Monday, February 26, 2018

2/26 Sandfish, orca protection, fuel spill, BC pipe, ocean acid, Andeavor, sea otters, BC pollution, Governors Pt., plane fuel, global fishing, deer control, rodenticides, rising sea, Zinke revamp

Pacific sandfish [PHOTO: Pat McMahon]
Pacific Sandfish Trichodon trichodon
Pat McMahon writes; "Several years ago I found several sandfish on the beach at Makah Bay. They were mostly gravid females. What a treat as they are rarely seen. This is not  surprising as they like to be buried. And with that upturned mouth they have  a perfect ambush. I have seen juveniles while snorkeling in the kelp beds at Cape Flattery."

Sen. Kevin Ranker breathes new life into Orca Protection Act
The proposed Orca Protection Act, which was declared dead last week in the Washington State Senate, has sprung back to life with the addition of a budget provision that offers a new chance of passage. The newly resuscitated bill, approved by the Senate Ways and Means Committee, is nearly identical to the original bill, which includes special protections for the endangered Southern Resident killer whales. If approved by both houses, the legislation would impose new restrictions on boaters and drone pilots, increase on-water patrols by state law-enforcement officers and support studies regarding what people can do to save the whales. Chris Dunagan reports. (Watching Our Water Ways)

Canadian navy ship spills fuel in Strait of Georgia
Officials with the Department of National Defence say one of its vessels in the Strait of Georgia — HMCS Calgary — spilled 30,000 litres of fuel on Saturday morning. The patrol frigate was sailing in the strait's shipping lanes between Nanaimo and Parksville when the spill occurred, said Commodore Jeff Zwick, commander of the Canadian fleet in the Pacific region…. The spill happened while crews onboard the vessel were transferring fuel internally. Zwick said about 30,000 litres of F-76 fuel was spilled. He said human error was likely a factor, although he noted that the investigation into the cause is still underway. F-76 is a naval fuel used in compression ignition engines, according to a NATO publication. It's also used in naval gas turbines and ships' boilers for steam raising. Chad Pawson reports. (CBC)

Provincial power plays: B.C. and Alberta test the boundaries in pipeline debate
At the heart of the cooling dispute between Alberta and B.C. were two provinces flexing their muscles, testing the limits of their powers. Premiers Rachel Notley and John Horgan have both said they're working in the interests of the citizens they represent. But it's open to interpretation whether Alberta had the right to ban B.C. wine or if B.C. has the authority to restrict bitumen exports from the federally approved Trans Mountain pipeline. Those are questions for the court, and both provinces have strong arguments to make, a pair of UBC professors told CBC News. Bethany Lindsay reports. (CBC)

Confronting Ocean Acidification in the Salish Sea: An Update on Washington’s Efforts 
Salish Sea Communications guest blogger Martha Kongsgaard writes: "Ocean acidification (OA) has long been a worry for the Salish Sea. And while the threat persists, we can take some solace in the progress we have made over many years of concentrated study and initiative. The last five years have been particularly important. Washington State has emerged as a global leader in the fight against ocean acidification, thanks to the leadership of Governors Gregoire and  Inslee and the work of cross disciplined scientists and industry leaders…." (read more)

Appeal hearing Tuesday for refinery project
The Skagit County Board of Commissioners will hold an appeal hearing Tuesday regarding a multimillion dollar project proposed for the Andeavor Anacortes Refinery. The hearing will be 9 to 11 a.m. in the Commissioners Office, 1800 Continental Place in Mount Vernon. Environmental groups are appealing a permit approved for the refinery’s proposed Clean Products Upgrade Project. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

More on sea otters
Robert McFetridge writes: "The comment about sea otters seldom going ashore reminded me of a promotional video for the MV Uchuck tour in Nootka Sound on the west coast of the Island.  That includes some shots of large numbers of sea otters up on the rocks presumably taken in Nootka Sound.  I don't know if there are other records of frequent use of similar rocky points." And Forest Shomer writes: "Sea otter has also been identified as the prime vector for the dissemination of Opuntia fragilis, the only native cactus around the Salish Sea. The reproductive pods will attach to the sea otter, and when it returns to land on a nearby shore, dehisces and becomes a potential mother to a new colony. No other natural vector has been identified besides the sea otter. When last thoroughly surveyed, there were about 260 cactus sites on the islands and nearby shores of the Salish Sea—corresponding to the range of sea otters."

Ocean pollution tracked by scientists
From the beach just outside the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ lab in West Vancouver, the waters of Sandy Cove sparkle in the sunlight. But the picture-perfect scene masks a less pristine reality. Not far from this site, mussels on the shores of West Bay measured the highest levels of dioxin and furan contamination among 54 sites in coastal B.C. sampled by scientists with the Coastal Ocean Research Institute who work in the lab.  Nearby, mussels off Eagle Harbour ranked second for dioxin and furan contamination and most contaminated for hydrocarbons. A site in Burrard Inlet off Altamont ranked No. 1 for mercury levels. Pesticides, pharmaceuticals, flame retardants and synthetic chemicals used in soaps and industrial processes were other common contaminants found in local mussel and sediment samples. Jany Seyd reports. (North Shore News/Squamish Chief)

After five decades, ‘iconic’ Governors Point has a new owner – and possible public access
A Canadian business owner has bought Governors Point for $5.7 million and plans to build 16 homes on the peninsula while setting aside two-thirds of the land as a nature reserve. Randy Bishop bought the 125-acre property through his Governors Point Land LP. The sale closed Friday. It had been approved by U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Western District of Washington. Roger Sahlin and his family, who have owned the land since the 1960s, were the sellers. The peninsula off Chuckanut Drive south of Bellingham has been part of bankruptcy proceedings since May 2015. Kie Relyea reports. (Bellingham Herald)

New Maps Reveal Global Fishing's 'Vast Scope Of Exploitation Of The Ocean'
The fishing industry has long been hard to monitor. Its global footprint is difficult even to visualize. Much fishing takes place unobserved, far from land, and once the boats move on, they leave behind few visible traces of their activity. But this week, the journal Science published some remarkable maps that help fill that gap. John Amos, president of an organization called SkyTruth, which helped produce them, issued a statement calling the maps “a stunning illustration of the vast scope of exploitation of the ocean.” Dan Charles reports. (NPR) See also: Artificial intelligence shows unprecedented detail in global fishing activities   Cassie Williams reports. (CBC)

Planes dumped hundreds of tonnes of fuel over Canada in 2016
Commercial jet aircraft are dumping hundreds of tonnes of aviation fuel in Canadian airspace because of mechanical problems, medical and other emergencies, and even unruly passengers. Airlines typically dump fuel before premature landings, streaming it through nozzles near the trailing edges of wing tips, to ensure the plane is light enough to land safely. These pollution incidents fly under the public radar and raise no special alarms for Canadian aviation authorities, including for the environmental effects such as greenhouse gas emissions. “From a high altitude, fuel vaporizes and is not a hazard to the environment,” Transport Canada spokeswoman Marie Anyk said. Larry Pynn reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Oak Bay, B.C., moves ahead with experimental deer control program
The community of Oak Bay, on southern Vancouver Island, is moving ahead with an experimental project to control urban deer using a contraceptive that has been used on the wild horse population in Alberta. The district has partnered with the Urban Wildlife Stewardship Society, which is overseeing the project. It aims to capture 20 does before fawning season begins in late March. The group is now sedating and putting collars on the animals, equipped with tracking devices. The team is also taking blood, fecal and DNA samples. Emily Brass reports. (CBC)

Vancouver park board orders review of use of rodenticides
The Vancouver park board is conducting a review of rodenticides after Postmedia News revealed that the placement of poisoned-bait boxes around restaurants and other park buildings could result in the secondary poisoning of owls and other wildlife attracted to parks…. The review will also determine how many of the boxes are currently out there with active bait and how many are no longer in use but have not been picked up. Larry Pynn reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Left to Louisiana’s Tides, a Village Fights for Time
For the community of Jean Lafitte, the question is less whether it will succumb to the sea than when — and how much the public should invest in artificially extending its life. From the series The Drowning Coast, a three-part special report about the ecological crisis facing Louisiana’s vanishing coast, and the people who live there. Kevin Sack and John Schwartz reports. (NY Times, NOLA.com, Times-Picayune of New Orleans)

US lands agency makeover would diminish Washington’s power 
U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke disclosed Friday in an Associated Press interview that he’s revamping a sweeping overhaul of his department that’s supposed to speed up permitting for development on public lands, but Democrats asserted it was just a ploy to let the energy industry get its way. The changes follow complaints from a bipartisan group of Western state governors that Zinke did not consult them before unveiling a plan last month to decentralize the Interior Department. The agency oversees vast public lands, primarily in the U.S. West, ranging from protected national parks and wildlife refuges to areas where coal mining and energy exploration dominate the landscape. Matthew Brown and Dan Elliott report. (Associated Press)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  229 AM PST Mon Feb 26 2018  
SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY FOR HAZARDOUS SEAS IN EFFECT THROUGH THIS
 AFTERNOON  
TODAY
 NW wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 11  ft at 14 seconds. A slight chance of showers in the morning.
TONIGHT
 SW wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell  8 ft at 13 seconds. A slight chance of showers in the evening  then rain likely after midnight.

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