UW gets NOAA grant to begin testing new forecast for toxic shellfish

Will be reporting on the waters off the Olympic Peninsula.

News and Information

A new NOAA-sponsored University of Washington project brings together academic, federal, state and tribal scientists to develop forecasts for toxic harmful algal blooms in the Pacific Northwest, like the massive bloom that closed Pacific Northwest beaches to shellfish harvesting in summer 2015.

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S. Giddings UCSD

 

A UW-developed model simulates how toxic organisms at the mouth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca (red dots) can travel toward the Washington coast.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in August has awarded a five-year, $1.3 million grant to start working on the forecasts. The new early warning system will transition to operation starting in 2017.

Once up and running, the forecasts will help coastal communities from Neah Bay, Washington, to Newport, Oregon, target their shellfish monitoring and fine-tune decisions about closing beaches to shellfish harvesting to have more advance warning and potentially avoid some beach closures.

“This will be a sort of weather forecast for Pacific Northwest harmful algal blooms,” said Parker MacCready, a UW professor of oceanography and member of the UW Coastal Modeling Group.

Forecasts will be produced by the UW’s LiveOcean model, which creates three-day forecasts for Washington and Oregon coastal waters. The model provides results for open-ocean beaches as well as complex protected waterways — including Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor — that are home to many of the region’s shellfish beds.

Up-to-date monitoring of offshore conditions will be provided by Vera Trainer, a biologist at NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center, and members of the Makah Tribe. Starting this spring, they will collect samples by ship every two weeks in an eddy near the mouth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, which has been identified as a source of toxin-producing algae that can reach local beaches. The team will then analyze water samples within a day at the Makah Tribal lab in Neah Bay.

Read the rest of the story at:

http://www.washington.edu/news/2016/09/29/uw-gets-noaa-grant-to-begin-testing-new-forecast-for-toxic-shellfish/?menu2=http://www.washington.edu/news/category/science/

 

July 2015 was warmest month ever recorded for the globe – NOAA

The data is in from NOAA, and it’s not good.  In addition, January-July 2015 also had record warm temperatures and globally the oceans heated up. From South America, through Africa, the data points to the highest temperatures recorded since record keeping in 1880.

(graphic from NOAA)
These numbers simply belie the fact that moving to clean energy is crucial to having any success in reversing this trend, or mitigating it. The numbers however, don’t show the facts on the ground, where drought, massive and unprecedented wildfires, and ocean destruction are impacting us now, and into the future. There is no time left to push solutions into the future.

Here in Jefferson County, there appears to be no backup plan if we get another winter without snowpack. I have heard nothing from County or City leaders, on what will be done if the water from the rivers is not present. That situation is happening now, and will not likely break until midwinter. Lots of talk about September through November water rationing, but scientists are predicting a very dry winter.

http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/summary-info/global/201507

Toxic algae flourishes in warm water from California to Alaska, closing valuable fisheries – AP

More reasons to demand international work cooperation on climate change. As our fishing and shellfish industry continues to get hammered by the effects of a heating planet, many political leaders continue to stick their heads in the sand and their hands in the pockets of individuals and businesses who are working to stop any progress on this.  While this particular ‘blob’ may eventually dissipate if and when the weather patterns change, the trend is definitively moving towards planetary conditions that could make this a new normal, not an aberration.

A vast bloom of toxic algae off the West Coast is denser, more widespread and deeper than scientists feared even weeks ago, according to surveyors aboard a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research vessel. This coastal ribbon of microscopic algae, up to 40 miles wide and 650 feet deep in places, is flourishing amid unusually warm Pacific Ocean temperatures. It now stretches from at least California to Alaska and has shut down lucrative fisheries. Shellfish managers on Tuesday doubled the area off Washington’s coast that is closed to Dungeness crab fishing, after finding elevated levels of marine toxins in tested crab meat. Phuong Le reports. (Associated Press)

http://registerguard.com/rg/news/33367837-76/toxic-algae-flourishes-in-warm-water-from-california-to-alaska-closing-valuable-fisheries.html.csp

More time to comment on feds’ plan for Puget Sound salmon hatcheries – Skagit Valley Herald

There has been some controversy in the last year over steelhead and the hatcheries. I’ve covered the issue here if you wish to search for background info.

The public will now have until 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 23, to comment on the draft environmental impact statement for Puget Sound hatcheries. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced the public comment period extension Thursday. The agency decided to grant the extension in response to a formal request…. The draft report is available online at http://www.skagit.ws/NOAAsalmon. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

http://www.goskagit.com/all_access/more-time-to-comment-on-feds-plan-for-puget-sound/article_551deb80-70e8-11e4-b050-6737e129fea8.html

Mussels Unlocking Secrets to What’s In the Water – KOMO News

This short story by KOMO on the efforts of various environmental groups to carry out a federally funded program to test waters for pollutants via filter feeders, or mussels. The good news is that high levels of pollutants were not found in more remote areas (like Jefferson County), but that where the high levels were found, we are still seeing problems from PCBs, paint toxins and other chemicals that were banned decades ago.

Port Angeles and Hood Canal have been part of the program, but apparently Hood Canal was not tested in 2008. PA appears to be not polluted enough to worry about.

The one thing to remember is that these filter feeders do collect toxins. If you want to protect yourself while eating filter feeders, always ask where they were harvested.

If you’d like to explore the results of the program nationally, including all the sites in the Salish Sea, go to this web site:

http://stateofthecoast.noaa.gov/musselwatch/welcome.html

This program has been ongoing for 20+ years, so we are able to now see long term trends in the analysis of the data.

KOMO story is here:

http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Mussels-Unlocking-secrets-to-whats-in-the-water-267569071.html

60 Minutes documents BC salmon farming

And the industry does not come off well. While the opening interview with salmon farming manager Ian Roberts paints a ‘normal’ picture of the industry, much to their credit, 60 minutes Dr. Gupta works in Alexandra Morton and her concerns, along with Alaskan wild salmon supporters. When he finally gets around to interviewing a government official, Brian Wallace, he comes off totally inadequate to the task of defending the government’s inaction in the face of real scientific concern.

Based on this, and the rest of the scientific information that we have presented here over the last years, is it any wonder why our county commissioners have fought to create a moratorium on salmon farming in our county until more science is brought to the table on this issue?

Or is it any wonder why we have been so critical of the Washington State Department of Ecology and NOAA in their bureaucratic stance that net pen aquaculture is fine, based on 25 year old science?  The recently resigned Ted Sturdevant, highlighted here just yesterday, was a typical bureaucratic supporter of the industry, and stonewalled county efforts to bring even a moratorium over the last five years.

Watch the 60 Minute segment here:

http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/saving-the-wild-salmon/

Feds weigh protecting orcas off Pacific coast – Komo & San Juan Journal

Setting up for a showdown with the military over protecting the Orca?  

http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Feds-weigh-protecting-orcas-off-Pacific-coast-256578531.html

NOAA Fisheries is weighing whether to protect endangered orcas in the waters off the West Coast. The federal agency said Thursday it would consider a petition by the Center for Biological Diversity seeking to expand the critical habitat for southern resident killer whales. NOAA has already designated inland waters of Washington as critical to orca conservation, but the group’s petition says offshore areas from Cape Flattery, Wash., to Point Reyes, Calif., should now be added as critical habitat. Such a designation would require federal officials to limit activities that harm the whales.

(Associated Press) See also: Fate of orcas? Depends on fish—and lately, both have been scarce http://www.sanjuanjournal.com/news/256441941.html (San Juan Journal)

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