Sablefish are commonly caught off the Washington coast by commercial harvesters using otter-trawls, jig handline, and longline gear. Juveniles are occasionally caught by recreational harvesters in Puget Sound, which is a sablefish nursery. They range from Japan north into the Bering Sea and south through Alaska and British Columbia to Mexico, with highest concentrations in Alaska. Sablefish are wide-ranging and often migratory. Adults can be found on mud bottom in depths of 300 to 1,500 m (984-4,900 ft). Sablefish can live to at least 90 years. (WDFW)
Fish and Wildlife can regulate land to protect fish
Washington's Department of Fish and Wildlife can regulate construction on dry land if the agency decides fish may be affected, the state Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday. The court rejected a lawsuit by five counties that alleged Fish and Wildlife was overstepping its authority by requiring local governments to get permits from the agency to build and maintain bridges that span but do not touch water. More broadly, the decision affirms Fish and Wildlife's jurisdiction over a host of activities on public and private land, such as clearing brush, maintaining dikes and stabilizing river banks. Critics, including some farm and landowner groups, say the department's reach threatens the use of private property. Dan Jenkins reports. (Capital Press)
Trump Prepares to Unveil a Vast Reworking of Clean Water Protections
The Trump administration is expected on Tuesday to unveil a plan that would weaken federal clean water rules designed to protect millions of acres of wetlands and thousands of miles of streams nationwide from pesticide runoff and other pollutants. Environmentalists say the proposal represents a historic assault on wetlands regulation at a moment when Mr. Trump has repeatedly voiced a commitment to “crystal-clean water.” The proposed new rule would chip away at safeguards put in place a quarter century ago, during the administration of President George H.W. Bush, who implemented a policy designed to ensure that no wetlands lost federal protection. Coral Davenport reports. (NY Times)
County plan gives rural residents well water access
Skagit County debuted a process Monday that makes it possible for all rural residents to have access to well water. In a presentation to the state water availability task force, Skagit County Commissioner Lisa Janicki said the county will issue building permits to residential well users who are willing to install a tank that stores rainwater, then put the water back into the ground, thereby mitigating water used. Will Honea, senior deputy civil prosecuting attorney with the county, said the county started working on this plan in January, soon before Skagit County was left out of a piece of state water availability legislation that is often called the Hirst Fix. Brandon Stone reports. (Skagit Valley Heald)
Major funding advances for restoration projects in Hood Canal region
More than $20 million in ecosystem-restoration projects along the Skokomish River in Southern Hood Canal could be under construction within two years, thanks to special funding approved by the Army Corps of Engineers. Meanwhile, Washington state’s Salmon Recovery Funding Board announced this morning that it would provide $18 million for salmon restoration projects statewide — including a portion of the funding needed to purchase nearly 300 acres near the mouth of Big Beef Creek in Kitsap County. The Army Corps of Engineers has secured $13.6 million in federal funds for restoration on 277 acres in the Skokomish River watershed. Included in the work are levee removals, wetland restoration and installation of large-woody debris, said Mike Anderson, chairman of the Skokomish Watershed Action Team, known as SWAT. About $7 million in state matching funds is moving toward approval in the next Legislative session. Chris Dunagan reports. (Watching Our Water Ways)
Electric ferries, no more coal power: After carbon-fee defeat, Inslee rolls out clean-energy proposals
Rebounding from the defeat of a carbon-fee initiative he strongly backed, Gov. Jay Inslee is proposing a suite of state legislation to fight climate change, including a plan to rid electric utilities of fossil fuel-generated power by 2045. Calling his proposals “a clean energy smart deal” during a news conference Monday in Seattle, Inslee said they would put Washington on track to meet a target in state law of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2035. Other proposals in Inslee’s legislative package include phasing out “super-pollutant” hydrofluorocarbons used in air conditioning, a clean-fuels standard targeting auto emissions, incentives for electric vehicles and increased energy-efficiency regulations for buildings. Jim Brunner reports. (Seattle Times)
The Arctic’s Warmest 5 Years on Record: 2014-Present
The Arctic has been warmer over the last five years than at any time since records began in 1900, and the region is warming at twice the rate as the rest of the planet, scientists said Tuesday. The rising air temperatures are having profound effects on sea ice, and on life on land and in the ocean, the scientists said. The changes can be felt far beyond the region, especially since the changing Arctic climate may be influencing extreme weather events around the world. Those assessments were part of the latest “Arctic Report Card,” issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a federal agency, and presented Tuesday at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in Washington. John Schwartz reports. (NY Times)
Trump Team Pushes Fossil Fuels at Climate Talks. Protests Erupt, but Allies Emerge, Too.
Trump administration officials at high-stakes climate talks here offered an unapologetic defense of fossil fuels on Monday, arguing that a rapid retreat from coal, oil and gas was unrealistic. While that stance brought scorn from environmentalists and countries that favor stronger action to fight global warming, there are signs that the administration is finding a receptive audience among other major fossil-fuel producers, including Russia, Saudi Arabia and Australia. Brad Plumer and Lisa Friedman report. (NY Times) See also: Trump’s missed opportunity on coal and climate change Amy Harder reports. (Axios)
Climate data helping guide Skagit Land Trust
The Skagit Land Trust has made climate change part of its conservation strategy that guides the trust on which lands to protect to provide the most benefit to the community and area wildlife. Skagit Land Trust Conservation Project Manager Kari Odden said the local nonprofit has included climate change in the organization’s conservation strategy since 2014. But the emergence in recent years of local data on sea level rise, groundwater availability and species’ habitat needs has helped the land trust better evaluate lands through the lens of climate change. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)
First Nations lobbying for lift on tanker ban off B.C.’s coast
Several Indigenous groups across Western Canada are backing a First Nations-led pipeline proposal that has received the endorsement of Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and which they say would serve as an alternative to the imperilled Trans Mountain expansion. However, a federal law making its way through the Senate would legislate a ban on oil-tanker traffic off of British Columbia’s North Coast and would quash their hopes for future development. Such a law, they argue, would be a violation of their Indigenous rights. The clashing interests of First Nations looking at pipelines as an economic lifeline while other Indigenous groups oppose tanker traffic on environmental grounds will leave Prime Minister Justin Trudeau facing a dilemma before next year’s federal election. The proposed tanker ban has already raised the ire of political leaders in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Justin Giovannetti reports. (Globe and Mail)
Turtles’ Tummies Found Clogged with Plastic
Tiny pieces of plastic in the ocean are killing juvenile loggerhead turtles, a new study shows, threatening the survival of the endangered species. Wind, waves, and sunshine break down discarded plastic—from water bottles to fishing gear—into tiny pieces. About 90 percent of the estimated 150 million tonnes of plastic that litters the ocean measures less than five millimeters across, or about half the width of a pinky finger. Plastic like this can now be found littering a brown seaweed called sargassum, in which loggerhead turtles forage for food. Allison Salerno reports. (Hakai Magazine)
New alert system warns large ships of nearby whales off B.C. coast
A new alert system is launching off B.C.'s coast to warn large vessels about nearby whales, with the aim of reducing the number hit by boats.... With more than 10,000 large vessels sailing through local waters each year, it's these kinds of collisions that experts are trying to reduce with the new Whale Report Alert System.... The new alert warns ships by text message of any whales spotted in the previous three hours within 10 nautical miles (18.5 kilometres) of the vessel. Ship captains can see the location of the whale on a map, with details about the sighting. Clare Hennig reports. (CBC)
Scientists help hatchery salmon find the sweet smell of home
Apparently, salmon don’t like the smell of watercress. The aroma of shrimp doesn’t pique their interest either. And the fragrance eau de steelhead? A definite no-go. “The fish did not like it at all. We tried. They did not like it,” said Oregon State University researcher Maryam Kamran. “They’re very picky.” It turns out this could be helpful information to know when you’re trying to figure out how to keep salmon raised in hatcheries from interbreeding with wild fish — a phenomenon called “straying.” Yes Burns reports. (Crosscut)
Hungry great blue herons in Stanley Park eating young salmon
The excrement of great blue herons in Stanley Park has produced the equivalent of scientific gold. The findings are part of the first study to show that herons eat so many young salmon, or smolts, that they should be considered predators of the fish in the wild. “The most interesting part is to confirm that herons are a significant predator of migrating salmon smolts,” said Zachary Sherker, a masters of science student at the University of B.C. In the summer of 2017, Sherker went to the heron rookery by the tennis courts in the park with a mobile detector looking for passive integrated transponders or PIT tags. Each tag is a thin glass tube with a microchip about 12 mm in length. They’ve been placed in the stomach of salmon in the Capilano River since 2008. Sherker found about 600 tags underneath the heron nests in the bird’s excrement. Kevin Griffin reports. (Vancouver Sun)
Northwest Watershed Institute study suggests reason behind eagle gathering at Dabob Bay
Why do eagles gather along more than a mile of shoreline in east Dabob Bay on Hood Canal, and what is the impact of human interference and commercial aquaculture operations on that habitat? Peter Bahls, aquatic ecologist and executive director of the Northwest Watershed Institute (NWI) set out to answer those questions. The study suggests that the eagles gather in large numbers on tidelands between the months of May and July to feed on spawning plainfin midshipman (porichthys notatus), a bottom dwelling fish that lives in ocean depths of nearly 1,000 feet along the Pacific coast. In the spring, the fish migrate up from the depths to the intertidal zone to spawn. Researchers found that the Dabob Bay eagles were hunting midshipmen under clumps of oysters or in rocks. Foraging was tied closely to the tidal cycle, with gatherings occurring in larger numbers during low tides and more fish captured during outgoing tides. Jeannie McMacken reports. (Peninsula Daily News)
Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca- 157 AM PST Tue Dec 11 2018
GALE WARNING IN EFFECT UNTIL 1 PM PST THIS AFTERNOON
TODAY SW wind 20 to 30 kt. Wind waves 3 to 5 ft. NW swell 11 ft at 10 seconds. Rain.
TONIGHT W wind 20 to 30 kt becoming 20 to 25 kt after midnight. Wind waves 3 to 5 ft. NW swell 12 ft at 11 seconds building to 14 ft at 12 seconds after midnight. Rain.
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