Legislature approves several Puget Sound priority bills

The fact that what did get put forward in the legislature this year did get passed is good news. Other bills that were important died in committee, some with very little help from even their sponsors (such as the bill allowing the banning of net pens that was sponsored by Representative Kevin Van De Wege and lightly supported by him). However, the rubber will meet the road in Olympia, this week and next, as the budget tries to get through. All these bills’ funding is stalled in the Senate, which, with a small Republican majority, is blocking a final budget. If you are so inclined, call your Representatives and Senator and tell them to get this done.  Kudos to NGO’s such as Washington Environmental Coalition, Puget Soundkeepers, Audubon, and companies such as Taylor Shellfish, who have stepped into a leadership role fighting Ocean Acidification, along with  many others who championed these bills.
Gov. Jay Inslee has signed into law all of the Puget Sound priority bills. Most recently, partners celebrated the signing of bills that prevent derelict vessels (ESHB 1245), prevent aquatic invasive species (SB 5702), strengthen the management of our coastal resources and protect Washington waters from the effects of ocean acidification (SB 5603). Attention remains on the budget, where little progress is visible toward bridging the significant impasse between the House and Senate.

State climate consultant hired to shrink greenhouse gases- News Tribune

It appears that the newly signed bill to get data that can be acted on for ocean acidification is progressing about as fast as the government can move. The question is whether it can be funded. Apparently there has been no agreement by the State House to fund this bill. Shellfish growers are very concerned about the lack of interest in funding it by Republicans, as their industry will be the first to die from acidification.

A legislative workgroup chaired by Gov. Jay Inslee voted unanimously Tuesday to hire a Virginia-based climate consultant to examine Washington state’s options for reducing greenhouse gases that are contributing to global climate change.


Sediment Health in Central Puget Sound Declining Over 10 years

The Department of Ecology (DOE) has just released a report showing that the health of Central Puget Sound sediment is declining over the last 10 years. The life that lives in the sediment, called Benthic invertebrates, have declined dramatically. This goes along with increasing ocean acidification that has been seen in Puget Sound and Hood Canal. These is not good news.

The good news can be seen in that  that lead, mercury and the ingredient in fire retardant has decreased in the sediment.

But the bad news is that “Ecology has observed similar declines in benthic invertebrate health in other regions and bays throughout Puget Sound, including the Strait of Georgia, Hood Canal, Elliott Bay, Commencement Bay, and Bainbridge Basin. Poor sediment health also has been observed in Bellingham Bay, Budd Inlet, the Eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca, and the San Juan Islands.”

We’re hoping that given these results that Ecology won’t wait another 10 years to test.  To be clear, one of the key issues that the Puget Sound Partnership found in their prioritization of issues that has taken them a number of years to collect, is that monitoring has been lacking in key areas. It’s gratifying to see that monitoring appears to be getting done at long last.


Washington State Department of Ecology – June 4, 2013


Sediment health in Central Puget Sound declining

OLYMPIA – Sediments in the bottom of Central Puget Sound show declining environmental health over a 10-year period, according to a just-released report from the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology).

Central Puget Sound is the area south of Whidbey Island to the Tacoma Narrows. It includes industrialized and urbanized Elliott and Commencement bays, Sinclair Inlet and Bainbridge Basin.

“The overall decline in sediment health is important because it is an indicator of the health of Puget Sound,” said Valerie Partridge, Ecology’s lead author for the report.


The report, “Sediment Quality in Central Puget Sound, Changes Over a Ten-Year Period,” compared sediment samples the state program collected in 2008 and 2009 to samples it collected in 1998 and 1999.


The comparison found the decline in health of sediment-dwelling life – known as benthic invertebrates – had spread to 28 percent of the region, up from 7 percent.


Benthic invertebrates are a key part of the marine food web.

The decline could not be attributed to any significant chemical contamination that Ecology measured. The major driving factor contributing to the decline in sediment health was the change in the number and types of benthic invertebrates, including a shift to more pollution-tolerant species.


Ecology also found an increase in low-level toxicity in the sediments over a wider area compared with previous testing in Central Puget Sound.

The study also turned up good news. Central Sound sediments showed a decrease in concentrations of lead, mercury, silver, tin and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. It also found that more samples are meeting state sediment quality standards in the heavily industrialized areas of Elliott and Commencement bays. These trends suggest positive results from collective cleanups and pollution prevention efforts in those areas.

Ecology scientists are not sure why the negative changes are taking place.


Maggie Dutch, lead scientist for Ecology’s Puget Sound Sediment Monitoring Program said: “The sediment monitoring program was established to measure levels of toxic chemicals throughout Puget Sound, and to determine their effects on benthic invertebrate communities. While we have seen improvements in the condition of these communities in urban areas that have undergone cleanup of toxics, we are also seeing unexpected declines in community condition where toxic chemicals we measure were not detected.Other human and natural factors in Puget Sound could be a cause.”

Dutch said some of the factors that may influence the health of the organisms in the sediments include:

  • Changes in food resources that sink through the water and reach the bottom sediments.
  • Changes in dissolved oxygen, pH, and levels of ammonia and sulfides in the water above and within the sediments.
  • Natural population cycles of sediment-dwelling organisms that may be influenced by oceanic cycles.
  • Sediment movement and burial.
  • Unmeasured contaminants, including contaminants of emerging concern, contaminant mixtures, and contaminants that may sicken but not kill marine life.

Dutch said, “While we did not measure these other factors, we will link our data to other projects that may have this information to help us map out causes.”


The state’s regional sediment monitoring is part of the Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program (PSEMP). The program is a collaboration of state, federal, tribal, local government, non-governmental, watershed, business, private and volunteer groups dedicated to monitoring the environmental conditions of Puget Sound.


Ken Dzinbal, PSEMP lead for the Puget Sound Partnership, said: “Marine monitoring is important because you can’t fix what you don’t measure. Monitoring tells us if Puget Sound is getting better or if it’s getting worse.”

“We are seeing trends. We have ideas about the causes of problems. Our monitoring helps tell us if we are testing the right things and helps us identify solutions to pollution problems,” Dzinbal said.


Scientists have developed several ecological indicators to track the health of the Puget Sound ecosystem and how it changes over time. Ecology’s sediment science has been adopted by the Puget Sound Partnership as Vital Signs Dashboard Indicators.

While the Central Sound findings are for the region as a whole, Ecology’s marine monitoring program has separate surveys and separate reports for Elliott Bay, Commencement Bay and the Bainbridge Basin (including Sinclair Inlet). The stories of the bays are different from the story of the region as a whole.


Ecology has observed similar declines in benthic invertebrate health in other regions and bays throughout Puget Sound, including the Strait of Georgia, Hood Canal, Elliott Bay, Commencement Bay, and Bainbridge Basin. Poor sediment health also has been observed in Bellingham Bay, Budd Inlet, the Eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca, and the San Juan Islands.

Ecology is conducting follow-up sediment sampling in Elliott Bay. Sediment monitoring of urban bays is part of Ecology’s Urban Waters Initiative, which began in 2007.


Ecology’s data and documentation can be found on Ecology’s marine sediment monitoring website.


Media contact

Sandy Howard, Ecology media relations, 360-407-6408 (desk); 360-791-3177 (cell); Sandy.Howard@ecy.wa.gov

For more information:


Marine sediment monitoring photos on Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/ecologywa/sets/72157633790434413/)

Department of Ecology’s Environmental Assessment Program (http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/eap/index.html)

Puget Sound Partnership as Vital Signs Dashboard Indicators (http://www.psp.wa.gov/vitalsigns/)

Ecology’s social media (www.ecy.wa.gov/about/newmedia.html)

Copyright © Washington State Department of Ecology. See http://www.ecy.wa.gov/copyright.html.


Why UW scientists are speeding up ocean acidification – KUOW

A team of scientists in Friday Harbor is providing a window into the future of the ocean. Martha Baskin reports.

Shipping Emissions ‘Rival CO2-Driven Ocean Acidification’- EEM News

The findings of issues with shipping pollution are sort of an expected outcome. The good news is that things are already changing for the better with new regs due to take affect soon.


Panel: Ocean acidification threatening sea life here – PDN

Acidification of the world’s oceans could have a profound effect on the North Olympic Peninsula, a panel of experts told Clallam County commissioners Monday. Caused by carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels, ocean acidification can destroy shells of crabs, clams, oysters and scores of creatures at the bottom of the food chain. The Strait of Juan de Fuca, Puget Sound and outer coast of Washington are particularly vulnerable because acidic water is upwelled off the coast every spring and summer.

Rob Ollikainen reports. Panel: Ocean acidification threatening sea life here at the PDN.


Monday April 15- Ocean Acidification Forum

Clallam MRC will sponsor a community forum on Ocean Acidification (OA) April 15 from 6-8 pm at the Port Angeles Senior Center, 328 7th Street in Port Angeles. Members of Washington State’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification will highlight effects of and local solutions to an acidifying ocean.

Ocean acidification can have a profound effect on the state economy and quality of life: effects of OA were apparent to shellfish growers between 2007 and 2009, when oyster larvae succumbed to the more corrosive water. Details may be found in the press release.

PORT ANGELES — Ocean acidification, its effects and local solutions will be
highlighted at a community forum featuring speakers from the Washington State Blue
Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification. North Olympic Peninsula residents and others are
invited to attend the community forum, April 15 from 6:00 – 8:00 pm at the Port Angeles
Senior Center, 328 East 7th Street, Port Angeles. Clallam County Commissioner Mike
Doherty will welcome the panel and attendees.

Between 2007 and 2009, up to 80 percent of the oyster larvae in some Washington
state hatcheries were killed by ocean acidification. As the nation’s leading supplier of
farmed shellfish, and with 42,000 jobs dependent on seafood, Washington has much to
lose from the effects of an acidifying ocean.

Ocean Acidification, also known as OA, results primarily from CO2 emissions being
absorbed from the atmosphere into seawater. The new mixture forms carbonic acid,
which alters ocean chemistry, reduces the chemical building blocks needed by many
marine species and endangers sea life.

The community forum, hosted by the Clallam County Marine Resources Committee
(MRC), will feature three speakers. Eric Swenson, Communications and Outreach
Director for the Global Ocean Health Program, will explain “The Science of Ocean
Acidification;” Betsy Peabody, founder of the Puget Sound Restoration Fund, will
describe “Local Impacts, Local Solutions” and Brad Warren, Director for the Global
Ocean Health Program, will summarize the panel’s work and present
“Recommendations, Partnerships and Actions.” Peabody and Warren served as
members of Washington State Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification. Swenson was
an alternate member.

Clallam County MRC member Ed Bowlby, who also coordinates research for the
Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary said, “We have to build consensus to reduce
the global emissions of CO2. When possible, we also need to act locally to mitigate,
remediate, or adapt to acidification. We can start by minimizing land-based contributions
within the watershed. Stormwater runoff, for instance, can contribute to ocean
acidification at the local scale.”

To address the threat of increasingly corrosive marine waters, former Governor
Christine Gregoire appointed the 28-member Panel on Ocean Acidification in February
2012. Co-chaired by Bill Ruckelshaus, the first administrator of the Environmental
Protection Agency, and Jay Manning, former director of the Washington Department of
Ecology, the panel presented its findings and 42 recommendations November 27 in
Seattle. (Learn more at http://www.ecy.wa.gov/water/marine/oceanacidification.html.)
In addition to the Clallam County MRC, the event is sponsored by the Northwest Straits
Commission, Puget Sound Partnership, Puget Sound Restoration Fund, National
Fisheries Conservation Center and Sustainable Fisheries Partnership.

Ocean Acidification Panel Discussion at NW Straits Annual Meeting

A panel discussion on ocean acidification kicked off the 2012 NorthWest Straits Annual MRC conference on Friday. Speakers Brad Warren of the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, Bill Dewey of Taylor Shellfish, Representative Norma Smith of the 10th District, and Jeff Watters of the Ocean Conservancy all discussed their points of view on ocean acidification. We are both cursed and blessed by being on the forefront of this issue, and these are people doing a lot of research and investigation into the problems it poses for us. Download or listen on line. The final 5th broadcast has some problems in not having a mic for the first two questions, and not restating them, but I think you’ll figure out the questions from the answers.

UPDATE: I’ve had some folks mention that the sound levels even at maximum, are too low. While it appears to be happening mainly on Macintosh computers, I’ll be updating these with slightly higher volumes in the next day or so.

2012 NW Straits Brad Warren on Ocean Acidification 1 of 5

2012 NW Straits Annnual Meeting – Bill Dewey on Ocean Acidification 2 of 5

2012 Nw Straits- Representative Norma Smith on Ocean Acidification – 3 of 5

2012 NW Straits Jeff Waters – 4 of 5

2012 NW Straits Annual Meeting Part 5 of 5 – Ocean Acidification Panel Q&A

This content first appeared on the Olympic Peninsula Environmental News.

Ocean Acidification issues documented by scientists

One way to measure the urgency of the scientific response to ocean acidification is by its carbon footprint. In 2004, 125 marine scientists gathered in a single room in Paris to ponder the effects that surging loads of human-generated carbon dioxide into the atmosphere might have on the sea below. They heard 24 research presentations, nearly the sum total of papers published on the subject worldwide that year. Four years later, 227 researchers gathered in Monaco for the second installment, with 44 presentations. Two weeks ago, 542 racked up the air miles to get to Monterey, California for the Third International Symposium on the Ocean in a High-CO2 World. Eric Scigliano reports. 

Science faces the fate of the sea http://crosscut.com/2012/10/09/environment/110889/science-faces-fate-sea/ 

At home: Ocean use planning, acidification subjects of Oct. 10 public meeting http://www.ecy.wa.gov/news/2012/336.html

Tatoosh Island used as research lab into ocean acidification

NY Times article today about the research being done at Tatoosh on the affects of ocean acidification and global warming on our sea life. Not good news here folks.


Washington Shellfish At Risk–Crosscut

Last Friday, a State panel met to  come up with  a range of recommendations to the Governor about Ocean Acidification. Here’s the report on their meeting, brought to us by Crosscut. They currently need support, so if you like what you read, think of donating something, anything.

John Stang reports.


Pacific Ocean acid levels jeopardizing marine life–CBC

Interviews with researchers presented on the Canadian Broadcasting Channel highlights that the ocean is growing acidic faster than anyone thought.  No new science is actually presented, but the existing science is highlighted for a lay audience.


Blue Ribbon panel warns about dangers of ocean acidification–KPLU

Carbon emissions are threatening Washington’s shellfish industry. That’s the concern of the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification, which meets today in Seattle.

It was created after shellfish hatcheries noticed a correlation between declining PH values in Hood Canal and dying oyster larvae.

Carbon pollution, absorbed by the ocean, interferes with their ability to form shells.

Bill Dewey, with Taylor shellfish farms, says it’s been seven years now since Willapa Bay oysters have hatched naturally.

Listen to the whole story at:


Superb video on local ocean acidification

Check out this 9 minute video from Oregon Public Broadcasting on the effects of ocean acidification on shellfish and animals at Tatoosh and the Oregon coast. A very good narrative of what’s happening to us right in our backyard of Tatoosh, and Hood Canal for that matter.


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