Monday, April 6, 2015

4/6 Poop DNA, fake reef, hatcheries, fish farm, sardines, fish slaves, snowpack, protect orcas, train watch, Skagit GI, beaver dams, Octo Ursula, CA water

Dog-poop DNA tests nail non-scoopers
…. Just you and Rex at the park, or maybe by your neighbor’s hedge, in that spot where that neighbor can’t spot you two. But, no, DNA testing for dog droppings — to identify whether it was left by Rex or Fluffy — has finally arrived in this region…. A company called BioPet Vet Lab, out of Knoxville, Tenn., says its PooPrints testing kits are now in 26 apartment and condo complexes and homeowner associations in greater Seattle. Erik Lacitis reports. (Seattle Times)

Former Canadian warship sunk off B.C. coast to create artificial reef
The sound of boat horns and cheering from hundreds of excited onlookers saturated the smoke-filled ocean air as demolition crews sank a former Canadian warship off the B.C. coast on Saturday. After years of legal wrangling, the Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia successfully sank the former HMCS Annapolis in the waters of Halkett Bay Marine Provincial Park off Gambier Island northwest of Vancouver. Geordon Omand reports. (Canadian Press)

NOAA plan will speed up review of hatcheries
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has withdrawn its draft environmental impact statement on Puget Sound salmon and steelhead hatcheries. The draft was in preparation of a full review of all 133 hatchery genetic management plans into one EIS. Reviews will now proceed on a smaller scale with individual or watershed-level plans, according to NOAA’s March 26 announcement. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Guest Opinion: Why fish hatcheries remain essential
Daniel Jack Chasan’s recent attack on salmon and steelhead hatcheries failed to provide a view of their importance to the 20 treaty Indian tribes in western Washington. Our treaty rights depend on salmon and steelhead being available for harvest. Hatcheries are essential to fulfilling the harvest rights that the tribes reserved in treaties with the United States government. Without hatcheries there would be no salmon or steelhead fishing at all by anyone in western Washington. Most wild stocks are not healthy enough to support sustainable harvest. Lorraine Loomis opines. (Crosscut)

Tackling a sustainable industry for Atlantic salmon farming
In a clearing near Port McNeill, an experiment is under way. Inside an unassuming steel-clad building, thousands of Atlantic salmon swim in circular tanks. When those fish are big enough – in about 12 months, when they have grown from 100-gram smolts to between three to five kilograms in weight – they will be harvested, having never touched the ocean. Their waste will be processed into garden soil. Water, almost all of which is recirculated, comes from nearby wells and the plant is highly automated…. Kuterra is a front-runner in the quest to prove Atlantic salmon can be raised on land in a way that is more environmentally friendly than the ocean-based systems used to raise the fish, an aquaculture staple worldwide since the 1960s. It reached a milestone last April, when its salmon hit the market. But questions remain, including whether the costs – including equipment, power and food – of raising Atlantic salmon entirely on land outweigh potential profits. Wendy Stueck reports. (Globe and Mail)

Feds likely to shut down sardine fishing on West Coast
West Coast fisheries managers will likely shut down sardine fishing this year as numbers decline, echoing a previous collapse that decimated a thriving industry and increasing worries that other species might be withheld from the commercial market. Fishermen are resigned to not being able to get sardines, but they hope the Pacific Fishery Management Council will not be so concerned that it sets the level for incidental catch of sardines at zero, shutting down other fisheries, such as mackerel, anchovies and market squid, which often swim with sardines. Jeff Barnard reports. (Associated Press)

AP investigation prompts emergency rescue of 300 plus slaves
Hundreds of fishermen raced to be rescued Friday from the isolated Indonesian island where an Associated Press investigation found that many were enslaved to catch seafood that could end up in the United States and elsewhere. Robin McDowell and Margie Mason report. (Associated Press)

Sparse snowpack in Olympics close to worst in America’s West
Despite a dusting of fresh snow on the peaks, the snowpack in the Olympic Mountains looks more like a record snow lack, fueling concerns about a thirsty summer. As of Saturday, the snowpack was at a mere 3 percent of average, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service, which monitors snowpack to predict summer water supplies. It’s the second-lowest snowpack by percentage west of the Rocky Mountains, behind only California’s Lake Tahoe region, which measured 2 percent of the mammoth snowfall expected near the lake in the Sierra Nevada range. Arwyn Rice reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Tired of waiting for feds, advocates take own path to protect orcas
A group of orca advocates is making its own plans to protect endangered killer whales, saying a federal action plan is overdue. The group celebrated news of four calves born to the southern resident killer whales since December. But with a 50 per cent mortality rate and a slew of other threats to their survival, members say it’s time to get serious about protecting the species, which was declared endangered 12 years ago. “What we really need is a comprehensive plan,” said Misty MacDuffee, a biologist with the Raincoast Conservation Foundation. Amy Smart reports. (Times Colonist)

Snohomish County group tallies oil train shipments, verifies BNSF railway reports
Environmental activists are preparing to head out this month to perform a second annual tally of trains carrying crude oil and coal through Snohomish County. Snohomish County Train Watch sent 29 volunteers out last year to cover around-the-clock shifts during an entire week in Edmonds, Everett and Marysville. They recorded 16 shipments of oil and 20 of coal. Soon after the group released those findings, the federal government ordered railroads to disclose the number of crude-oil shipments of more than 1 million gallons passing through each county in each state. This year, the Train Watch count will be used to verify what BNSF Railway reports to state officials. Volunteers also will keep an eye on the types of tank cars that are in use and the routes the oil trains take. Noah Haglund reports. (Everett Herald)

County declines Skagit River GI study extension request
More than 20 years and nearly $20 million into the Skagit River General Investigation study, Skagit County has declined a request from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for more money and time. The corps last month requested a waiver from the county to extend the feasibility phase of the study through 2016 at an additional cost of $810,000. Feasibility is the second of five phases. The county announced Wednesday that it is not willing to adjust the earlier agreement. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Strait of Juan de Fuca beaches in Clallam closed to shellfish harvest
The Strait of Juan de Fuca from Cape Flattery to the Jefferson County line has been closed to recreational harvesting of all species of shellfish because of the danger of potentially deadly PSP, paralytic shellfish poisoning. The state Department of Health extended the closure Friday. (Peninsula Daily News)

Don Cayo: Libel case may have implications for other clashes over the environment
What is a SLAPP suit? SLAPP is a new-ish acronym that stands for “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation” — a slur that critics have coined to sling when a big guy, usually a business, sues a little guy, usually a citizen or a non-profit, for no better reason than to shut them up. Don Cayo opines. (Vancouver Sun)

Beavers Star in Tribes' Fish, Water Conservation Project
Sometimes moving to a new neighborhood is the best choice for everyone. That's the theory behind a research project by the Tulalip Tribes of Washington to relocate beaver families. The critters have become a nuisance in the lowlands but in higher elevations, their hard work can benefit the entire Snohomish watershed. Ben Dittbrenner is a graduate student of University of Washington Environmental and Forestry Sciences and he's working with the Tribes to trap and move beavers and study the effects of their dam-building. When less snow is predicted with a changing climate, he says a beaver dam is just the right type of eco-friendly barrier to moderate spring runoff. Chris Thomas reports. (Public News Service)

Hello, Ursula: Poll-takers name Port Angeles marine life center octopus in vote landslide
Thanks to overwhelming support by online voters, the new moniker for an octopus at the Feiro Marine Life Center is Ursula. The name — inspired by the tentacled villain in Walt Disney Co.’s 1989 movie “The Little Mermaid” — beat three other names in the Peninsula Poll conducted on the Peninsula Daily News’ website Friday and Saturday.  Chris McDaniel reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Will Turning Seawater Into Drinking Water Help Drought-Hit California?
Last week, Governor Jerry Brown made water conservation mandatory in the drought-stricken state of California. "As Californians, we have to pull together and save water in every way we can," he said. But if the four-year drought continues, conservation alone — at least what's required by the governor's plan — won't fix the problem. Across California, communities are examining all options to avoid running out of water. Some, like the coastal city of Santa Barbara, are looking to the past for inspiration. (NPR)

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