Monday, May 4, 2015

5/4 Jelly blooms, shellfish spray, sea star babies, Simpson exit, oil train rules, Shell protest, BC LNG, sea lab

Moon jellyfish (Dept of Ecology/Seattle Times)
Prime fish give way to hordes of jellyfish in Puget Sound
Correigh Greene hauled the dripping, black net over the stern of the RV Orca and dumped its meager contents into a blue plastic tub: Five fingerling surf smelt, one juvenile herring, a few nickel-sized jellyfish and a handful of assorted larvae. Paltry catches aren’t unusual on cool, April days, explained Greene, a fisheries biologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle…. Late last May, in this same spot near Deception Pass State Park, Greene and his crew hauled up a net so heavy they couldn’t winch it up on deck. But the contents didn’t speak well for the health of the ecosystem. Instead of the plump herring and smelt that used to be the dominant forage fish in Puget Sound, the net was bristling with 40,000 sticklebacks — bony, armored fish that seem to be on the upswing. In some parts of the Sound, the researchers’ nets are often crammed with jellyfish — another sign of a shift toward a less-productive environment. Sandi Doughton reports. (Seattle Times)

Washington State Officials Withdraw Shellfish Spray Permit
Washington's Department of Ecology has canceled a permit to spray pesticides over shellfish beds in two areas, officials said Sunday. The decision to halt the practice in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor is part of an agreement between the local oyster growers association and the state. The growers association submitted a letter to the Department of Ecology on Sunday, after environmental concerns were raised in news coverage. The department reported hearing from residents across Washington state that the practice did not meet their expectations. (ABC News) See also:  Shellfish producer backs away from pesticide spraying
After receiving calls, emails and social-media comments from customers all day Friday, Washington’s largest shellfish producer has announced it will not treat its oyster beds with a controversial pesticide. “Our customers spoke loud and clear today, and that speaks volumes to us,” Bill Dewey, spokesman for Taylor Shellfish, said Friday.  Carol Garnick reports. (Seattle Times) See also: Oyster pesticide battle shows who really wields power   A couple of chefs accomplished in a few days what two powerful federal agencies couldn’t do in more than a year: head off the plan to spray pesticides on oyster beds. Danny Westneat reports. (Seattle Times)

New sea star babies offer hope amid mass deaths in Pacific
In scattered sites along the Pacific Coast, researchers and others have reported seeing hundreds of juvenile sea stars, buoying hopes for a potential comeback from sea star wasting disease that has caused millions of purple, red and orange sea stars to curl up, grow lesions, lose limbs and disintegrate into a pile of goo. Phuong Le reports. (Associated Press)

Simpson pulling up stakes is painful
Shelton was always a company town. For most of the 20th century, Simpson Timber Co.’s logging and mill operations were synonymous with the city’s industrial waterfront and the forest economy of rural Mason County. That era is over now, and this week Mason County’s struggling economy got another clear, urgent message. It needs to diversify, or reinvent its economic identity, and its workforce needs retraining opportunities. Some 270 jobs at Simpson’s mills in Shelton and Dayton are going away by June 30 as Simpson sells those operations to a Northern California firm, Sierra Pacific Industries. (Olympian)

Fish biologist piggy backs on other research as he seeks answers on coastal cutthroat trout
Most days this time of year, James Losee is working on salmon or steelhead projects for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. But when he can, the state fish biologist slips on his waders and life jacket, and joins the crew using a beach seine net to capture smelt along South Sound beaches. Losee’s interest is not the forage fish that are the focus of a Fish and Wildlife research project. It’s the larger fish also caught as the net is brought to shore. Jeffrey P. Mayor reports. (News Tribune of Tacoma)

New oil-train rules leave a lot of questions unanswered
The U.S. and Canadian governments on Friday unveiled a long-awaited new standard for the tank cars used to transport crude oil and ethanol that includes numerous safety improvements. But it is far from the final word on efforts to reduce the risk of catastrophic derailments, such as the one that killed 47 people in Lac-M├ęgantic, Quebec, nearly two years ago. And industry and environmental groups are bracing for a court fight over portions of the new regulations that they don’t like. Most of the current tank car fleet that doesn’t meet the new requirements will be allowed to carry ethanol and some types of crude oil for eight more years. Environmental groups and some lawmakers objected Friday to the extended timeline. Curtis Tate reports. (McClatchy)

Did You Like Knowing Where Oil Trains Moved In the Northwest? Too Bad.
Northwest emergency responders have complained about receiving little information about oil train movement through their community. They’re about to get even less. A set of new rules for oil train safety announced Friday includes mandates for tank car design, upgraded brakes and lower speed limits. The federal Department of Transportation also used it to rescind a requirement it issued last year requiring railroads notify states about shipments of flammable crude. Tony Schick reports. (KUOW) See also: State lawmakers call newly released rail-safety rules inadequate  Noah Haglund reports. (Everett Herald) See also: Washington Fire Chiefs seek BNSF info for disaster planning   Samantha Wohlfeil reports. (Bellingham Herald)

Kayakers prep for oil-drilling protests in West Seattle  
Judging from the water-safety preparations and drills off Seacrest Park in West Seattle, kayakers are ready for their upcoming mission to protest Shell oil rigs drilling in the Arctic. On Sunday, approximately 19 advanced kayakers learned self-rescue techniques and how to assist when a kayak capsizes in anticipation of the upcoming flotilla protest May 16 in Elliott Bay. Through the Shell No! Action Council, hundreds of kayakers will join forces to oppose the Port of Seattle’s decision to allow Terminal 5 to be used as a staging area for Arctic drilling. (Seattle Times)

'Game changer': Gas company offers $1-billion to First Nations band in B.C.
The proponent of a liquefied natural gas plant on British Columbia’s north coast is offering more than $1-billion to obtain the consent of a First Nations community, a groundbreaking proposal that could establish the new price for natural resource development in traditional aboriginal territories. In a province where resource projects have stalled and sometimes foundered over aboriginal opposition, the tentative deal between the Prince Rupert-based Lax Kw’alaams band and a joint venture led by Malaysia’s state-owned Petronas sets a new benchmark for sharing the wealth from energy extraction. Justine Hunter and Brent Jang reports. (Globe and Mail)

Underwater observatory to share data with those on land
Imagine if elementary school students took an interest in volcanoes and were able to track volcanic activity in the Pacific Ocean over the next 20 years, carrying what they witnessed into later college studies and maybe eventually their careers. That vision is part of what has driven researcher Deborah Kelley to bring to the rest of the world what she has experienced as one of the few deep-sea divers who have spent a significant amount of time along the seafloor. Kelley is part of a network of researchers across the country who have been involved in a decades-long National Science Foundation effort to bring underwater data and observations to people bound to the land…. Kelley, who teaches oceanography at the University of Washington and has been involved with the observatory project for years, said it’s a development that is going to change education across the globe. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Quilcene, Dabob bays closed to recreational shellfish harvesting because of biotoxin fears
Dabob Bay and Quilcene Bay beaches have been closed to the recreational harvest of shellfish because of high levels of a potentially deadly biotoxin. Shellfish samples taken Wednesday were found to contain dangerous amounts of the biotoxin that causes paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP), said Michael Dawson, lead environmental health specialist for the Jefferson County Water Quality Program. (Peninsula Daily News)

Now, your tug weather--
WEST ENTRANCE U.S. WATERS STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA-300 AM PDT MON MAY 4 2015
TODAY
W WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 1 OR 2 FT. W SWELL 4 FT AT 13 SECONDS. CHANCE OF RAIN IN THE AFTERNOON.
TONIGHT
W WIND 5 TO 15 KT. WIND WAVES 1 OR 2 FT. W SWELL 6 FT BUILDING TO 8 FT AT 13 SECONDS. SHOWERS LIKELY.

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