Thursday, July 7, 2016

7/7 'Jultober," ocean acid, BC pipe, culverts, salmon & orcas, Action Agenda, pooping, clean ups, KPLU, cit sci

(PHOTO: Tim Durkan/KOMO)
Warm trend to continue, signs of climate change observed
While temperatures have fallen below normal this week, the warmer-than-normal trend that set records in 2015 and melted snowpack early this spring is expected to continue. Warmer than normal temperatures are also being seen in the region’s waters, including the Skagit River, Padilla Bay and greater Puget Sound. State climatologist Nick Bond said while the recent warm temperatures will give way to a cooler period as El Niño conditions give way to La Niña — a transition in ocean temperatures anticipated later this year — there are signs of climate warming in long-term temperature trends. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald) See also: ‘Jultober’: More rainy, cool weather on its way to Seattle area  Jessica Lee reports. (Seattle Times)

Studies testing kelp as local fix for acidifying seawater
Scientist Joth Davis unspooled 150 feet of line holding thousands of tiny spores of kelp into Hood Canal in Washington state, while Brian Allen dove underwater and affixed the line to a buoy. Submerged about 10 feet underwater, the bull kelp seedlings will eventually form thick, slimy ribbons of brown seaweed and in the process take up carbon dioxide and other nutrients. Researchers hope it could offer a local strategy to ease the effects of ocean acidification - when seas absorb carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by human activity, a phenomenon that raises acidity and threatens marine life. Davis and a team of scientists are investigating whether growing kelp can reduce C02 levels in the inland marine waters of Puget Sound. They also want to find ways to market that harvested kelp for food, fuels or fertilizers. Phuong Le reports. (Associated Press)

Ocean acidification will make it hard for mussels to hang on, experiments suggest
For a seafood lover, the strong, stretchy threads that mussels use to cling to rocks are a nuisance to be discarded. But for the mussel, they're a lifeline — necessary to cling to its home — and new research shows they're vulnerable to the climate change double-whammy of warmer and more acidic waters. "It is concerning," said Emily Carrington, a professor at the University of Washington in Seattle who is presenting the findings today at the annual meeting of the Society of Experimental Biology. Lisa Johnson reports, 7/6. (CBC)

Northern Gateway pipeline approval overturned
The Federal Court of Appeal has overturned approval of Enbridge's controversial Northern Gateway project after finding Ottawa failed to properly consult the First Nations affected by the pipeline. "We find that Canada offered only a brief, hurried and inadequate opportunity … to exchange and discuss information and to dialogue," the ruling says. "It would have taken Canada little time and little organizational effort to engage in meaningful dialogue on these and other subjects of prime importance to Aboriginal Peoples. But this did not happen." The majority ruling was signed by two of the three judges on the Appeal Court panel. Judge Michael Ryer wrote a dissenting opinion. Jason Proctor reports, 6/30. (CBC)

State takes input on pipeline regulations
The state Department of Ecology is updating oil pipeline contingency planning regulations and is taking public input. Six pipelines are affected by the regulations, including two that move petroleum through Skagit County. Pipelines move millions of gallons of oil through the state each year, according to Ecology. Kimberly Cauvel reports, 6/26. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Washington must fix culverts that block salmon from habitat, court rules 
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed the state must repair culverts that block passage for salmon to spawning grounds. The decision handed down Monday marks the third time tribes have won their fight in court to hold the state to the promise of the treaties tribes signed in 1854 and 1855 ceding their lands to the federal government. In return, tribes reserved their right to continue to fish in their usual places. The court affirmed the federal government also was assuring tribes they would have fish to catch. Lynda Mapes reports, 6/27. (Seattle Times)

Summer salmon fisheries given the green light to get under way in many areas
After a two month delay, NOAA Fisheries has given state Fish and Wildlife the approval to reopen sport salmon fisheries effective immediately…. The negotiations that began in early March between state and tribal fishery managers was the most protected in history, stretching far deeper into the spring than in the past three decades of such talks, and one of the most contentious…. The heated issue stemmed from how to carve out fishing seasons while putting an emphasis to help conserve weak runs of Puget Sound wild coho and chinook listed under the federal endangered species act. Both the state and tribes finally came to an agreement on May 26. Mark Yuasa reports, 6/24. (Seattle Times)

Close fisheries to save West Coast killer whales, says federal report
Strategic fishery closures and marine habitat protection are part of a plan proposed by the federal government to protect two groups of threatened killer whales off Canada's West Coast. The recovery plan for the northern and southern resident killer whale populations has been set out online by the Fisheries and Oceans Canada with a 60-day public comment period. The document makes 94 recommendations to help the two distinct whale populations that eat only fish. 6/29. (Canadian Press)

Orca population remains uncertain on census day
The annual census of killer whales that frequent Puget Sound is supposed to be based on a population count for July 1 each year, but this year the count has barely begun as we move into July. For years, all three pods of Southern Resident orcas typically wandered into Puget Sound in late May or early June, but things have been changing. So far this year, most of the whales have remained somewhere else, probably somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. And that even goes for J pod, the most resident of the resident pods. Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale Research, who is responsible for the census, said the Fraser River chinook run has been so low this year that the whales have stayed away. He may not be able to get a complete count until September… Chris Dunagan reports, 7/6. (Watching Our Water Ways)

Anglers' plan to feed endangered B.C. orcas given green light, but met with some criticism
A group of fishermen in British Columbia say the federal government has given it the green light for a project designed to feed endangered killer whales. But it's a unique plan that not everyone supports….  [F]or the past two years, fishermen at the south end of Vancouver Island have had a somewhat wild plan in the works. They want to feed the whales by releasing young chinook salmon into the water…. The group says the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has given it the green light to buy and raise chinook at a hatchery in Port Alberni, B.C. When they reach the correct size, the fish will be trucked to the Sooke River, near Victoria, for release. The fish will be tagged so their travel in the ocean can be tracked…. The Raincoast Conservation Foundation is opposed to the idea and foundation biologist Misty MacDuffee says she is shocked DFO approved the plan. There are problems integrating hatchery salmon with wild salmon, she says. Belle Puri and Chris Corday report, 7/2. (CBC News)

Sea-Tac International Becomes First 'Salmon-Safe' Airport In the U.S. 
Sea-Tac International is the fastest growing airport in North America -- and the first in the U. S. to receive certification as “Salmon Safe.” The designation recognizes work to improve water quality that goes above and beyond federal requirements…. The Salmon-Safe label comes from a group called Stewardship Partners, which started the program about 15 years ago with wineries and small farms.  It has since expanded to include everything from golf courses to corporate headquarters and developers such as Nike and Vulcan. Bellamy Pailthorp reports, 6/28. (KPLU)

Mystery remains in deaths of young salmon
…. [W]hile much of the public’s attention has lately been focused on salmon runs from the Columbia River, where a federal judge just rejected—for the fifth time—a federal recovery plan, a subtler mystery has been unfolding a little farther to the north. Beginning in late 2009, scientists in the Salish Sea found that three species of its salmonids—the Chinook, the coho, and the steelhead—faced something somewhat murkier than the Four H’s. Somewhere between the time they would emerge from whatever watershed they hatched in, to the time they should return to it, many more than expected were dying. Since the 1970s, all three species have experienced ten-fold declines during the marine phase of their lifecycle—the time, that is, they spend in Puget Sound in the U.S., or the Strait of Georgia in Canada. Eric Wagner reports, 6/29. (Salish Sea Currents)

Feds want to remove type of rockfish from endangered list
Federal biologists are proposing to remove a species of Puget Sound rockfish from the endangered species list. NOAA Fisheries says a new study found that Puget Sound/Georgia Basin canary rockfish is not genetically different from other canary rockfish found along the West Coast, making it ineligible for federal protection. Researchers conducted genetic testing on fin clips collected from rockfish caught by anglers. The federal agency listed the long-living bottom dweller as threatened in 2010. Two other species — yelloweye rockfish and boccaccio — listed at that time would still protected under the Endangered Species Act. 7/6 (Associated Press)

Leadership Council adopts ‘leaner’ Action Agenda for Puget Sound
Puget Sound Partnership continues to struggle in its efforts to pull everyone together in a unified cause of protecting and restoring Puget Sound. This week, the Puget Sound Leadership Council, which oversees the partnership, adopted the latest Puget Sound Action Agenda, which spells out the overall strategies as well as the specific research, education and restoration projects to save Puget Sound. The goal of restoring Puget Sound to health by 2020 — a date established by former Gov. Chris Gregoire — was never actually realistic, but nobody has ever wanted to change the date. The result has been an acknowledgement that restoration work will go on long after 2020, even though restoration targets remain in place for that date just four years away. Chris Dunagan reports, 7/2. (Watching Our Water Ways)

King County drops plan for septic-system fee 
A King County proposal to adopt an annual fee on septic systems to fund an inspection and oversight program has been dropped after an outcry from rural King County residents. Patty Hayes, director of Public Health – Seattle & King County, announced at a packed public meeting Tuesday night in Fall City that the department was tabling its effort to adopt a fee of up to $37 a year. The money would have funded a program to better manage on-site septic systems and identify sources of water contamination in the county. Lynn Thompson reports, 6/29. (Seattle Times) See also: Stink rises over proposed fee for septic systems in King County  Lynn Thompson reports, 6/27. (Seattle Times)

Efforts to address Padilla Bay water quality continue
The state Department of Ecology is collecting water quality data that will help shape a cleanup plan for Padilla Bay. The bay has intermittent high levels of fecal coliform bacteria, which indicates the presence of feces. Over the years, pollution has resulted in several closures to swimming at the Bay View State Park beach and recreational shellfish harvesting in the area. Ecology and Skagit County recently launched efforts to curb the pollution. Kimberly Cauvel reports, 6/25. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Clean up of Victoria's Rock Bay toxic site nearly complete
The federal government's remediation of one of B.C.'s most contaminated sites is wrapping up. The Rock Bay property in Victoria, which will now be sold to local First Nations, operated on Victoria's upper harbour until 1952. In its early days, the coal gasification plant helped to power Victoria. Work on cleaning up the land where the plant was has taken more than a decade. 7/5. (CBC)

March Point Landfill next waterfront cleanup site
Efforts to clean up historic pollution along the shorelines of Padilla and Fidalgo bays continue, with the next project aimed at the March Point Landfill site. The state Department of Ecology is drafting plans to clean up the site, which operated as a landfill for 23 years before becoming the site of a sawmill for about 30 years, according to a news release. The property is also known as the Whitmarsh Landfill. Kimberly Cauvel reports, 6/28. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Friends of 88.5 FM finalize details in sale of KPLU
The deal has been sealed to Save KPLU. Pacific Lutheran University and Friends of 88.5 FM announced Tuesday they have reached an agreement that will allow the nonprofit group to assume ownership of the station pending approval by the Federal Communications Commission. The purchase price for the station and its assets is $8 million, including $7 million in cash plus $1 million of in-kind underwriting announcements to be provided to PLU over 10 years. C.R. Roberts reports, 6/28. (Tacoma News Tribune)

University of Victoria researchers invite ferry passengers to become citizen scientists
University of Victoria geography professor Maycira Costa is turning BC Ferries' Queen of Oak Bay into a research vessel and its passengers into their lab assistants. Costa is the leader of the FOCOS project — Ferry Ocean Colour Observation System — which is inviting ferry passengers to take photos of the sea using a special tablet onboard. The images will be used to record the colour of the water, with greener water meaning a healthier and more productive ocean. Liam Britten reports, 7/5. (CBC)

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