Monday, July 18, 2016

7/18 Fraser sockeye, sonar, aliens, BC pipe, MNCA, Wild Olympics, Vic sewer, clam gardens, goose poop, gopher ESA

Fraser R. sockeye (The Tyee)
Fraser River sockeye returns predicted to be dismal — again — this summer
Sockeye returns are predicted to be so low this summer on the Fraser River that they won’t support a commercial or recreational fishery. The Pacific Salmon Commission said Friday that the four-year cycle for this year’s sockeye runs has generated an average 3.9 million fish over the past half century, well above the 2.27 million fish anticipated to return this season. It is a median prediction, meaning that half the time the run could be higher and half the time lower….This marks the third time in four years in which Fraser River sockeye returns have been a washout…. Several reasons are to blame for this summer’s dismal situation, including low spawning escapements four years ago and poor survival related to warm ocean conditions. Larry Pynn reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Federal appeals court rejects Navy sonar-use rules
A federal appeals court ruled Friday that the U.S. Navy was wrongly allowed to use sonar that could harm whales and other marine life. The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court decision upholding approval granted in 2012 for the Navy to use low-frequency sonar for training, testing and routine operations. The five-year approval covered peacetime operations in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans and the Mediterranean Sea. The appellate panel sent the matter back to the lower court for further proceedings. (US News and World Report)

Bill could increase risks of alien species invasions in Puget Sound waters
Congress is on the verge of passing a law that would open a door for invasive species to sneak into Puget Sound from San Francisco Bay — known as the most infested waterway in the country. The proposed legislation, supported by the shipping industry, is focused on reducing regulations surrounding the release of ballast water, which large ships use to maintain stability. Environmental groups and officials from at least nine states have voiced their opposition to the proposal, saying it could result in long-term damage to coastal and Great Lakes ecosystems. Ballast water doesn’t get much attention in the media, but it has been associated with the transfer of invasive species throughout the world. Ships often take on ballast water at ports where they unload their cargo before moving to their next destination for a new load. As ships take on cargo, they discharge ballast water from the previous location — along with any organisms that hitched a ride. Chris Dunagan reports. (Watching Our Water Ways)

Trudeau making same mistake as Harper on pipelines, say critics
The Trudeau government’s new Kinder Morgan panel, aimed at reviving public trust in the federal review process, has come under fire as it starts B.C. hearings next week into the controversial $6.8-billion pipeline expansion project. Some West Coast First Nation leaders say the Liberals are ignoring, and therefore are likely to repeat, the mistakes of the Harper Conservatives. Accusations that Stephen Harper’s Conservative government failed to adequately consult First Nations on Enbridge Inc.’s proposed $7.9 billion Northern Gateway project to Kitimat resulted in last month’s Federal Court of Appeal decision quashing the 2014 approval of the project. Earlier this year, the new Liberal government unveiled a new three-person panel to hear public, interest group, and First Nation concerns in B.C. and Alberta about Kinder Morgan’s bid to triple capacity of its line from Edmonton to Burnaby. Peter O'Neil reports. (Vancouver Sun)

MLA pushes to re-start talks on Salish Sea
Quietly, a B.C. and Ottawa agreement to look into creating a National Marine Conservation Area (NMCA) for the southern Strait of Georgia, has stalled — and now there’s a small push to have those talks resume. Saanich North and the Islands MLA Gary Holman and his NDP counterpart from Port Alberni, Scott Fraser, co-signed a letter last month, urging both levels of government to meet with First Nations and get talking again — 13 years after both B.C. and Ottawa signed a memorandum of understanding on the matter. Steven Heywood reports. (Peninsula News Review)

Map released in support of Wild Olympics campaign; two outdoor retailers touting Peninsula’s nature, recreation
Two popular outdoor clothing retailers are encouraging their customers to visit the Olympic Peninsula and support the Wild Olympics campaign. REI and Patagonia are promoting the Wild Olympics campaign at REI Seattle and online, encouraging customers to experience the diverse nature and outdoor recreation available on the North Olympic Peninsula. The campaign supports the proposed Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, which was reintroduced last year by U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Seattle, and U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor. The bill would permanently protect more than 126,000 acres of new wilderness areas in Olympic National Forest and 19 Olympic Peninsula rivers and their tributaries as Wild and Scenic Rivers — the first ever on the Peninsula. Jesse Mayor reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Clover Point sewage treatment plant panned by Victorians
If there was ever any doubt, it’s official: Victorians do not want a sewage treatment plant at Clover Point. The city received feedback from 400 people at a public hearing, along with 702 responses in a survey and 120 emails. The common theme, said Jonathan Tinney, was that a sewage plant should be located where it will have minimal impact on residential or high-use areas…. The Capital Regional District had been looking at building plants at Clover Point in Victoria and at either McLoughlin Point or Macaulay Plain in Esquimalt at an estimated cost of $1.13 billion. That changed in May, when the province stepped in and appointed an independent panel to oversee the project. Community Minister Peter Fassbender essentially told CRD directors they would have to agree to the panel or risk losing more than $500 million in federal and provincial grants for the project. Bill Cleverley reports. (Times Colonist)

State releases crab and prawn consumption guidelines
It is safe to eat Dungeness crab and spot prawns caught in local waters, according to a state report released Thursday. The report is based on data collected in 2011 and 2012 by the state Department of Health and state Department of Fish & Wildlife. The agencies tested crabs and prawns from each of the state’s marine areas for a variety of pollutants, including pesticides, metals and chemicals that don’t break down easily in the environment. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Clam gardens provide new perspective on First Nations history
Roasted mussels were a favourite meal of Captain George Vancouver and his crew as they explored the island archipelagos of the Pacific Northwest. They could find them “in the wild” and cook them up on the spot – a rare treat for sailors whose diet was otherwise strictly controlled by the Victualling Board of the British Navy and consisted mainly of hardtack and salted meat du jour. One unfortunate though, John Carter, of the H.M.S. Discovery, actually died after eating contaminated shellfish for breakfast on the central coast at a place they decided to call Poison Cove. B.C.’s First Nations had a similar sweet tooth for shellfish but what has not been widely recognized until recent decades is that they also employed a sophisticated maritime technology to harvest the seafood. Precontact, shellfish were a staple for many aboriginal groups on the coast, as important as salmon and more reliable as a food source year-round. John Goodman reports. (North Shore News)

Canada Goose poop complaints spurs action from Port Moody council
Rocky Point Park is a favourite spot for Nicola Shoton and her two daughters who usually like to roll in the grass and have a picnic, but this year, they have had to focus more on where they put their feet due to the amount of Canada Goose poop in the Port Moody park….The City of Port Moody says complaints about all the geese are up and it is taking steps to do something about the problem. Chad Pawson reports. (CBC)

Federal cuts create backlog of Thurston County gopher reviews
The Mazama pocket gopher continues to dig up drama in Thurston County. The latest in the continuing saga of the furry critter that was listed about two years ago as threatened under the Endangered Species Act: A whole lot of finger-pointing between Thurston County and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over some cutbacks that could cause more delays for property owners. County officials say U.S. Fish and Wildlife recently informed them that the agency’s biologists will be able to survey property for gophers with county biologists only three days a week, instead of four, like last year. Lisa Pemberton reports. (Olympian)

Port Angeles, tribe say Elwha water plant never worked, still doesn’t 
It was the most expensive single part of the $325 million Elwha dam-removal project: a $79 million water-facilities project designed and built for the National Park Service that has never worked as originally planned. Now the park service is ready to hand the plant off to the city of Port Angeles, but the city doesn’t want it, saying it doesn’t work and will cost too much to operate. The city says it won’t take over the facilities — which include screens, pumps, a water intake, a water-treatment plant and other components — without $16 million in repairs first. The city also wants money to cover higher than anticipated operating costs for 20 years, for a total of $41 million. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

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