Trudeau victory means uncertain future for pipeline projects – CBC

The first of many good news articles for the north coast of British Columbia, but with concerns still alive about tanker traffic increases in the Straits and Salish Sea, especially around the San Juans. This battle is not over yet, but at least a favorable government to ending it is now coming to power.

The Liberal victory in yesterday’s federal election appears to be the nail in the coffin for one West Coast pipeline project, but the future of another remains unclear. Incoming-prime minister Justin Trudeau is on record saying he would kill the Northern Gateway Pipeline proposal, which would carry crude oil from the Alberta oilsands to a tanker terminal on the North Coast of B.C. near Prince Rupert…. That leaves the proposed expansion of the existing Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline, which runs from Alberta to Port Metro Vancouver on the South Coast of B.C. While Trudeau has promised to formalize the non-binding moratorium on crude oil tanker traffic on B.C.’s North Coast passed by MP’s in 2010 — that ban applies specifically to the North Coast. And that leaves leave the door open for Kinder Morgan, which is seeking approval from the NEB to twin the 50-year-old pipeline, tripling its capacity, and increasing the tanker traffic in Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet on the South Coast. Mike Laanela reports. (CBC)

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/trudeau-pipelines-northern-gateway-kinder-morgan-1.3280444

Known fish species living in the Salish Sea increases in new report – UW Today

6C-Jordania-zonope-black-750x299

An illustration of the longfin sculpin (Jordania zonope).Joseph R. Tomelleri

Good news that a more precise count on species has been completed. Will be good for future monitoring efforts.

Coho salmon, Pacific halibut and even the dogfish shark are familiar faces to many people in the Salish Sea region. But what about the Pacific viperfish, northern flashlightfish, dwarf wrymouth or the longsnout prickleback?

These colorfully named species and others are compiled in a new, 106-page report that documents all of the fishes that live in the Salish Sea, a roughly 6,500-square-mile region that encompasses Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the Strait of Georgia, the San Juan Islands and the Canadian Gulf Islands.

In total, 253 fish species have been recorded in the Salish Sea, and that’s about 14 percent more than in the last count, said Ted Pietsch, co-author of the new report and a University of Washington emeritus professor of aquatic and fishery sciences.

Read the whole story here:

http://www.washington.edu/news/2015/09/30/known-fish-species-living-in-the-salish-sea-increases-in-new-report/

New hydrophones monitor ship noise in Salish Sea – Canadian Press

More good research. Monitoring at all levels is the most critical element in securing future funding for environmental projects, and validating ones that have been done. It has been the neglected part of all funding over the decades, and glad to see another good outpost established.

Researchers have installed another underwater listening station in British Columbia’s Salish Sea to better understand how shipping noise impacts at-risk whales. The installation Monday was part of a program run by Port Metro Vancouver, the University of Victoria’s Ocean Networks Canada and the hydrophone’s manufacturer. Underwater noise has been identified as a threat to orcas that make their home in the waters between Vancouver Island and the mainland and are listed as at risk by Fisheries and Oceans Canada.(Canadian Press)

http://globalnews.ca/news/2222637/new-hydrophones-monitor-ship-noise-in-salish-sea/

Foundation removes 5,667 lost fishing nets from Puget Sound – AP, KOMO, and others

nwstraits derelict

The boats used to haul up the derelict nets deliver the speakers to the celebration. Some of faces of the celebration.

Thursday in Everett, the Northwest Straits Initiative celebrated the culmination of it’s shallow water derelict net removal project. It’s been a great project and they hope to eventually get funding to go after the deep water nets next. But the numbers below are really impressive. The takeaways from today’s celebration was how politicians of both sides of the aisle actually came together to fund this project. Furthermore, both Republicans and Democrats who spoke, including Senator Patty Murray, hailed the fact that this is an environmental project that actually accomplished what it set out to do. The Northwest Straits fund our local Marine Resources Committee, which has established the eel grass protection zones in Port Townsend Bay, and helped implement and monitor shellfish protection zones in Mystery Bay and Lower Hadlock.

The Northwest Straits Initiative identified the problem of lost and abandoned (derelict) fishing gear in Puget Sound in 2001 and began removing this gear in 2002. Through the years, the program (now managed by the Northwest Straits Foundation) has combined aggressive removal operations with research and prevention outreach to combat this problem on all fronts. The simple goal is to eliminate harm from derelict fishing gear in Puget Sound. Over the course of 13 years, the program has evolved into a national model of how to effectively address this problem.

June 30, 2015 marked the culmination of the removal of shallow (to 105’) water legacy derelict nets in Puget Sound. 5,667 nets have been removed, recovering 812 acres of marine habitat and protecting from entanglement thousands of animals every year. This represents 94% of the estimated 6,000 nets lost over decades. This marks a major milestone in the recovery of Puget Sound.

The removed nets contained over 450,000 entangled animals representing over 260 unique species, including 65 mammals, 1,092 birds, and 5,659 fish. Animals caught and killed in the gear include porpoises, seals, otters, diving birds like pigeon guillemots and cormorants, sharks, salmon, crabs, and octopus. Removing 5,667 nets has protected more than 1,700 mammals, 28,000 birds, 110,000 fish, and over 4.4 million marine organisms in total, from entanglement in derelict gear annually. More information about this effort can be found at www.derelictgear.org. Because of this net removal work, porpoises, diving birds, and fish can now swim and dive in Puget Sound without the risk of being entangled in derelict fishing nets. They now have free access to over 800 acres of marine habitat formally covered by dangerous derelict fishing nets.

In Puget Sound, derelict fishing nets were identified as a stressor on ESA listed marbled murrelets, salmon, and rockfish. Culmination of this work marks the successful completion of Near Term Action B3.2.1 in the 2014 Puget Sound Action Agenda, the comprehensive plan designed to clean up Puget Sound by 2020.

This work was supported by literally dozens of organizations and thousands of individuals over the years. Its final funding was supported by a bipartisan team of state legislators working across the aisle to solve this seemingly daunting problem.

The Northwest Straits Foundation is now working in collaboration with the fishing industry and fisheries co-managers to ensure that newly lost nets do not become. It is also developing methods to remove derelict fishing nets from deeper water and addressing the problem of derelict shellfish pots.

The Northwest Straits Foundation is the non-profit partner of the Northwest Straits Initiative, a collaborative model for marine conservation with a vision of diverse communities working together to restore a thriving marine ecosystem in the Northwest Straits of the Salish Sea. The Foundation works in partnership with the Northwest Straits Commission and seven local Marine Resources Committees (MRCs) of the Northwest Straits whose members represent the diverse stakeholders of their communities, and who identify and implement local marine conservation and restoration projects in their communities. Northwest Straits Foundation works with the MRCS to develop projects and attain funding support, as well as implement regional restoration and education programs, including its internationally-recognized Derelict Gear Removal Program. See www.nwstraitsfoundation.orgfor more information.

KOMO short piece on NW Straits Initiative ending it’s successful Derelict

This week the organization is celebrating the removal of 5,667 such nets, a feat it calls a “major milestone in the recovery of Puget Sound,” according to a news release. The foundation has removed 94 percent of about 6,000 nets reported as lost in Puget Sound.

Mhttp://www.komonews.com/news/local/Foundation-removes-5667-lost-fishing-nets-from-Puget-Sound-321765361.html

Lost nets, crab pots pulled from Puget Sound waters http://www.bellinghamherald.com/news/local/article31054404.html
Divers pulled more than 5,660 derelict fishing nets from Puget Sound’s shallow water — within 105 feet of the surface — as part of the work to remove lost and abandoned gear that had snared and indiscriminately killed marine life, sometimes for decades. Bellingham-based Northwest Straits Foundation led the project. It started in 2002 and ended June 30 this year. About 3,800 crab pots also were removed. Kie Relyea reports. (Bellingham Herald) See also: Long-running effort to remove deadly ghost nets reaches major milestonehttp://pugetsoundblogs.com/waterways/2015/08/13/long-running-effort-to-remove-deadly-ghost-nets-reaches-major-milestone/Christopher Dunagan reports. (Watching Our Water Ways)

Heat and Drought. Is This The New Northwest? – Salish Sea Communications

Good read from Mike Sato.
“Some summer: Consecutive days of record high temperatures, little rain and low river runoff, rising water temperatures in rivers and Puget Sound… You staying or planning to leave?…. ”

http://salishseacommunications.blogspot.com/2015/08/heat-and-drought-is-this-new-northwest.html

Video: A dangerously hot Puget Sound – Seattle PI

Worth a look.

So what will a hot world look like, especially here in the Puget Sound region? Well, check out this video built around a news conference put on by Washington’s Department of Ecology July 30 in Seattle for your answer. Jake Ellison reports. (SeattlePI.Com)

http://blog.seattlepi.com/bigscience/2015/08/05/video-a-dangerously-hot-puget-sound/#34453101=0

See also: Jellyfish boom prompts research by plane and boat http://www.king5.com/story/tech/science/environment/2015/08/05/jellyfish-ecology-noaa-puget-sound/31194035/ Biologists with NOAA and the Department of Ecology are teaming up by plane and boat to track a jellyfish boom in Puget Sound. Alison Morrow reports. (KING)

Stormwater runoff is killing Puget Sound – The Herald of Everett

More on the unfolding challenge of stopping our flow of stormwater, created from the vast amount of paved surfaces in the region. Sharon Salyer reports. (The Herald of Everett)

 http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20141221/NEWS01/141229836

Ten years after ESA listing, killer whale numbers falling – Seattle Times

The Times covers the decline in the Orca population. Is the tipping point near for no chance of recovery?  Craig Welch reports. (Seattle Times)

http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2025279547_killerwhalesxml.html

EVENT: Beneath the Salish Sea – Movie & Lecture at PTMSC – SUNDAY 3PM

I’ve seen Florian’s movies and you really owe it to yourself to come see this amazing underwater footage of the world just outside our door here in Port Townsend. Don’t miss this one, and bring your kids.
——————————————
“The Future of Oceans” Monthly Lecture Continues in December!

Join us on Sunday, December 7th, at 3pm at the Fort Worden Chapel for the third installment of our new “The Future of Oceans” lecture series:

“Beneath the Salish Sea”
Florian Graner
Sealife Productions

The Port Townsend Marine Science Center is excited to have underwater videographer Florian Granar. Granar will be showing sequences from Beneath the Salish Sea as well as footage from recent projects here and in Europe.

Florian Granar holds a Ph.D. Marine Biology with specialization in marine mammals and works full-time as a freelance marine cinematographer. Being a qualified marine biologist, he brings professionalism and extensive subject knowledge to his films.

Granar’s cinematography assignments have taken him around the planet. He has worked on many film assignments for the BBC including PACIFIC ABYSS, AMAZON ABYSS and THE BLUE PLANET; the UK documentary company Icon Films; the German television company NDR Naturfilm. He is currently completing a presentation for National Geographic Channel.

Florian grew up diving in Germany, and became a certified research diver with the Biological Institution Helgoland (B.A.H.). He has since lived (and dived) in Norway, along spectacular Sognefjord, Norway’s longest and deepest fjord; and in the US, in quaint Pacific Grove, on California’s scenic Monterey peninsula. Florian and his family now live on Whidbey Island, where he dives and films in the waters of the Salish Sea.

His production company, Sea-life Productions, films and produces wildlife documentaries. Florian is constantly pushing forward the boundaries, in terms of diving methods and camera technology, to bring unique images back to the surface. He hopes that this provides a resource for promoting the conservation of a truly global domain…the oceans.

Visit him at http://www.sealife-productions.com, and for a trailer showing his work for a German film on the North Sea, view the video below.

All remaining lectures will be held at 3pm at the Fort Worden Chapel on the first Sunday of every month (except January), with a $10 admission ($5 PTMSC members).

Thank you to the Darrow family for their generous support of this lecture series!

Feds to protect Puget Sound habitat for rockfish – Various sources

A small ray of good news shines through the bad this morning, as National Marine Fisheries has required that federal agencies take rockfish protection into their future planning, meaning that fishing, and other activities related to the species will need greater scrutiny before being allowed. This affects us here in Jefferson County, because our near shore activities, such as rule making with the Shoreline Master Program, includes protecting kelp beds and other shores where the fish might live and breed. Our local Marine Resources Committees are also gearing up to do kelp bed monitoring (there is a significant one off North Beach and the area around the lighthouse at Admiralty Inlet) over the next year. If you are wondering where the kelp beds might be, check out our new tool, SoundIQ that lists near shore areas. A link to it can be found at the front left side of this blog.

The National Marine Fisheries Service is set to designate about 1,000 square miles in Puget Sound as critical habitat for three species of imperiled rockfish. The habitat protection follows a 2010 decision to list yelloweye, canary and bocaccio rockfish under the Endangered Species Act. The agency says the rockfish are vulnerable to overfishing because they have long lives and mature slowly with sporadic reproduction. The designation will require federal agencies to make sure their actions don’t harm rockfish habitat. The rule is scheduled to be published on Thursday. The protected area will cover about 340 fewer square miles that originally proposed, excluding some tribal lands and military areas. (Associated Press)

This is one of the many press releases that were picked up by dozens of news outlets last night.

 http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2014/rockfish-11-12-2014.html

The entire document can be found at the link below. For those of you actively engaged in monitoring activities of kelp beds and also fisheries, this is worth reading or at least skimming. The science and the way that they made their decisions is found in the document.

Click to access rockfish_critical_habitat_2014.pdf

I want to thank Norm Baker of Sequim, who has worked tirelessly on this issue for years. He has been a key local contact for many of the bureaucrats in our state. He knows probably more than anyone around on the issue, and the benefits of this particular announcement.

Head of State Ecology Answers Prof. Cliff Mass on Ocean Acidification

As reported here in the last few weeks, UW Meteorologist Cliff Mass posted in his blog that recent court filings by the US EPA and State Department of Ecology were evidence that neither really thought that Ocean Acidification was a scientifically proven threat to the Salish Sea and our seafood industries. My criticism here on this blog was then used by him as a place to accuse me of personally attacking him for his views. (see comments in previous articles last week). This week, State Department of Ecology Director Maia Bellon stepped into the fray, publishing a scathing blog entry directly addressing his comments. I quote:

Department of Ecology take threats from ocean acidification very seriously. This is not a surprise to many, given our policy and science leadership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to understand and address ocean acidification. But local meteorologist Cliff Mass’s September 7 blog is causing some people to question just what our position is, and whether ocean acidification is real.

Let’s be clear. Ocean acidification is real. Determining the causes, impacts, and identifying potential solutions are high priorities for our agency and our state…

….Cliff Mass quoted a few sentences from legal documents that misled several blog readers to believe that Ecology and EPA have determined that acidification is not damaging oysters in Puget Sound or other local waters. He misinterpreted documents filed under litigation by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

http://coenv.washington.edu/research/major-initiatives/ocean-acidification/oa-in-washingtons-waters-in-the-context-of-marine-water-quality/.

It is gratifying to say the least to see our top bureaucrat in charge of addressing this issue come forward and clearly lay out the issue to any reader in the State. Professor Mass has not yet chosen to respond to this blog post by Ms. Bellon.

Those of us who are involved in educating the public to serious (and sometimes difficult to comprehend) issues like ocean acidification are grateful to Ms. Bellon for stepping up and using her bully pulpit to call out the serious and urgent need for continued scientific work to figure out a solution to this issue, if a solution does in fact exist. There is far too much at stake to sit back and allow critics to derail these efforts without  answering them. It’s what true leadership is all about.

Shellfish Tell Puget Sound’s Polluted Tale – Earthfix

It’s always been a question mark in my mind, about how much of the bad stuff in the Sound are we eating with our delicious meals of shellfish. Now we know. And it’s a good word of caution that if you are regularly eating shellfish, that buying them from growers who are away from urban environments, or harvesting them yourself in remote places, is the best rule of thumb. And it also gives us a very easy way  to measure the recovery efforts at work. The bad news is that PCBs, long banned, continue to be found in the water, as do flame retardants. Both are cancer causing. It points out that storm water runoff and our crazy notion that we can pour our sewage into our Sound, have consequences for us.

Scientists used shellfish to conduct the broadest study to date of pollution levels along the shore of Puget Sound. And in some places, it’s pretty contaminated. This past winter the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife put mussels at more than 100 sites up and down Puget Sound. After a few months, volunteers and WDFW employees gathered the shellfish and analyzed them for metals, fossil fuel pollution, flame-retardants and other chemicals. The WDFW just released the results. [http://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/01643/] Ashley Ahearn reports. (EarthFix)

http://earthfix.kcts9.org/water/article/shellfish-tell-puget-sounds-polluted-tale/

Citizen Scientists Asked To Help Search For #SickStarfish – Earthfix

This new crisis to our marine environment is spreading, and here’s a way you can help track it. From reports I’ve read, the root cause may be revealed in the next month. Scientists say they feel they are close to uncovering it. I’ll report on those findings as soon as I see them.

With thousands of miles of coastline in North America, scientists can’t be everywhere at once to keep an eye out for sick and dying starfish…. Puget Sound diver Laura James has built a new tool to make it easy for citizen scientists to help…. James and her dive buddy Lamont Granquist created a sick starfish website for tracking posts to social media sites like Twitter and Instagram. If divers, tidepoolers or beachcombers snap photos of starfish and add the hashtag #sickstarfish, their reports will automatically upload to the map. Katie Campbell reports.

http://earthfix.info/water/article/calling-all-citizen-scientists-in-search-for-sicks/

See also: Sea star wasting syndrome found in seven specimens in Freshwater Bay http://peninsuladailynews.com/article/20140131/news/301319969/sea-star-wasting-syndrome-found-in-seven-specimens-in-freshwater-bay

Report from the Front: Dan Tonnes on Rockfish Recovery & Critical Habitat in Puget Sound

From the 2013 NW Straits Annual Meeting. Dan Tonnes has worked for NOAA as a biologist since 1999, where he has focused on diverse issues, ranging from long-term watershed habitat conservation plans to fisheries management and research on nearshore estuary environments. Dan has a US Coast Guard Inalnd Master 100 Gross Tons Merchant Marine License and has worked as a boat captain on sport fishing boats in the Puget Sound and Alaska, as well as on passenger ferries and oil spill response vessels. He received his bachelor of Science in Environmental Planning from Seattle Pacific University and a master’s in Marine Affairs from the University of Washington. He is a Kinship Conservation Fellow.

Dan covered the spectrum of issues related to rockfish protection.

Report from the Climate Change Front – State Senator Kevin Ranker at the NW Straits Conference

Washington State is in the forefront of the impacts of climate change around the world. In addition to actually feeling the effects, in alarming problems emerging in our waters that are impacting shellfish, we have a state legislature and governor that have demanded and funded serious scientific study along with  a feedback loop to the lawmakers from the Governor’s directives, as well as State law.

It is difficult to collate all the scientific efforts of this funding into a neat package, but once or twice a year, we get a window into that work. The Northwest Straits Initiative, which for over 15 years has brought together scientists, business interests, tribes  and volunteer citizens, holds their annual conference.  These people belong to the Marine Resource Committees  (MRCs) of seven counties, from Snohomish to the Canadian border, and west through the Strait of Juan de Fuca (along with non-NW Straits Initiative managed counties along the Coast). The MRC  representatives  come together to share the stories of their work, and hear a unified program of science efforts that support or influence that work.

This year, the conference attendees, were treated to an update on many of the various climate change issues that they face. As part of our coverage of this important conference, and because the NW Straits does not have the financial capabilities to hold a large public forum, we  at the Olympic Peninsula Environmental News present a series of presentations to you over the next few weeks, to allow the general public to hear what was told to the attendees. Given that the attendees are mainly volunteers (there are a few part time staff members in each jurisdiction to help in project management and grant writing), and come forward from the local communities, for those who are interested in volunteering, or cannot afford the time and money to attend the conference, we will post audio of all the presentations we were able to cover, which was all but two, and in addition, as time allows, we will also post the powerpoint presentations of those speakers who used it.

Washington State Senator Kevin leads off the presentations. Hailing from  San Juan County,  Senator Ranker has been instrumental in providing support with funding and legislation to scientific research and policy guidance on ocean acidification (OA). OA research is a critical to fund, as the effects of the increased acidification, in even small degrees, appears to have serious outcomes on shellfish, which provides over $270 million dollars a year (2010 number), and over 3200 direct jobs, most of them in rural and lower income communities around the Sea.  These jobs also support the wider communities they live in with indirect jobs, in supporting industries.

Senator Ranker’s presentation can be found at the following link. You can listen to it right here, or download it for later listening on any MP3 player, or your tablet or PC. The presentation is 38 minutes long, and Senator Ranker’s slides will likely be available later. It is our opinion that not immediately having his slides will not detract from his message. The Senator is a very humorous and off the cuff speaker.

If you wish to attend any of the monthly MRC meetings in your area, check their local web sites. All meetings are open to the public and are advertised in advance. You can also support the work of the NW Straits Initiative, by donating to the NW Straits Foundation. Their web site is http://www.nwstraits.org and http://www.nwstraits.org/Foundation/About.aspx.

Salish Sea Health Report shows mixed trends for key environmental indicators in Puget Sound and Northwest Straits

A report featuring key environmental indicators for the Salish Sea shows mixed trends, with some indicators showing improvements, others declining, and others remaining steady. The Health of the Salish Sea Ecosystem Report, issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Environment Canada, features indicators in four key areas: Air, water, animal species, and human well-being. The contents of the report are featured in a comprehensive website: http://www2.epa.gov/salish-sea …. As a whole, the 2013 report showed positive trends in reducing pollution in the aquatic food web, but showed continuing declines across aquatic habitat and species based indicators. More specifically, the report shows improved air quality, improved freshwater water quality and reductions in persistent toxic chemicals in the aquatic food web. The indicators representing populations of wild species, including marine species at risk and Chinook salmon abundance, need more attention. Two habitat indicators sensitive to climate change, summer stream flow and marine water quality, are also showing declining trends. News release:  http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/0/47dab506b735ad3285257bac00646ec9?OpenDocument

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