Monday, March 5, 2018

3/5 Cormorants, WA fish farms, carbon fee, PSE, snowpack, feeding whales, roe herring fishery, Bears Ears, cetacean ban, oil spill watch

Cormorants [David Gluckman/Seattle Audubon]
Cormorants
* Double-crested Cormorants, our largest, has an orange bill and thick neck.  While in flight, look for a slight "crook" at the base of the neck. If a perched cormorant is holding it's wings out, it's almost suredly a Double-crested.
*If it has a dark bill, it's either a Pelagic or Brandt's Cormorant.  Pelagic Cormorants, our smallest, have very thin necks and small black bills.  In flight, they appear long-tailed in comparison to Brandt's.
*Both the bill size and neck thickness of the Brandt's Cormorant are in-between Pelagic and Double-crested.  A tan cheek-patch (with dark bill) is diagnostic for this species.  A relatively short-tail is helpful for birds in flight. (Seattle Audubon)

State kills Atlantic salmon farming in Washington
Atlantic salmon net-pen farming will be phased out in Washington by 2025 under legislation passed by the state Senate on Friday after a tough floor fight and fancy parliamentary footwork. With at least six lobbyists in a last-minute campaign, Cooke Aquaculture Pacific worked hard until the last vote Friday to keep its Atlantic salmon net-pen industry alive in Washington. But in the end the bill, which was buried under a blizzard of amendments, each one defeated, passed on a vote of 31-16. Lawmakers steamrollered through amendments by opponents of the bill to avoid sending it back for further review in the House. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times) See also: B.C., fish farmers react to Washington state ban  'We see this as an emotional response to a single mass escape at one farm,' says fish farm spokesperson (CBC)

New Washington initiative would put fee on carbon emissions
An initiative filed Friday would create an escalating Washington carbon “fee” on fossil fuels, and invest the revenue in clean energy, clean water, forests and other projects that seek to slow or help cope with climate change. The initiative was filed with the Secretary of State one day after a carbon-tax bill died in the Legislature. It is backed by the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy, a coalition of labor, environmental and tribal groups that are hoping their measure can make it onto the November election ballot…. The fee would start at $15 a metric ton of carbon, which would add an estimated 14 cents to the cost of a gallon of gasoline, and rise annually by $2 plus the rate of inflation. According to the initiative, 70 percent of the fee money would be set aside for clean air and clean-energy investments, 25 percent for clean water and healthy forests, and 5 percent for communities. Hal Bernton reports. (Seattle Times)

'Puget Sound Energy - In a climate changing world what fuel will you use?'
Like all for-profit utilities, Puget Sound Energy, is required to file an energy resource plan with the Utilities and Transportation Commission every two years outlining how it will meet future energy needs. The most recent plan doesn't sit well with those who testified at a recent public hearing. They say the plan is a blueprint to lock 1.1 million customers into decades of fossil fuels. PSE says the plan is a mandated regulatory exercise and doesn't predict what energy - coal, gas, wind, hydro – they plan to use past the mid-2020's. Martha Baskin reports. (PRX)

Snowpack Has Drastically Declined In The West This Century
There’s a lot less snow in the western U.S. than there was a century ago. That’s according to new research that found dramatic declines in snowpack as the seasons have gotten warmer. Average snowpack in the West has dropped by up to 30 percent since 1915. To help you visualize that, that’s like permanently draining Nevada’s Lake Mead, the largest man-made reservoir in the country. Researchers said the decline in snowpack is connected to warming temperatures. That could have a big effect on wildlife, agriculture, cities and towns. They depend on snowmelt to supply water during the dry summer and fall months. Courtney Flatt reports. (NWPB/EarthFix)

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Whales
Tucked away inland south of Olympia, Washington, the Skookumchuck salmon hatchery has been raising and releasing juvenile salmon into the wild to shore up the state’s flagging fish populations for the past 38 years. Its efforts have had little to do with the 76 endangered, fish-eating southern resident killer whales (SRKW) that live in the northeast Pacific, straddling the border between Washington and British Columbia. But if a new bill working its way through the Washington State legislature gets the go-ahead, Skookumchuck will soon turn part of its gaze from raising salmon for fishers, to breeding salmon to feed the struggling whales. It’s an ambitious and expensive plan—and its success is far from guaranteed. John Stang reports. (Hakai Magazine)

Conservationists call for emergency order to save B.C.'s killer whales
Several conservation groups say the federal government's failure to issue an emergency order reducing threats to endangered orcas off the B.C. coast this year could mean the species' extinction.The organizations say Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna have not recommended an immediate emergency cabinet order which could establish priority feeding refuges, restrict fishing and reduce speed limits for commercial vessels this year. (Canadian Press)

DFO shuts down fishery, citing First Nations reconciliation
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has agreed to cancel this year’s commercial roe herring fishery on B.C.’s central coast, citing the federal government’s commitment to reconciliation with First Nations. The Heiltsuk First Nation and DFO officials were unable to come to a “shared understanding” about the health of the local herring stock. Herring biomass — a measure of health and abundance — has “flatlined” on the central coast, said Kelly Brown, director of the Heiltsuk Integrated Resource Management Department. Co-management of the fishery must take into account the “Heiltsuk’s traditional knowledge of the ecosystem,” according to the announcement. Randy Shore reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Oil Was Central in Decision to Shrink Bears Ears Monument, Emails Show
Even before President Trump officially opened his high-profile review last spring of federal lands protected as national monuments, the Department of Interior was focused on the potential for oil and gas exploration at a protected Utah site, internal agency documents show. The debate started as early as March 2017, when an aide to Senator Orrin Hatch, Republican of Utah, asked a senior Interior Department official to consider shrinking Bears Ears National Monument in the southeastern corner of the state. Under a longstanding program in Utah, oil and natural gas deposits within the boundaries of the monument could have been used to raise revenue for public schools had the land not been under federal protection. Eric Lipton and Lisa Friedman report. (NY Times)

Vancouver Park Board challenges court ruling that struck down cetacean ban
The battle over keeping cetaceans in captivity was reignited Friday after the Vancouver Park Board announced it had filed an appeal of a B.C. Supreme Court decision that found it did not have the authority to impose a ban on whales, dolphins and porpoises at the city's aquarium. In a statement released Friday, the park board said it is challenging the Feb. 9 court ruling, which found the board lacks the jurisdiction to enforce the ban. The Vancouver Park Board claims the ruling could have far-reaching impacts on its own legislative power. (CBC)

How oil spills are spotted in B.C.
Six days a week, a large red airplane scours British Columbia's coast — on the lookout for oil spills. Transport Canada's National Aerial Surveillance Program (NASP) operates two of the red Dash 8 airplanes, one of which is stationed in B.C. The federal department is responsible for preventing pollution from ships. and the surveillance program helps detect spills…. Originally designed as a commuter plane, this particular Dash 8 has been modified to fly slow and bank at a 45-degree angle — manoeuvrability that is needed to spot pollution. (CBC)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  253 AM PST Mon Mar 5 2018  
TODAY
 SW wind to 10 kt. Wind waves 1 ft or less. W swell 5 ft  at 15 seconds. A chance of showers.
TONIGHT  Light wind becoming SE to 10 kt after midnight. Wind  waves 1 ft or less. W swell 5 ft at 13 seconds. A slight chance  of showers in the evening.

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