Monday, May 11, 2015

5/11 Fish shift, clam garden, BC LNG, Pt Ruston, forage fish, BC salmon, Elwha pix, Shell drill, train rules

View from Rescue Bay (Laurie MacBride)
Detours and Delights
Laurie MacBride in Eye on Environment writes: "It was July, and we were heading north from BC’s Central Coast. We had planned to take Mathieson Channel that day, to explore the inlets of the Fiordland Recreational Area, which looked gorgeous in our cruising guidebooks…."

Populated Puget Sound sees stark shifts in marine fish species
The most populated areas of Puget Sound have experienced striking shifts in marine species, with declines in herring and smelt that have long provided food for other marine life and big increases in the catch of jellyfish, which contribute far less to the food chain, according to new research that tracks species over the last 40 years. The parallel trends of rising human population and declining forage fish such as herring and smelt indicate that human influences such as pollution and development may be eroding species that long dominated Puget Sound. In particular, the rise of jellyfish blooms may divert energy away from highly-productive forage species that provide food for larger fish and predators such as salmon, seabirds and marine mammals. The research by scientists from NOAA Fisheries' Northwest Fisheries Science Center, the University of Washington and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife was published in April in Marine Ecology Progress Series. (Phys.Org)

Clam gardens call into question hunter-gatherer past of B.C. First Nations
The discovery of an expansive system of historic clam gardens along the Pacific Northwest coast is contributing to a growing body of work that's busting long-held beliefs about First Nations as heedless hunter-gatherers. A team of researchers at Simon Fraser University has revealed that First Nations from Alaska to Washington state were marine farmers using sophisticated cultivation techniques to intensify clam production. In an article published recently in the journal American Antiquity, lead author Dana Lepofsky argued that the findings counter the perception of First Nations living passively as foragers in wild, untended environments. (CBC)

Province racks up LNG pipeline agreements with 28 First Nations
The B.C. government revealed Sunday it has revenue-sharing agreements in place with 28 First Nations for planned pipelines meant to supply proposed billion-dollar LNG plants on the coast of B.C. The province had publicly announced eight pipeline agreements with First Nations on four separate pipeline proposals in northwest B.C. The details of the 20 other agreements and who they are with are being kept under wraps — at the request of the First Nations — because the native groups are in negotiations with companies as well, said Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Minister John Rustad, who revealed the larger number of agreements that have been signed. Gordon Hoekstra reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Too tough or not enough? Different approaches by Tacoma, Ruston reflected in progress of Point Ruston
One of the biggest real estate developments in the South Sound is being built on top of one of the most contaminated pieces of land in the country. Adding to the complexity, two cities – one large, one small – share regulatory authority for the 97-acre urban village of Point Ruston. “Share” is a diplomatic description. The reality is closer to a tug of war between Tacoma’s and Ruston’s ways of doing business. To put it another way, the project has a Goldilocks problem: is the oversight from the two cities too hard or too soft? Kathleen Cooper and Kate Martin report. (Tacoma News Tribune)

Governor signs bill for big study of Puget Sound forage fish  [paywall subscription]
Puget Sound’s population of little fish will soon get a big look. A state Senate bill signed into law this week initiates the sound’s most comprehensive study of herring, smelt and other forage fish. These fish serve as prey for larger predators, including salmon, seals and killer whales. Small-scale surveys have indicated forage fish populations may be declining. Proposed by Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, the bill requires the state Department of Fish & Wildlife and state Department of Natural Resources to team up on an ambitious survey of forage fish spawning areas and a mid-water trawl survey at various depths throughout the sound. The survey results will help Fish and Wildlife develop conservation strategies for small fish populations that appear to be declining. Tristan Baurick reports. Kitsap Sun)

What’s killing off B.C.’s young salmon?
Hundreds of millions of young salmon are emerging from rivers along the B.C. coast, beginning a perilous journey that will take them north into the Gulf of Alaska. What happens on that remarkable migration, which most of the fish will not survive, remains one of the greatest mysteries of ocean science. Intense research is under way to determine where, why and how young salmon die at sea – particularly over the past few years. One theory is that massive mortality is caused by sea lice and that the infestations come from salmon farms. Gary Taccogna, regional manager of aqua culture environmental operations for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, disputes that. He monitors lice loads in farms and does not see the link that others do. Mark Hume reports. (Globe and Mail)

Changing mouth of Elwha River documented in aerial photos
Elwha River, open wide. Well, open your mouth, lengthen your channel and stick out what might become a new spit east of the estuary that's changing daily at the whim of an unshackled river. Aerial photographs of the Elwha — fed by sediment no longer impeded by hydroelectric dams — show it simultaneously elongating its course seaward, widening what one could call a delta, and “smearing” sediment along the shore of the Strait of Juan de Fuca in what's starting to look like a spit. That's not to say that's what will happen, according to Anne Shaffer of the Coastal Watershed Institute, because everything the unbound Elwha does is unanticipated. James Casey reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Foss Maritime fights to host Shell’s drilling rigs in Seattle
Foss Maritime said Friday it plans to appeal the city’s decision that the Port of Seattle needs a new land-use permit to host Royal Dutch Shell’s Arctic drilling fleet at Terminal 5. Mayor Ed Murray said Monday the Port needs a new permit because the current permit allows for cargo loading and unloading — not for maintaining and supplying oil-drilling rigs. Foss argues, however, that the current permit for Terminal 5 allows port customers to tie up vessels so goods and cargo can be stored, loaded and unloaded, “which is precisely what Foss is doing at Terminal 5,” the company said in the statement. Coral Garnick reports. (Seattle Times)

New rules on oil trains draw flak from firefighters, too
Lawmakers and environmental and industry groups criticized the federal government’s new safety measures for oil trains when they were announced earlier this month. Now another group has expressed disappointment in the new rules: Emergency responders. They’re among the first in danger when a fiery derailment happens. After another oil train derailed and caught fire last week, this time in North Dakota and the fifth in North America this year, firefighters renewed their call for more training and information about hazardous rail shipments. Curtis Tate reports. (McClatchy)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA-300 AM PDT MON MAY 11 2015
TODAY
SW WIND TO 10 KT...BECOMING NW 5 TO 15 KT IN THE AFTERNOON. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 5 FT AT 9 SECONDS. A CHANCE OF RAIN.
TONIGHT
SW WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 2 FT OR LESS. W SWELL 5 FT AT 9 SECONDS. A CHANCE OF RAIN.

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