Monday, March 30, 2015

3/30 J50, oil trains, offshore orca, B'ham port, fish hatcheries, sea lions, algae energy, slave seafood, WA budget

J50 (Capt. Simon Pidcock Ocean EcoVentures/CBC)
If you like to watch: Baby orca J50 comes out to play
Once given only a 50 percent chance of survival, the newest additions to the endangered southern resident community of orcas appear to be thriving. The Pacific Whale Watch Association (PWWA) has observed two three-month old babies, J50 and J51, in the waters around the San Juan Islands breaching and frolicking — and just plain having fun. (CBC)

Lawmakers aim to toughen laws on oil trains
State lawmakers are trying to reach agreement on tougher rules for the transportation of oil in Washington, including a requirement that rail carriers give local firefighters advance notice of when oil trains are coming. Competing bills in the House and Senate could bring higher taxes for refiners, larger crew sizes on trains for railroads and more inspections of tracks and railroad crossings. Sponsors of the bills are trying to reconcile differences and avoid legislative derailment, but the chasm might be too great in the typically contentious final weeks of the legislative session. Jerry Cornfield reports. (Everett Herald)

Offshore killer whales gain attention from Canadian government
The Canadian government is calling attention to the special needs of offshore killer whales in a new document, “Recovery Strategy for the Offshore Killer Whale in Canada ( PDF 3.8 mb).” Offshores are a mysterious, little-understood group of orcas that roam the West Coast. They are related to the more familiar resident and transient killer whales, but they are genetically, physically and socially distinct. The name “offshore” sort of tells the story; they often remain miles off the coast, out of sight and out of mind for most researchers as well as the public. Chris Dunagan reports. (Watching Our Water Ways)

Port of Bellingham could sign waterfront agreement Tuesday
The Port of Bellingham Commission will hold two special meetings Tuesday, March 31, to consider signing an agreement with an Irish developer that wants to redevelop the first portion of the downtown waterfront. A 3 p.m. public meeting will include a presentation on the master development agreement the port worked out with Dublin-based Harcourt Developments over the last year…. The commission will then take a recess and reopen the public meeting at 6 p.m. so those who work during the day and want to comment or learn about the agreement will get the chance to see the presentation and speak before the commission votes on the proposal. Samantha Wohlfeil reports. (Bellingham Herald)

Fish hatcheries: A 19th century fix that won’t die
If you found yourself recently in Marblemount, say, or North Bend, it might have been a good idea to visit the cold waters of the Cascade River or Tokul Creek and wave goodbye to the early winter run of Chambers Creek hatchery steelhead struggling upstream to the concrete tanks in which they were spawned. This winter’s run, a smaller batch next winter, and poof! Except for those released from a hatchery on the Skykomish River, near Monroe, we may have seen the last of those Chambers Creek fish. Or not. Daniel Jack Chasan reports. (Crosscut)

Boom times on the Columbia for California sea lions
Record numbers of sea lions are gathering in the Lower Columbia river this spring, intensifying the long-running challenge to protect salmon runs. Hal Bernton reports. (Seattle Times)

Algae into energy: New process studied at Sequim lab could lead to mass production of fuel while lowering carbon dioxide from the air
Scientists at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s Marine Sciences Laboratory are working to develop a new, low-cost process to draw carbon dioxide out of the air to grow algae that can be refined into alternative gasoline and jet fuel. The beauty of fuel derived from algae is that it is “carbon-neutral,” meaning that the amount of carbon dioxide, or CO2, released when it is burned is equivalent to the amount the algae consumes during growth.  If it were cheap enough to be in mass production, algae-derived fuel could, scientists say, put the brakes on emission into the atmosphere of CO2, which accounted for 82 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States in 2012, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Chris McDaniel reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

How Northwest Shoppers Can Avoid 'Slavery Seafood'
Marcie Sillman speaks with Tobias Aguirre, executive director of FishWise, about a recent AP report detailing slavery in Asian fisheries and what Pacific Northwest shoppers can do to avoid purchasing seafood that may have been caught by slaves. (KUOW)

Washington House Democrats Say 'Yes' To Capital Gains Tax, 'No' To Cap-And-Trade
Majority Democrats in the Washington state House have unveiled a proposed two-year, nearly $39 billion state budget and tax package. They embraced Governor Jay Inslee’s push for a state capital gains tax, but they’re not biting on the Democratic governor’s cap-and-trade proposal. The capital gains proposal House Democrats offered was slimmed down a bit -- a five percent tax rate instead of the governor’s seven percent. Austin Jenkins reports. (NW News Network)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA- 300 AM PDT MON MAR 30 2015
SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IN EFFECT THROUGH TUESDAY MORNING
TODAY
S WIND 15 TO 25 KT. WIND WAVES 2 TO 4 FT. W SWELL 9 FT AT 13 SECONDS. A CHANCE OF RAIN IN THE MORNING...THEN RAIN LIKELY IN
 THE AFTERNOON.
TONIGHT
S WIND 20 TO 30 KT...BECOMING W 15 TO 25 KT. WIND WAVES 3 TO 5 FT. W SWELL 10 FT AT 12 SECONDS. RAIN.

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"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato@salishseacom.com. Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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