDES permit. The primary goal of the lawsuit is to reduce water pollution to Quilcene Bay.

Kampmeier & Knutsen, PLLC in Seattle, Washington, represents OFCO in the lawsuit.

Judge dismisses lawsuit against easement that blocks ‘pit-to-pier’ project on Hood Canal – PDN

And so it goes. The Pit to Pier people never seem to give up, and seem to have an inexhaustible amount of money to spend fighting anything that stands in their way. I wonder if this is the end of the line for them though?

A federal court judge has dismissed a lawsuit against the Navy challenging a conservation easement that would block development of a 998-foot pier and gravel-loading project sought by Hood Canal Sand and Gravel. U. S. District Judge Benjamin Settle on Tuesday granted a motion to dismiss, ruling that the Navy did not exceed its authority in granting the 55-year easement on state-owned tidelands along Hood Canal…. The easement is an agreement between the Navy and the state Department of Natural Resources announced in July 2014 that would block development on more than 4,800 acres of state land along Hood Canal, stretching from the Hood Canal Bridge south to just below the border between Jefferson and Mason counties. (Peninsula Daily News)

lhttp://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20150903/NEWS/150909989/judge-dismisses-lawsuit-against-easement-that-blocks-pit-to-pier

Lawsuits Put NW Fish Hatcheries In The Crosshairs – Earthfix

A string of lawsuits around the region highlights a groundswell of opposition to the practice of raising salmon and steelhead in hatcheries to then be released into the wild. Wild fish supporters argue that hatcheries harm wild fish populations and that governmental agencies charged with protecting salmon and steelhead under the Endangered Species Act are in fact violating the Act in some instances by releasing hatchery-raised fish to intermingle with the wild ones. Ashley Ahearn reports.

http://earthfix.kcts9.org/flora-and-fauna/article/northwest-fish-hatcheries-in-the-crosshairs-of-sev/

EPA sued over Washington fish-consumption estimates – Seattle Times and others

A fight over how much fish people eat in Washington — and thus, how much toxic pollution they consume — is now in federal court. Conservation and commercial-fishing groups sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Friday, saying the agency has for too long let state officials underestimate fish consumption, resulting in weaker anti-pollution standards than are needed to protect the public. The groups, including Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, Columbia Riverkeeper and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, reason that if the estimates were more realistic, the state would have to more strictly regulate emissions of mercury, lead, copper and other toxins — a prospect that concerns industry groups and that emerged as a sticking point in budget talks in Olympia last spring. Gene Johnson reports.
http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2022022795_fishconsumptionxml.html

New blog: No, You Shouldn’t Eat The Fish—Not Yet
http://salishseacommunications.blogspot.com/2013/10/no-you-shouldnt-eat-fishnot-yet.html

Salmon- How much we eat matters–King 5

Why does it matter? Read or watch the story at King 5. We also have covered other stories on it  here previously.

by GARY CHITTIM / KING 5 News

SEATTLE — Several environmental groups Tuesday threatened to sue the Environmental Protection Agency for what they called a lack of enforcement on fish consumption rates.

 

http://www.king5.com/news/environment/Salmon-How-much-we-eat-matters-216683881.html

Lawsuit threatened over Puget Sound rockfish – News Tribune

This is long overdue. The declining health of Puget Sound rockfish has been a known situation for decades and our DOE and DFWS have dithered with endless meetings and virtually no real action to protect this fish that rarely leaves it’s neighborhood during it’s lifetime. You fish them out, and they are gone. While the Feds say “it will have little effect” we’ll see whether that’s true, as the designation could be used for other recovery purposes, apparently. The fact that the Feds are 3 years late in getting this done is just another indicator of how broke the whole system seems at times.

The Center for Biological Diversity said Thursday it intends to sue the National Marine Fisheries Service for missing a deadline to designate protected habitat for endangered Puget Sound rockfish.

http://www.thenewstribune.com/2013/07/11/2674247/lawsuit-threatened-over-puget.html

%d bloggers like this: