Thursday, March 8, 2018

3/8 Whiting, oil safety, no to coast drilling, Salish Sea protection, fish farming on land, BC LNG, helping WDFW, PA bag ban, Tony Tooke quits

Pacific whiting (hake) [PHOTO: NOAA Fisheries]
Pacific Whiting (Hake) Merluccius productus
Pacific whiting, or hake, is a prevalent fish species found off the West Coast of the United States and Canada. There are three stocks of Pacific whiting: a migratory coastal stock, ranging from southern Baja California to Queen Charlotte Sound; a central-south Puget Sound stock; and a Strait of Georgia stock. While the status of the latter stocks has declined considerably, the coastal stock remains large and is the most abundant commercial fish stock on the Pacific Coast. Setting harvest levels of coastal Pacific whiting is accomplished through a bilateral agreement between the United States and Canada, known as the Pacific Whiting Treaty. Traditionally, domestic commercial fishermen harvested whiting with midwater trawl gear between May and September along northern California, Oregon, and Washington. The Makah Tribe also has an active fishery for whiting entirely within their usual and accustomed fishing grounds off the Olympic coast. (NOAA Fisheries)

Washington Legislature OKs bill to boost oil safety measures
The Washington Legislature has passed a measure that aims to boost safety around the transportation of oil in the state. The House on Wednesday approved the bill on a 62-35 vote. It earlier cleared the Senate and now heads to Gov. Jay Inslee. The bill extends the state’s oil barrel tax to pipelines. That tax pays for spill response and prevention measures and currently applies to oil received by train or vessels. The measure also directs state regulators to address the risks of certain types of oil that sink or submerge as well as to study ways to reduce oil risks in Puget Sound. (Associated Press)

West Coast, East Coast, Gulf lawmakers agree: No drilling
A cross-country group of 227 legislators, representing 17 coastal states, delivered a blunt message Monday to U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke:  The Trump administration's planned offshore oil and gas leasing will hurt our economies and our environment. They applauded Zinke for removing Florida's coasts from the program, which would allow drilling in more than 90 percent of America's Outer Continental Shelf waters. "Given that one state has been removed from the program, we strongly urge you to grant other states the same opportunity to protect their economy and coastal and marine resources," said the lawmakers' letter. The letter, signed by 45 members of the Washington Legislature, was drafted by State Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas, and California Senate President Kevin de Leon. Joel Connelly reports. (SeattlePI.Com) See also: 'Drill Baby Drill': Trump speeds oil leasing in Arctic Refuge  Joel Connelly reports. (SeattlePI.Com)

Ranker Salish Sea Protection Bill Heads to House
The Orca Whale Protection Act (SB 5886) passed the Senate 34-15. This legislation bolsters orca protection laws by requiring boats to give orcas an adequate buffer. The new laws are intended to decrease noise pollution. The bill also provides funding for improved education and enforcement by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and calls for a trans-boundary discussion of orca whale protection and preservation. A $5 increase for an endangered wildlife special license plate helps fund the efforts.
The Salish Sea Protection Act (SB 6269) passed the Senate 42-7. This legislation will provide additional funding for Washington state oil spill prevention and response activities, update our geographical response plans, and provide funding to research and make recommendations for both tug escorts and a stationed, rescue tug for all vessels carrying large quantities of oil across the Salish Sea. It calls for a significant increase in coordination with our Canadian neighbors. Both bills now head to the House of Representatives for further consideration. (From Senator Kevin Ranker)

B.C. government 'very interested' in moving open-net fish farms onto land, minister says
The B.C. minister in charge of aquaculture tenures for the province is hinting at a sea change in the provincial government's approach to Atlantic salmon farming in Pacific waters. Doug Donaldson, the B.C. minister of Forest, Land and Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, says the provincial government can't ban open-net fish farms -— as Washington state did last week — because they are regulated by the federal government. However, with provincial tenures for 22 fish farms coming up for renewal in June, the minister said the provincial government's vision for the future includes moving them out of the ocean and into land-based operations, wherever possible. Deborah Wilson reports. (CBC)

Australian LNG company pulls out of project near Prince Rupert, B.C.
Woodside Petroleum, Australia's leading liquefied natural gas producer, says it's pulling out of an LNG export plant north of Prince Rupert, B.C., so it can concentrate on another LNG site near Kitimat. The company has announced it won't renew an agreement to develop the North Coast operation at Grassy Point after the rights to the region expired in mid-January. (CBC)

Wait is over for tufted puffin
Too many possible endangered species, too little time. That’s the reality at Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, where staff are assessing candidates for the state’s endangered species list, according to Joe Gaydos, science director of the SeaDoc Society. Staff at SeaDoc, a scientific nonprofit based on Orcas Island, has stepped in to ease the burden of the agency’s backlogged candidates by writing reports needed to decide if species will be classified as threatened or endangered. WDFW, said Gaydos, is underfunded and understaffed, so SeaDoc raised private funds to hire a scientist to help write reports, normally done by state employees, in a one-of-a-kind relationship. “This is a public-private partnership that hasn’t been done anywhere else in the country,” he said. Hayley Day reports. (Islands Sounder)

Port Angeles council considers plastic bag ban
The Port Angeles City Council has conducted a first reading on a proposal to ban single-use plastic bags at stores within the city. A 5-2 majority of the council said Tuesday they were inclined to support a revised version of the ordinance when it comes to a vote later this month. The council will conduct a second public hearing on the plastic bag ordinance before taking action March 20. The hearing will begin at 6:30 p.m. or soon thereafter in the City Council chambers at City Hall, 321 E. Fifth St. Rob Ollikainen reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

U.S. Forest Service Chief Resigns Amid Sexual Harassment Accusations
The head of the United States Forest Service stepped down Wednesday amid an investigation into sexual harassment accusations against him, a spokesman for the Agriculture Department said. The resignation of the agency’s chief, Tony Tooke, comes days after “PBS NewsHour” reported that the Agriculture Department was investigating sexual misconduct complaints against him, including that Mr. Tooke had relationships with subordinates before his appointment to the top role. Emily Baumgaertner reports. (NY Times)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  205 AM PST Thu Mar 8 2018  
 E wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. W swell 4 ft  at 15 seconds. Rain.
 W wind 20 to 30 kt. Wind waves 3 to 5 ft. SW swell  9 ft at 12 seconds. Showers in the evening then scattered showers  after midnight.

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