Thursday, February 28, 2019

2/28 Clingfish, salmon returns, orca protection, Ancient Forest Park, clam farming, EPA enforcement, samurai wasp, HI climate change

Northern clingfish [CalPhoto/UCBerkeley]
Northern clingfish Gobiesox maeandricus
Large adhesive disk beneath body. Tadpole shape from above or below.... Common in tide pools or in rocky areas; clings to underside of rocks or to kelp. Feeds on limpets and other mollusks, amphipods, isopods and mysids. In late winter to early spring, female attaches concentric rings of yellow eggs to undersides of rock. Male guards egg mass. Southeastern Alaska to southern California. (Marine Wildlife of Puget Sound, the San Juans, and the Strait of Georgia)

Most Washington state salmon returns predicted to be worse than last year, estimates show
A lean year for orcas and fishermen alike is expected, with poor salmon returns forecast for many species all over the state. Fisheries professionals are working to set fishing seasons on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border for the coming year. So far the news is grim, with salmon forecast to return at just fractions of 10-year averages. For the southern residents, it will be another tough year ahead, with even fewer fish forecast this year than last in many of the important rivers the whales rely on in their seasonal migratory rounds. Below-average returns are predicted from the Fraser to the Columbia, as well as smaller body sizes for most species, according to Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Returns of spring chinook to the Columbia are predicted to be down 14 percent from last year, and at just half the 10-year average. These fish return mostly to hatcheries, but also to some spawning areas above Bonneville dam, and are a mainstay for orcas and fishermen alike. Those fish are particularly important to endangered southern-resident killer whales because of their size, fat content and seasonal timing. Upriver bright and fall chinook returns to the Columbia are also at about half the 10-year average return. The news isn’t better in Puget Sound. Only 29,800 wild chinook are predicted to come back. Protecting those fragile runs will necessitate reductions in fishing of hatchery fish to reduce the unintentional killing of wild chinook. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

Orca groups call for immediate action to save Southern Residents
On Tuesday, the group sent a letter to government officials in Washington and British Columbia identifying their five key actions to help save the Southern Resident orcas. The letter calls for “bigger and bolder” actions to give the whales a “real chance at recovery.”... The actions include funding for international salmon habitat restoration projects, breaching the four Lower Snake River dams, replacing and retrofitting floodgates along the Fraser River in British Columbia, cleaning up known contamination hotspots in Puget Sound and the Fraser River delta, and allocating a fisheries quota for the Southern Residents on the West Coast. While some of the actions have been proposed during orca recovery efforts, others have not been seriously addressed. The organizations say their five actions are “big-ticket, science-based, and are essential for moving forward.” (KING)

B.C. Parks seeks public comment over plans to protect centuries-old Ancient Forest
The province is seeking British Columbians' help to to put together new management plan to protect the only inland temperate rainforest in the world: the Ancient Forest.The Ancient Forest Park, or Chun T'oh Wudujut in the local Lheidli language, is located 120 kilometres east of Prince George. A portion of the area, full of giant trees that have stood for centuries, is in a protected area already.... B.C. Parks is working on a plan to protect it because of both the forest's ecological value and importance to First Nations. The management plan is still in the initial stages and is open to public comment until the end of March. Clare Hennig · CBC

Indigenous clam farming technology is as old as Egyptian pyramids
Before the ancient Egyptians built the last of the pyramids, indigenous people along the coast of B.C. were also engineering and building stone structures that would last for thousands of years, a new study shows. Clam gardens are undersea walls built to create terraces on the beach at just the right water level to create the ideal habitat for shellfish such as clams. The technology allows far more shellfish to be produced and harvested along a given stretch of coastline, especially when combined with other traditional management techniques, such as removal of larger clams. Now, Canadian researchers have confirmed that the technology, which is still used along the B.C. coast today, is extremely ancient. Emily Chung reports. (CBC)

Is the EPA 'Soft on Environmental Violators'? The Data Suggests Yes; the Agency Says No
Several independent reports agree: Many measures of the Environmental Protection Agency's policing of polluters hit historic lows last year, including the number of inspections the agency conducted, the number of civil cases it opened and concluded, the value of pollution controls it required of companies that broke the law, and the value of penalties it imposed on lawbreakers. The EPA's own annual report of its performance shows these trends. At a hearing on Tuesday, however, an enforcement official from the EPA argued that these numbers aren't important. She said she's working on alternative measures that will better reflect what her office does to ensure mines, factories, and pipelines follow America's environmental laws. Francie Diep reports. (Pacific Standard)

Code of the samurai wasp: Destroy invasive stink bugs
Its name sounds dangerous — the samurai wasp — but the tiny invasive parasite's appearance in Canada for the first time may not actually be a bad thing. The wasp lays its eggs inside the eggs of another invasive insect, the brown marmorated stink bug, killing the embryo. For its part, the stink bug's arrival in Canada in recent years is definitely a bad thing — it dines on tree fruits, hazelnuts and berries, and can have devastating effects for farmers. Rafferty Baker reports. (CBC)

Key to coping with climate change lies in Hawaii’s past, study finds
As climate change promises to alter our world in the coming decades, a new study suggests that Hawaii would be wise to look to traditional Native Hawaiian agriculture to help cope with an uncertain future. In a scientific paper by researchers from Kamehameha Schools, the University of Hawaii at Manoa and the U.S. Geological Survey, indigenous agriculture was found to have the potential to play a major role in feeding Hawaii in the years to come. It turns out traditional agriculture is resilient and capable of remaining viable even under the most severe future climate scenarios, according to the study to be published next month in the journal Nature Sustainability. Timothy Hurley reports. (Star Advertiser)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  233 AM PST Thu Feb 28 2019   
 S wind 5 to 15 kt becoming E in the afternoon. Wind  waves 2 ft or less. W swell 6 ft at 17 seconds. A chance of  showers in the morning then a slight chance of showers in the  afternoon. 
 E wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell  6 ft at 15 seconds.

"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2019

2/27 Ducks, public lands bill, orca protection, Mackay Cr spill, methane-snacking crabs Tarika Powell

PHOTO: Mary Ann Christman/BirdNote
Big Ducks, Small Ducks, and the Economy of Nesting
Ducks that start laying eggs soon after arriving at a suitable nest site are sometimes called “capital” breeders, because they carry with them, in their bodies, all the food and fat reserves they need to begin nesting when they arrive. “Income” breeders arrive at their nesting sites after a long migration, hungry and ready to chow down. It’s only after the female has gained enough of a nutrient “income” that she’ll be ready to lay her first clutch of eggs. Mallards — like the female seen here — may have enough energy stored up to lay a first clutch of eggs. (BirdNote)

Massive public-lands bill passes Congress with big implications for Washington state
The House passed the bill, 363-62, on Tuesday. It includes several provisions that will impact Washington state. Evan Bush reports. (Seattle Times) See also: Protections For Devil's Staircase, Other NW Areas Sent To Trump For Signature  Jess Burns reports. (OPB)

Compromise on orca protection removes whale watching moratorium, garners criticism
A de facto ban on whale watching boats that would have required them to stay 650 yards away from endangered Puget Sound orcas for three to five years has been stripped from revised legislation. The compromise goes against a recommendation from Gov. Jay Inslee’s Orca Recovery Task Force.... The compromise legislation omits the de facto moratorium detailed in prior bills, but increases the distance all boats must keep from the endangered whales from 200 to 300 yards. It also creates a go-slow zone and a new licensing system under which the state Department of Fish and Wildlife can set conditions to limit things such as boat numbers or time spent with the whales. That’s not enough for some advocates, including Janet Thomas, executive director of the Orca Relief Citizens' Alliance. She told lawmakers the compromise makes a “mockery” of what the task force recommended. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KNDX)

Vacuum trucks suck 49,000 litres of oily water from storm sewer to save salmon 
More than 49,000 litres of oily water have been vacuumed out of the storm sewer system near Mackay Creek in North Vancouver after an oil spill was spotted in the fish-bearing creek last Friday. Several environmental groups alerted city and district officials about the spill which ended up being "fairly significant," according to Richard Boase, manager of environmental sustainability with the District of North Vancouver. Investigators have identified the source but are not making it public until the investigation is complete. Yvette Brend reports. (CBC)

Methane-snacking crabs suggest they are adapting to climate change 
Crabs that have a normal diet of a type of plankton have been seen munching on methane-filled bacteria off British Columbia’s coast in what experts say could be their way of adapting to climate change. Researchers with Oceans Networks Canada, an initiative of the University of Victoria and Oregon State University, discovered the snow crabs using other food sources because their main meal may be disappearing with a warmer climate. The crabs were previously thought to exclusively eat phytoplankton and researchers say this is the first evidence that a commercial species is finding some of its nutrition from other food sources. (Canadian Press)

A researcher's crusade against fossil fuels began in the segregated South
A science camp in the Ozarks spun Sightline Institute's Tarika Powell into a lifelong career of environmental education and advocacy. Manola Secaira reports. (Crosscut)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  300 AM PST Wed Feb 27 2019   
 E wind 20 to 30 kt becoming SE 15 to 25 kt in the  afternoon. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. W swell 4 ft at 14 seconds. 
 S wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell  4 ft at 18 seconds. A slight chance of showers.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2019

2/26 Nettles, salmon secrets, WA power grid, ferry noise, WA clean fuels, Seattle Weekly

Stinging nettle [Wikipedia]
Stinging nettle Urtica dioica
The stinging hairs are hollow and each arises from a gland containing formic acid. As the brittle tips are broken, acid is secreted causing an irritating rash on contact with the skin. Nevertheless, the leaves can be cooked and eaten as greens when young. Called 'Indian spinach,' the young leaves and stems were eaten by both coastal and interior tribes, but it is questionable whether this was a traditional use or whether it was introduced by Europeans. The plants were, however, an important source of fibre for making fish nets, snares and tumplines. (Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast)

Secret Lives of Salmon: There’s more than one kind of fish in the sea
Scientists aboard the Russian research vessel Kaganovsky didn’t really know what to expect when they dropped their net in the Gulf of Alaska, but the ocean delivered a smorgasbord. Two test sets in coastal waters yielded three species of squid and assorted fin fish but no salmon, according to Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) researcher Chrys Neville. “It felt like a party where everyone was congregated in the kitchen, except instead of holding drinks, we had forceps, measuring boards, data sheets, sampling bags and vials in our hands,” said Laurie Weitkamp, a biologist at the Northwest Fisheries Science Center.... Weitkamp and Neville and 19 other scientists from around the Pacific Rim are aboard the Kaganovsky for a five-week grid search of the Gulf, where they hope to learn about the secret lives of the five Pacific salmon species during their years in the open ocean. Randy Shore continues to follow an international coalition of scientists investigating the mysteries of a troubled resource. (Vancouver Sun)

What Washington’s fight over climate-friendly power grid is all about
Washington legislators are moving to reshape the state’s electricity grid in a dramatic way that favors renewable energy over the next three decades, and environmentalists are rejoicing that climate change is finally a top legislative priority. And with climate-focused Gov. Jay Inslee urging action by like-minded Democrats in charge of the Legislature, passage seems likely for legislation aimed at reducing the effect of Washington’s electric grid on global warming.... Yet, private utilities, Republican lawmakers and others skeptical of the greenhouse gas cuts envisioned by Democrats are urging a go-slow approach. The question is whether they can secure some leeway in deadlines to cut off climate-warming emissions. Brad Shannon and Robert McClure report. (Investigate West)

B.C.’s ferry services, whale watching threaten endangered whales, National Energy Board says
The B.C. government will continue with plans to expand its ferry routes even though the National Energy Board concluded last week that ship noise, including that generated by BC Ferries, is threatening the endangered southern resident killer whales. The NEB is recommending noise reduction measures for the B.C. government’s ferry fleet to help offset the impact on the endangered whales of increased oil tanker traffic associated with the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. But the B.C. government says connecting coastal communities is more important than shipping more Alberta oil through the Salish Sea. Justine Hunter reports. (Globe and Mail)

Washington Clean Fuels Bill Clears Its 1st Big Hurdle
Washington could soon join the ranks of its West Coast neighbors, requiring fuels at the pump that produce less carbon pollution. A low-carbon fuels bill passed its first big test Monday, moving out of the House Appropriations Committee. Democrats passed the bill with a 19-14 party-line vote. It now heads to the full House. Supporters said the fossil fuel-based gas and diesel you put in the tank of your car or truck are the biggest sources of greenhouse gasses and air pollution in the state. Opponents said the requirement to use more plant-based or bio-fuel to replace or blend with petroleum fuels could end up costing you more at the pump. And that could place a disproportionate burden on rural and low-income drivers and farmers. Courtney Flatt reports. (NW Public Broadcasting)

Seattle Weekly to cease print publication
Sixteen months after the Seattle Weekly laid off most of its staff in a Hail Mary effort to remain viable, the paper will publish its final printed issue this week, according to multiple sources. The decision ends a more than 40-year run of city and regional coverage and leaves Seattle without a true alternative weekly. The decision to close the paper comes at the end of the fiscal year for Sound Publishing, which publishes 49 papers around the region and 17 in King County, including the Weekly. Seattle Weekly's final paper will hit stands this Wednesday, Feb. 27. Three staff members have been let go.  In a statement to Crosscut, President and Publisher of Sound Publishing Josh O'Connor said the Weekly will switch to "web only" format beginning March 1. The company will retain two employees to manage the website as well as a "multimedia sales consultant." The content will be all freelance work, plus crossposts from the company's other papers. David Kroman reports.

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  301 AM PST Tue Feb 26 2019   
 E wind 20 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. SW swell 3 ft  at 9 seconds. 
 E wind 20 to 30 kt. Wind waves 3 to 5 ft. W swell 3 ft  at 11 seconds.

"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Monday, February 25, 2019

2/25 Osprey, BC pipe, dirty money, salmon woes, Skagit growth, BC scallops, sea star deaths, climate change, megaquake

Osprey [Audubon Field Guide]
Osprey Pandion haliaetus
A very distinctive fish-hawk, formerly classified with other hawks but now placed in a separate family of its own. Along coastlines, lakes, and rivers almost worldwide, the Osprey is often seen flying over the water, hovering, and then plunging feet-first to catch fish in its talons. After a successful strike, the bird rises heavily from the water and flies away, carrying the fish head-forward with its feet. Bald Eagles sometimes chase Ospreys and force them to drop their catch. In many regions, landowners put up poles near the water to attract nesting Ospreys. (Audubon Field Guide)

National Energy Board says Trans Mountain project should be approved
The National Energy Board delivered its reconsideration report to the federal government Friday with an overall recommendation that the Trans Mountain Expansion Project is in the Canadian public interest and should be approved. The $9.3-billion pipeline expansion would twin the existing 1,150-kilometre pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby, built in 1953, and nearly triple capacity. Tanker traffic from the Burnaby terminal on the Burrard Inlet is estimated to increase from 60 tankers a year to more than 400. The NEB is recommending the project be approved subject to 16 new conditions, in addition to the 156 conditions it had proposed in its previous recommendation. The report starts the clock on a 90-day period for the federal government to decide whether the project should proceed. Scott Brown reports. (Vancouver Sun) See: A look at 16 new recommendations for Ottawa on the Trans Mountain pipeline  (Canadian Press)  See also: Trans Mountain pipeline expansion gets green light from Canadian energy board  Lynda Makes reports. (Seattle Times)

B.C. constitutional challenge of Alberta’s fuel restriction law tossed
A court challenge by the British Columbia government over Alberta’s fuel restriction law has been shot down by a Calgary judge who said B.C. took the case to court prematurely.... Alberta brought the legislation in amidst extreme tension with B.C. over John Horgan government’s opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline. Under the act, Alberta Energy Minister Margaret McCuaig-Boyd can decide if a company needs an export licence to send oil and gas outside Alberta’s borders — and it’s up to her whether or not she’ll grant one. The legal action said Alberta’s law was unconstitutional because it intended to punish B.C. by limiting exports of fuel products. On Friday, Calgary Justice R.J. Hall struck down the challenge because the law had not yet been proclaimed and is unenforceable. Trevor Robb reports. (Edmonton Journal)

Polluted by Money- How corporate cash corrupted one of the greenest states in America
Oregon once aimed to be the greenest state in America. Its leaders adopted the nation’s first bottle deposit. They controlled urban sprawl. They declared ocean beaches public property. But in the last four years, Oregon’s most powerful industries have killed, weakened or stalled efforts to deal with climate change, wolf recovery, disappearing bird habitat, cancer-causing diesel exhaust, dwindling groundwater, industrial air pollution, oil spill planning and weed killers sprayed from helicopters. What changed Oregon? Money. Lots and lots of money. Rob Davis reports. (The Oregonian)

HUNGER: The decline of salmon adds to the struggle of Puget Sound's orcas
HOSTILE WATERS, Part 3: Twin monarchs of the Pacific Northwest, chinook salmon and southern resident orcas, are struggling for survival after a century of habitat losses. From the Pacific to the inland waters of Puget Sound and its freshwater rivers, the changes have outpaced adaptation. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

DFO buried scientists’ concerns about endangered steelhead, B.C. deputy minister says
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) suppressed elements of a scientific assessment that could have led to stronger protections for a steelhead population on the brink of extinction, according to a letter written by B.C. Deputy Minister of the Environment Mark Zacharias. DFO unilaterally changed the conclusions to “support status-quo commercial salmon harvesting” in a report based on a stock assessment of the Interior Fraser steelhead, reads the letter sent to federal Deputy Minister of the Environment Stephen Lucas. The changes could also affect Environment Minister Catherine McKenna’s decision on whether to protect the stock now at “imminent risk of extinction” under the Species at Risk Act (SARA). Randy Shore reports. (Vancouver Sun)

County poised to make decision on growth in rural Skagit County
A proposal to allow for urban communities in rural Skagit County is in front of the county commissioners for a fourth time. Called fully contained communities, such developments allow for urban-density growth in rural areas but lack their own governments. The request to allow for such communities comes again from Skagit Partners, a company owned by developer Bill Sygitowicz. He envisions a community called Avalon north of Burlington. In concept, Avalon would allow up to 8,500 people — or about 3,500 homes — to exist on 1,244 acres surrounding Avalon Golf Links. Brandon Stone reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Introducing Prince Rupert: Scallop capital of the continent?
Coastal Shellfish, a First Nations-owned company, cracked open the scallop market this week with the first commercial sales from its processing plant in Prince Rupert. Those leading the burgeoning industry say they have high hopes the move will mean a new economic opportunity for the city and the Coast Tsimshian people. The company has already been selling scallop larvae to shellfish farms around North America but now live, adult scallops are available in Prince Rupert. The first buyer was Fukasaku, a local sushi restaurant. Jennifer Wilson reports. (CBC)

What’s killing B.C.’s sea stars?
Warm waters and infectious disease have been determined as the causes of a die-off of sunflower starfish along the Pacific coast, says a recently released study. Sunflower sea stars are among the largest starfish in the world and come in a variety of bright colours, including purple and orange. Some of them grow to more than a metre long and are so quick they “literally run across the seascape,” said Joseph Gaydos, the senior author of the study.... One of the theories put forward by scientists is that an increase in temperature makes the sea stars more susceptible to the disease that was already present, especially since sea stars don’t have complex immune systems, he said. Hina Alam reports. (Canadian Press) See also: West Coast's biggest starfish vanishing amid disease, warming oceans, study finds Lynda Mapes reports. (Phys.Org)

Land trust buys Samish Island property
With the help of about 500 donors including area families, businesses and organizations, Skagit Land Trust is the new owner of property known as the Samish Flower Farm. The land trust announced Wednesday its official purchase of the Samish Island waterfront property. Skagit Land Trust Executive Director Molly Doran said the previous owners kept about 3 acres of the property, including homes, and the land trust purchased the other about 34 acres of undeveloped land. The property, which boasts Padilla Bay beach and mature forest, is called the Samish Flower Farm because it’s where Mary Brown Stewart pioneered tulip farming in the Skagit Valley. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Washington lawmakers wrestle with how to purge greenhouse gases from state power supply
Environmentalists are pushing for 100 percent clean power by 2045, while utilities are wary of the costs and risks of leaving behind all fossil fuel-generated electricity. Hal Bernton reports. (Seattle Times)

White House to set up panel to counter climate change consensus, officials say
The move would be the administration’s most forceful effort to date to challenge the scientific consensus that greenhouse gas emissions are helping drive global warming. “The president wants people to be able to decide for themselves,” a senior administration official said. Juliet Eilperin, Josh Dawsey and Brady Dennis report. (Washington Post)

14 percent chance of megaquake hitting Seattle, experts say
There's a 14 percent chance of a magnitude 9 Cascadia earthquake hitting Seattle in the next 50 years, the U.S. Geological Survey estimates. "Unfortunately, we are unable to "predict" exactly when earthquakes will occur," said Alison Duvall, principal investigator with the University of Washington's M9 project and assistant professor. As part of the M9 project, which studies how shaking would affect the Puget Sound region in future offshore earthquakes and tsunamis, seismologists ran 50 computer simulations of various megaquake earthquake scenarios. Karina Mazhukhina reports. (KOMO)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  300 AM PST Mon Feb 25 2019   
 E wind 20 to 30 kt easing to 15 to 25 kt in the  afternoon. Wind waves 3 to 5 ft. W swell 2 ft at 10 seconds. 
 E wind 5 to 15 kt rising to 15 to 25 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 1 to 2 ft building to 2 to 4 ft after  midnight. W swell 3 ft at 10 seconds.

"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Friday, February 22, 2019

2/22 Greenling, NEB BC pipe report, BC climate budged, hydraulic permits, orca rules, Oly oysters, auto clean air, Inslee Watch

Painted greenling [CalPhoto/UCBerkeley]
Painted Greenling Oxylebius pictus
Painted Greenling range from Kodiak Island to north central Baja, California, and are rare north of Washington. They are found in rocky areas from the intertidal to 49 m (160 ft). Rarely caught by recreational harvesters within Puget Sound and uncommon in coastal waters. (WDFW)

NEB to release new Trans Mountain report on possible marine impacts
The latest chapter in the Trans Mountain pipeline saga will be written Friday as the National Energy Board releases the conditions for proceeding with the contentious project should the federal government choose to do so. It comes nearly six months after a Federal Court of Appeal effectively halted construction of the $7.4-billion pipeline expansion, sending the NEB back to drawing board to assess the impact increased tanker traffic would have on marine life, including the endangered southern resident killer whales. The taxpayer-owned pipeline project aims to ship more diluted bitumen from Alberta's oilsands to tanker terminals in Burnaby, B.C., but it has been met with both political and environmental resistance.The list of conditions and recommendations from the NEB would shape how the project is developed, but the decision on whether to proceed with it still rests with the federal government, which purchased the project last year for $4.5 billion. Most experts anticipate the NEB will again recommend the federal government continue to pursue the project. It will deliver the report at 12:00 p.m. ET. Tony Seskus and Kyle Bakx report. (CBC) See also: More court challenges expected over new Trans Mountain Pipeline decision  Gordon Hoekstra reports. (Vancouver Sun)

B.C. budget: Environmentalists say Clean B.C. cash is a start
With the provincial budget including $902 million for the Clean B.C. initiative the province has taken further steps to deal with climate change, but there’s a long walk ahead, some environmentalists say. “They have checked another box,” said Alan Andrews, climate change director with Ecojustice. “The big question for us is: Are we going to see legislation? Are we going to see laws that hold ministers to account for achieving targets?”  Andrews said the government is to be applauded for doing what it said it would do — fully funding the climate strategy it announced in December. The Clean B.C. program is designed to help the province meet the target of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by 40 per cent by 2030. Over the next three years, the $902 million committed to the program will fund incentives to steer drivers into cleaner vehicles, fund renovations to improve the efficiency of buildings, offer incentives for homeowners to upgrade windows and heating systems, work with First Nations to switch to cleaner energy sources and provide incentives for industry to clean up. Andrew Duffy reports. (Times Colonist)

New ‘civil enforcement’ proposed for violations of hydraulic permits
Concerns about the endangered Southern Resident killer whales seems to be spurring legislative support for new enforcement tools that could be used to protect shoreline habitat. Bills in both the state House and Senate would allow stop-work orders to be issued by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife when shoreline construction is done without permits or exceeds permit conditions. If passed, the law would require that Fish and Wildlife officials first work with contractors and property owners to achieve “voluntary compliance.” Working with property owners is the key, stressed Jeff Davis, deputy director of Fish and Wildlife in charge of habitat protection. Under current law, property owners who commit serious permit violations are charged with criminal misdemeanors. That’s neither good for the agency nor for the property owner, who may end up battling each other in court, said Davis, who once worked as a Fish and Wildlife habitat biologist in Kitsap County. Chris Dunagan reports. (Watching Our Water Ways)

Whale watchers concerned about compromise to save Northwest orcas
New developments surfaced Thursday in the ongoing battle to protect endangered Northwest orcas. A House committee approved a plan to increase the buffer zone between whale watching boats and Southern Resident Killer Whales. It would also make violating state whale watching regulations a crime.  As Captain Pete Hanke readied his boat for the upcoming whale season, he said the future of the whales and his livelihood are at stake.... A three-year moratorium on whale watching of that specific population is among the proposed fixes. Another is moving the buffer zone from 200 to 650 yards. Hanke said whale watch boats are among the orcas' best protectors, alerting other boats to slow down and steer clear. He believes a 650-yard buffer is too big.... The amended bill now goes to the House floor. The fate of the companion Senate bill is unknown but the committee is scheduled to have an executive session on it Friday. Eric Wilkinson reports. (KING)

Return of a native: Olympia oysters are making a comeback
Olympia oysters, Puget Sound’s only native oysters, were nearly wiped out in the 19th century from overharvesting. Now a network of scientists and advocates is working to restore them to their historical and cultural prominence. Sarah DeWeerdt reports. (Salish Sea Currents)

Trump Administration, Getting Set for a Major Rollback, Ends Clean Air Talks With California 
The Trump administration, setting the stage to move forward with one of its most consequential climate-policy rollbacks, announced Thursday that it had decided to scrap negotiations with California over the president’s plan to undo Obama-era fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks. The move makes a protracted legal battle almost certain. At the heart of the talks was California’s longstanding right to opt out of national auto emissions rules and set its own tailpipe standards. State officials have vowed to sue to protect that authority if the administration tries to impose weaker federal standards on California and the dozen states that follow its lead. Xavier Becerra, the California attorney general, said Thursday the state was “prepared to defend our national Clean Car standards even if the Trump administration intends to go AWOL.”  Lisa Friedman and Hiroko Tabuchi

Inslee Watch: New climate super PAC says it will support Gov. Jay Inslee if he runs for president
If Gov. Jay Inslee announces a bid for president, as he’s widely expected to do soon, he’ll have support from a newly formed super PAC. The group, called Act Now on Climate, announced its formation Thursday, headed by Corey Platt, who was political director for the Democratic Governors Association, which Inslee chaired last year.... As a super PAC, Act Now on Climate can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money, and will disclose its donors. The Washington, D.C.-based group announced it will not accept corporate donations. Jim Brunner reports. (Seattle Times)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  240 AM PST Fri Feb 22 2019   
 S wind 15 to 25 kt becoming W in the afternoon. Wind  waves 2 to 4 ft. W swell 6 ft at 13 seconds building to 8 ft at  13 seconds in the afternoon. Rain. 
 W wind 15 to 25 kt easing to 5 to 15 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft subsiding to 2 ft or less after  midnight. W swell 8 ft at 10 seconds. Showers likely. 
 S wind 5 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 8 ft  at 13 seconds. Showers likely. 
 SE wind to 10 kt. Wind waves 1 ft or less. W swell  6 ft at 12 seconds. 
 E wind 15 to 25 kt becoming 15 to 20 kt in the afternoon.  Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. W swell 4 ft at 11 seconds.

"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Thursday, February 21, 2019

2/21 Gooch Is., imidacloprid, 'underwater weather,' Trump's climate, salmon islands, fish season, toxic wood, good pollution

Gooch Island [Michael Paskevicius]
Isle-De-Lis Marine Park
Isle-De-Lis Marine Park is located on Rum Island, off Sidney at the east end of Gooch Island. Located less than a mile from the US/Canada border, rumrunners in the 1920s used the island as a base from which to smuggle prohibited spirits into Stuart Island, in the San Juan Islands group of the US during the prohibition era. (VancouverIsland.Com)

Oyster growers push for pesticide permits to control burrowing shrimp this summer
Oyster growers want to force the state Department of Ecology to allow the use of pesticides in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor. A bill before the state Legislature would require the agency to grant permits to control burrowing shrimp. It also would transfer oversight and regulation of the pesticides to the state Department of Agriculture. Ecology rejected the permits for use of a controversial neurotoxin called imidacloprid last April, saying new science showed too much risk. Imidacloprid is widely used in land-based agriculture, but not in aquaculture and is part of a class of chemicals called neonicotinoids, which have been linked to bee colony collapse. It was recently banned in the European Union. Oyster growers appealed Ecology’s decision.  A hearing before the state pollution control board is set for this fall. But the growers say they need to spray this summer. Bellamy Pailthorp reports. (KNKX)

How forecasting 'underwater weather' could save WA's shellfish
Washington is home to thousands of marine species. Salmon, crabs and bivalve shellfish like oysters and clams fuel both the aquatic food chain and human fisheries — and they thrive under stable levels of acidity, salinity and other marine growing conditions. But over the past few decades, climate change has acidified the world’s oceans at an unprecedented rate, threatening the biodiversity that defines our region and supports these fisheries.... Ultimately, stopping ocean acidification requires unprecedented international mobilization to reduce greenhouse gases. But if scientists and others could predict the complex undersea interactions that enable its worst effects, they could pull the trigger on short-term, local solutions that might help people and wildlife work around them. Researchers at the University of Washington have invented a computer model to do just that. Hannah Weinberger reports. (Crosscut)

White House Panel Will Study Whether Climate Change Is a National Security Threat. It Includes a Climate Denialist
President Trump is preparing to establish a panel to examine how climate change affects national security, to include a White House adviser whose views are sharply at odds with the established scientific consensus that human-caused global warming poses a threat to the nation’s economy, health and security. According to a White House memo dated Feb. 14, Mr. Trump’s staff members have drafted an executive order to create a 12-member Presidential Committee on Climate Security that will advise Mr. Trump about “how a changing climate could affect the security of the United States.” The memo was first reported by The Washington Post. The panel would include William Happer, a Princeton physicist who serves as Mr. Trump’s deputy assistant for emerging technologies. Dr. Happer has gained notoriety in the scientific community for his statements that carbon dioxide — the greenhouse gas that scientists say is trapping heat and warming the planet — is beneficial to humanity. Coral Davenport reports. (NY Times)

The uncertain fate of the lower Fraser River’s last salmon island strongholds
Most of this iconic salmon river’s foreshore wetlands, marshes and islands have been logged, diked, drained and converted to farming. Only a handful of un-diked islands remain, but now three of them have been bought and logged by developers, while conservationists mount a last-minute attempt to buy them. Christopher Pollon reports. (The Narwhal)

Discussions to begin for setting 2019 salmon seasons
The state Department of Fish & Wildlife is inviting the public to help determine when salmon fishing seasons should be held this year. The state agency will launch the public participation process Wednesday at its annual statewide salmon forecasting meeting. The meeting will be held 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Olympia at the Lacey Community Center, 6729 Pacific Ave. SE, where Fish & Wildlife will present initial salmon return forecasts compiled by state and tribal fish biologists. That meeting will be the first of several scheduled throughout the state. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Puget Sound toxic wood removal could take 10 years without more funding
If the half-dozen people working with the Department of Natural Resources to clean up creosote pilings from Puget Sound continued non-stop every day, it would take 10 years for them to remove it all.... The toxic pilings are a major challenge to salmon and killer whale recovery. Creosote was used decades ago to preserve wood but now it's contaminating Puget Sound. It kills salmon and forage fish and poisons marine mammals.... The Department of Natural Resources does not have enough crew members to clean it all up fast enough, [Public Lands Commissioner Hilary] Franz says.  Her current budget request asks for $90 million for salmon habitat, and some of that will go toward adding a full-time crew to remove all the contaminated wood. Alison Morrow reports. (KING)

Scientist says some pollution is good for you — a disputed claim Trump’s EPA has embraced
In early 2018, a deputy assistant administrator in the EPA, Clint Woods, reached out to a Massachusetts toxicologist best known for pushing a public health standard suggesting that low levels of toxic chemicals and radiation are good for people. “I wanted to check to see if you might have some time in the next couple of days for a quick call to discuss a couple items …,” Woods wrote to Ed Calabrese.  Less than two weeks later, Calabrese’s suggestions on how the EPA should assess toxic chemicals and radiation were introduced, nearly word for word, in the U.S. government’s official journal, the Federal Register. “This is a major big time victory,” Calabrese wrote in an email to Steve Milloy, a former coal and tobacco lobbyist who runs a website,, that seeks to discredit mainstream climate science. Susanne Rust reports. (LA Times)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  241 AM PST Thu Feb 21 2019   
 E wind 10 to 20 kt. Wind waves 1 to 3 ft. W swell 9 ft  at 13 seconds. 
 SE wind to 10 kt becoming S 5 to 15 kt after midnight.  Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 6 ft at 13 seconds. A slight  chance of rain in the evening then a chance of rain after  midnight.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

2/20 Sea cuke, steelhead plan, Van Aqua cetacean ban, BC LNG jobs, Steelhead LNG, offshore drilling, orca sorrow, whale fall, libel law

White sea cucumber [CalPhoto/UCBerkeley]
White sea cucumber Eupentacta quinquesemita
The white sea cucumber grows to a length of about 4 inches, has spiny looking tube feet, and true to its name, it is white or cream colored.   The 8 large and 2 small tentacles are actually specialized tube feet and are used for food collection.   Watch for it in the middle to low intertidal zones in rock crevices, amongst mussel clumps, and on floats.   It lives subtidally in water up to 180 feet deep.   Several species of sea stars prey on this little sea cucumber.   Other common names for Eupentacta quinquesemita are stiff-footed sea cucumber and white sea gherkin. Mary Jo Adams. (Sound Water Stewards)

Feds release steelhead recovery plan
The National Marine Fisheries Service has drafted a recovery plan for Puget Sound steelhead, including those from the Skagit River. The fisheries service, which is a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is taking public comment on the plan through March 28. A recovery plan is required for any species protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Puget Sound steelhead were listed as threatened under the act in 2007 after populations of the fish declined for several years in area rivers including the Skagit River — once a stronghold for the species. The plan provides guidance for the protection and recovery of Puget Sound steelhead, which are those originating in rivers from the Elwha east and north to the Nooksack. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Vancouver Aquarium to return to court over bylaw banning cetaceans
The British Columbia Court of Appeal has sent the Vancouver Aquarium back to court over its attempt to quash a park board bylaw banning whales and dolphins in city parks. The Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation passed a bylaw amendment in May 2917 banning cetaceans being brought to or kept in city parks after two beluga whales died in captivity at the aquarium. The facility, which is located in Stanley Park, launched a judicial review seeking to set aside the amendment on four grounds, including that the park board’s licence agreement with the facility prevented it from applying the change. A B.C. Supreme Court judge agreed with the aquarium and declared the bylaw amendment void, but a panel of three Appeal Court judges overturned that ruling in a decision issued Tuesday. (Canadian Press)

First Nation 'deeply disappointed' after Steelhead LNG pulls out of Vancouver Island project
A Vancouver Island First Nation says it is "deeply disappointed" that a liquefied natural gas company has pulled out of a planned development just months after it was announced as a major milestone. In an open letter, Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis and hereditary Chief Derek Peters say the First Nation has been notified by Vancouver-based Steelhead LNG that it has "ceased current project work" on the Kwispaa LNG project. Steelhead LNG and the Huu-ay-aht announced in March 2017 that they would work together to develop the export facility at Sarita Bay on the west coast of Vancouver Island. (CBC)

Prospective workers outweigh protesters, claims pipeline company rep
The company behind a controversial gas pipeline project in Northern B.C. says, despite high profile opposition, the project has the support of many local workers. Coastal GasLink has been holding a series of job fairs and networking events this year in northern towns and Indigenous communities to connect job seekers with contractors involved in the pipeline's construction. Communications advisor Suzanne Wilton said the company is focusing on a 'local first' recruitment policy and there have been thousands of face-to-face meetings with prospective workers, some of whom have received job offers on the spot. Jennifer Wilson reports. (CBC)

Bill To Stymie Offshore Drilling Passes Oregon Senate
Oregon’s rugged coast is poised to grow even more inhospitable to oil and gas interests in coming days under a bill that passed the state Senate on Tuesday. Senate Bill 256 would permanently extend an existing ban on oil and gas exploration in the 3-mile-wide band of coastal water the state controls. That ban is scheduled to expire in 2020. More significantly, the bill also would prohibit any new infrastructure in Oregon-controlled waters that could aid drilling beyond the 3-mile point. That would make it difficult to do any drilling off the Oregon coast, even in federally controlled waters.  Dirk VanderHart reports. (OPB)

The Orca's Sorrow
A spate of new observations of grief in animals hints at why some species mourn and others do not. Barbara L. King reports. (Scientific American)

New tutorial ‘Whales in our Waters’ launched by BC Ferries
A new tutorial has been launched for mariners and the general public about whales in the Salish Sea. Nick Murray reports. (Nanaimo Bulletin)

A Whale’s Afterlife
Tow a dead whale out to sea, sink it to the seafloor and watch what happens. "Whale falls, as marine biologists call such events, create pop-up habitats that may serve as stepping stones for organisms migrating from methane seeps or hydrothermal vents to other parts of the ocean. Precisely how this works, and which species colonize the carcass as it degrades, were open questions that [marine biologist Greg] Rouse hoped to answer." Jeffrey Marlow reports. (The New Yorker)

Justice Clarence Thomas Calls for Reconsideration of Landmark Libel Ruling
Justice Clarence Thomas on Tuesday called for the Supreme Court to reconsider New York Times v. Sullivan, the landmark 1964 ruling interpreting the First Amendment to make it hard for public officials to prevail in libel suits. He said the decision had no basis in the Constitution as it was understood by the people who drafted and ratified it. “New York Times and the court’s decisions extending it were policy-driven decisions masquerading as constitutional law,” Justice Thomas wrote.... Justice Thomas’s statement came in the wake of complaints from President Trump that libel laws make it too hard for public officials to win libel suits. “I’m going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money,” Mr. Trump said on the campaign trail. “We’re going to open up those libel laws. So when The New York Times writes a hit piece which is a total disgrace or when The Washington Post, which is there for other reasons, writes a hit piece, we can sue them and win money instead of having no chance of winning because they’re totally protected.” Adam Liptak reports. (NY Times)

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  245 AM PST Wed Feb 20 2019   
 NW wind 5 to 15 kt in the morning becoming light. Wind  waves 2 ft or less. W swell 10 ft at 11 seconds. A slight chance  of showers in the morning. 
 NW wind to 10 kt becoming E 5 to 15 kt after midnight.  Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 10 ft at 12 seconds.

"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

2/19 Towhee, snowpack, sockeye run, Puget Sound poop, wood stove rules, Interior public records

Spotted Towhee [Wikipedia]
Spotted Towhee Pipilo maculatus
A widespread towhee of the West, sometimes abundant in chaparral and on brushy mountain slopes.... Forages mostly on the ground, frequently scratching in the leaf-litter. Also sometimes forages up in shrubs and low trees.... Male defends nesting territory by singing, often from a high perch. In courtship, male may chase female. Nest site is on the ground under a shrub, or in low bushes, usually less than 5' above the ground. Nest (built by female) is an open cup of grass, twigs, weeds, rootlets, strips of bark, lined with finer materials, sometimes including animal hair. (Audubon Field Guide)

Farmers, skiers, salmon rejoice! The snowpack is back
Usually, Washington’s calendar for snowpack looks like this: Heavy snow in the Cascades starts in December and peaks in January, dwindling through the following months. By April, most scientists watching the weather expect snowpack to reach its annual peak. For Seattle, this typically translates into a day or two with an inch or so of wet slop that disappears within 48 hours. But with slushy roads and ice still lingering in Seattle after more than a week of heavy snowfall, it’s obvious this year is an exception. An unprecedented total of 14.1 inches of snow shattered February records for Seattle proper, and SeaTac’s 20.2-inch snowfall makes February the fourth snowiest month ever on record. SeaTac is also on track to record the coldest February in history. All of this has profound implications for the snowpack that feeds forests, rivers and farms throughout the rest of the year. Cliff Mass, an atmospheric sciences professor at the University of Washington, writes that most predictions suggest “a very cold pattern remaining in place” for the rest of the month. Colder temperatures will lock that snowpack in for water use the rest of the year. Manola Secaira reports. (Crosscut)

Conservationist blames fishing practices for low salmon run numbers; DFO disagrees
The number of sockeye salmon that made it up the Fraser River last fall was lower than originally predicted, prompting a conservation group to blame the federal fisheries regulator for allowing the area to be overfished.... The Fraser River Panel, a joint Canada-U.S. panel, determines the number of salmon fishermen can catch during salmon spawning season based on estimates provided by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). Last year, DFO's estimate that six million salmon would return to the Fraser River overestimated the late-summer run by 30 per cent, said a press release from the Watershed Watch Salmon Society. But because fishing decisions are based on these estimates,... fisheries officials allowed too many salmon to be harvested. Ryan Patrick Jones reports. (CBC)

Legal battles continue over dumping human waste in Puget Sound
Tug boat companies are suing the EPA to stop a Washington state ruling that bans the dumping of raw sewage in Puget Sound area waterways. Now, several environmental activism groups are getting involved in the legal fight. Last year, the Washington Department of Ecology created the Northwest's first no discharge zone (NDZ), which would span 2,300 square miles from the Canadian border to the Discovery Island Lighthouse and waters east of the New Dungeness Lighthouse. It also would include Lake Washington, Lake Union, and connecting waters to Puget Sound.... Puget Soundkeeper is now one of several groups fighting back against a lawsuit that tugboat companies have filed against the EPA, which ruled that Puget Sound has enough pump-out stations to accommodate Ecology's decision. They have joined the EPA as intervenors, along with the Washington Environmental Council and Friends of the Earth. Alison Morrow reports. (KING)

Northwest Air Quality Agencies Oppose Possible Delay To Federal Wood Stove Compliance Rules
The Environmental Protection Agency set new clean-air standards four years ago for wood stove and hydronic heater manufacturers. These manufacturers were told that by 2020 they would have to sell off older models of stoves and heaters that did not meet the new standards that limit fine particulate matter. Now, under the Trump administration, the EPA is proposing a two-year delay to that sell-by deadline. “Recently, some manufacturers have indicated that they need more time to develop, test, and certify wood heating devices that meet the [new] standard,” wrote the EPA in an announcement of its proposal in the Federal Register. The agency says manufacturers have said “the costs of… compliance are beyond what the industry can bear.” Emily Schwing reports. (KNKX)

Interior Department's Push To Limit Public Records Requests Draws Criticism 
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke left the Trump administration amid unresolved ethics investigations. His department has been inundated by Freedom of Information requests and is now proposing a new rule which critics charge could limit transparency. Nate Hegly reports. (KUER/NPR)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  241 AM PST Tue Feb 19 2019   
 W wind to 10 kt rising to 10 to 20 kt in the afternoon.  Wind waves 1 ft or less building to 1 to 3 ft in the afternoon. W  swell 6 ft at 13 seconds. A chance of rain in the morning then  rain in the afternoon. 
 NW wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. W swell  6 ft at 13 seconds building to 9 ft at 10 seconds after midnight.  Rain in the evening then a chance of rain after midnight.

"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Monday, February 18, 2019

2/18 Race Rocks, BC pipe, BC LNG, US 'waters,' Lake Erie rights, David Lopeman, orca rules, Octo Week, Edith Iglauer

Race Rocks light [Wikipedia]
Race Rocks Light
Race Rocks Light is one of the first two lighthouses that were built on the west coast of Canada, financed by the British Government and illuminated in 1860. It is the only lighthouse on that coast built of rock, (granite) purportedly quarried in Scotland, and topped with sandstone quarried on Gabriola Island. The Islands of Race Rocks are located just off the southern tip of Vancouver Island, about 16 km (10 mi) southwest of Victoria, British Columbia. Race Rocks Ecological Reserve is also a designated Marine Protected Area  managed by the staff and students at Pearson College, and is available as a resource for research and education. (Wikipedia)

Federal cabinet likely to extend deadline to reconsider Trans Mountain pipeline
Canada’s energy regulator will tell the federal government this week whether it still thinks the Trans Mountain pipeline should be expanded, but cabinet’s final say on the project’s future is still several months away. The National Energy Board is reconsidering the project’s impact on marine life, including highly endangered southern resident killer whales, after the Federal Court of Appeal ruled last year that the NEB’s 2016 approval failed to properly take into account how the whales would be affected by having additional oil tankers in their waters. The report’s delivery will start the clock on a 90-day deadline for cabinet to decide whether the controversial project will proceed, a deadline officials are already signalling could be pushed back. Mia Rabson reports. (Canadian Press)

Steelhead LNG halts work on Kwispaa LNG project
In a letter posted to the Huu-ay-aht First Nations website, the First Nation says they’ve received notification that Steelhead LNG has stopped work on the Kwispaa LNG Project. The letter dated February 15, 2019, says “We are deeply disappointed, and over the coming weeks your government will evaluate the implications  of this decision by Steelhead LNG, identify all go‐forward options, and assess how best to advance the interests of our citizens.” The letter doesn’t say why the project has been halted, and Steelhead LNG has not released any information about the announcement. Steelhead LNG was supposed to source natural gas for the LNG facility from various producers in northeastern British Columbia and northwestern Alberta. Steelhead was supposed to build a pipeline from the Chetwynd area to Williams Lake area, southwest to Powell River, then across the Salish Sea to the Kwispaa LNG facility on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Adam Reaburn reports. (Energeticcity)

Work suspended on pipeline after ancient First Nation tools found
Coastal GasLink says it has suspended pipeline work south of Houston, B.C., while claims of the discovery of Indigenous artifacts on the site are investigated. The company says it has cordoned off the area, requested that a qualified archeologist visit the site and the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission will conduct another site visit to investigate the claims. It says an archeological impact assessment for the site was approved in 2016, but the company and its archeologists were not able to conduct on-site fieldwork during the regulatory and permitting process due to road access issues. (Canadian Press)

'Waters of the United States redefinition' notice
The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) propose to establish a revised definition of the term ‘waters of the United States’. Comments must be received by 15 April. 84 Fed. Reg. 4154 (2/14/19) Federal Register Notice.

Legal Rights for Lake Erie? Voters in Ohio City Will Decide
The failing health of Lake Erie, the world’s 11th largest lake, is at the heart of one of the most unusual questions to appear on an American ballot: Should a body of water be given rights normally associated with those granted to a person? Voters in Toledo, Ohio, will be asked this month to decide whether Lake Erie, which supports the economies of four states, one Canadian province and the cities of Toledo, Cleveland and Buffalo, has the legal right “to exist, flourish, and naturally evolve.” The peculiar ballot question comes amid a string of environmental calamities at the lake — poisonous algal blooms in summer, runoff containing fertilizer and animal manure, and a constant threat from invasive fish. But this special election is not merely symbolic. It is legal strategy: If the lake gets legal rights, the theory goes, people can sue polluters on its behalf. Timothy Williams reports. (NY Times)

Longtime Squaxin Island Tribal Chairman David E. Lopeman remembered for 'leadership and will' 
David E. Lopeman, longtime chairman of the Squaxin Island Tribe, is remembered as a staunch supporter of the tribe’s sovereignty and a champion of much of its business development. Mr. Lopeman, 75, died in his sleep at his home in Kamilche on Jan. 9, according to the tribe. He served on the Squaxin Island Tribal Council for 30 years — 24 as chairman — and those who knew him say he had a hand in everything. Asia Fields reports. (Seattle Times)

Lawmakers propose new watercraft restrictions to save southern resident orcas
Lawmakers, whale watchers and environmentalists reached a rare consensus at a hearing on a proposed speed limit for boats operating near Puget Sound’s endangered southern resident orcas this week. However, they were less successful when it came to measures that would restrict commercial and other whale watching activities in the area. Senate Bill 5577 would make it illegal for a person to operate a vessel over seven knots in speed within a half nautical mile of southern resident orcas. It would also be unlawful for any whale watch vessel to approach within 650 yards of the orcas until Jan. 1, 2023. Current regulations prohibit vessels from approaching within 200 yards of a southern resident orca or positioning themselves within 400 yards of the expected path of the animals. Sean Harding reports. (Bainbridge Reporter)

Killer whales eat dolphins. So why are these dolphins tempting fate?
Killer whales are the only predators that regularly kill and devour Pacific white-sided dolphins off the B.C. and Washington coasts. So researchers were surprised when drone footage showed such dolphins playing within a few fin-spans of killer whales' toothy jaws.... It turns out the dolphins have nothing to fear from these particular killer whales, also known as orcas. Southern resident killer whales are nearly physically identical to, very genetically similar to, and officially the same species as dolphin-eating Bigg's killer whales that roam the same waters. But it just so happens that southern resident killer whales are strict pescatarians that avoid all red meat, although they eat fish. Somehow, the dolphins can tell the difference. Emily Chung reports. (CBC)

Raise your hands if you like octopus 
The Seattle Aquarium kicked off Octopus Week on Saturday, Feb. 16, with the release of a 65-pound giant Pacific octopus named Dash into Puget Sound. The cephalopod celebration continues through Sunday, Feb. 24. For a schedule of events, see: Alan Berner reports. (Seattle Times)

Writer Edith Iglauer's legacy on the B.C. fishing village she made home
Iglauer, 101, passed away on Feb. 13, 2019 in Sechelt, B.C.... Iglauer travelled to the Arctic, writing about Inuit-run co-operatives and the ice road network. She wrote memorable profiles of prominent Canadians like Vancouver architect Arthur Erickson, artist Bill Reid, and Pierre Elliot Trudeau. Then, for a story on West Coast commercial fishing, Iglauer came to Pender Harbour on B.C.'s Sunshine Coast. It was an assignment that would change the trajectory of her life. Iglauer, who had since divorced her first husband in 1966, met commercial salmon-trawler John Daly. The unconventional couple fell in love, married and she moved to the area where she would spend the rest of her life.  Roshini Nair reports. (CBC)

Now, your tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  317 AM PST Mon Feb 18 2019   
 SE wind to 10 kt. Wind waves 1 ft or less. W swell 5 ft  at 15 seconds. 
 Light wind. Wind waves less than 1 ft. W swell 5 ft at  14 seconds.

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Friday, February 15, 2019

2/15 Red sponge nudibranch, salmon research, blueback closure, oil train wrecks, shot seal recovery

Red sponge nudibranch [Dave Cowles]
Red sponge nudibranch Rostanga pulchra
This species feeds on, and is often found on, red sponges such as Acarnus, Esperiopsis, Ophlitaspongia, and Plocamia.  It lays its eggs in a tight orange circle on the sponges March to October (photo).  The larvae are planktonic for 30-45 days, then settle.  An encounter with at least one prey sponge, Ophlitaspongia pennata, can induce larvae to settle.  It is believed that its orange pigment comes from the sponge.  Adults can locate and navigate to distant Ophlitaspongia sponges by smell.  Some individuals seem to stay quite close to one area while others range for distant sponges.  Predators may include the flatworm Notoplana acticola.  The cephalaspidean predatory nudibranch Navanax inermis is repelled by secretions from Rostanga. (Walla Walla University)

BC-led international expedition to probe ailing Pacific salmon stocks
An unprecedented international collaboration could revolutionize salmon science and fisheries management, return forecasting and even hatchery output. Nineteen scientists from Russia, Canada, the United States, Japan and South Korea are set to probe the secret lives of five Pacific salmon species with a four-week grid search and test fishery across the Gulf of Alaska. The expedition begins next week aboard the Russian research ship MV Professor Kaganovsky. “We know virtually nothing about what happens to salmon once they leave near-shore waters in the Salish Sea,” said expedition organizer Dick Beamish. The project was developed as a research element of the 2019 International Year of the Salmon celebration, organized by the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission and its partners. Randy Shore reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Blueback closure latest in Quinault climate change impacts
The decision to close commercial fishing for Quinault River blueback (sockeye) salmon for conservation purposes this year is part of the ongoing effort by the Quinault Indian Nation to deal with the very tangible costs of climate change. After announcing the blueback closure on the river last week for 2019, Quinault President Fawn Sharp traveled to Washington, D.C. with a message for Congress about how the entire Quinault ecosystem from the glacier to the ocean is being harmed by climate conditions that have major impacts, economically as well as environmentally. Angelo Bruscas reports. (North Coast News)

Feds requiring regional response teams to oil train wrecks 
Federal transportation officials are requiring railroads to establish regional response teams along oil train routes following a series of fiery derailments. The new rule announced Thursday is aimed at having crews and equipment ready in the event of an accident. It applies to oil trains in continuous blocks of 20 or more loaded tank cars and those having 35 loaded tank cars. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued the rule in coordination with the Federal Railroad Administration. The pipeline safety agency said a review identified challenges that occurred during previous responses to derailments. John Raby reports. (Associated Press)

If you want to watch: Pregnant seal shot in Puget Sound recovers, ready for release
A pregnant seal shot in Puget Sound is in recovery. Hear what happened, and why her caretakers are looking forward to this weekend. Alison Morrow reports. (KING)

Now, your weekend tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  303 AM PST Fri Feb 15 2019   
 SE wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. W swell 8 to  10 ft building to 12 ft at 15 seconds. A chance of showers. 
 S wind 15 to 25 kt easing to 10 to 15 kt. Wind waves 2  to 4 ft subsiding to 1 or 2 ft. W swell 10 to 12 ft at 14  seconds. A chance of showers. 
 W wind 10 to 15 kt. Wind waves 1 or 2 ft. W swell 9 ft at  12 seconds. A chance of showers. 
 Variable wind to 10 kt becoming E 15 to 25 kt after  midnight. Wind waves 1 ft or less building to 3 to 5 ft after  midnight. W swell 9 ft at 10 seconds. 
 E wind 20 to 30 kt. Wind waves 3 to 5 ft. W swell 7 ft at  10 seconds.

"Salish Sea News & Weather" is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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Thursday, February 14, 2019

2/14 Lovebird, Gamble Bay freeze, road salt, indigenous people rights, Methow mining, Great Gray Owl, sperm test

Grey-headed lovebird [Tony Austin/Flickr]
Lovebird Agapornis
A lovebird is the common name of Agapornis (Greek: αγάπη agape 'love'; όρνις ornis 'bird'), a small genus of parrot. Eight species are native to the African continent, with the grey-headed lovebird being native to Madagascar. Social and affectionate, the name comes from the parrots' strong, monogamous pair bonding and the long periods which paired birds spend sitting together. (Wikipedia)

It's been that cold: Gamble Bay partially freezes over during cold snap
It's a very rare sight to see any kind of large body of water freeze around here, but that was the case earlier this week with Gamble Bay over on the Kitsap Peninsula. Frigid temperatures combined with snow run off to bring the surface of the water below freezing, even though the bay itself is salt water. It's not exactly as captivating as a perfectly spinning circle of ice, but it's still quite the rare treat to see in the Northwest. "Obviously one of the most used phrases over the past 10 days has been 'I have never seen anything like this,' " life-long Puget Sound resident Greg Johnson wrote in a blog entry. "This qualifies as a story about something I have never seen before." Scott Sistek reports. (KOMO)

Salt. Seattle's go-to deicer, despite its downsides
One of the main tools that road crews have been fighting the Seattle area’s snowpocalypse with is salt—despite salt’s many well-known downsides. “There’s quite a long list,” engineering professor Xianming Shi with Washington State University said. “The salt on the road is an enormous problem on your car,” Darlene Feikema of Shoreline said while out shoveling her driveway. “It doesn’t show up immediately, but it corrodes the car, rusts it out.”.... Veterinarians recommend wiping or rinsing off dogs’ paws after they walk near salt-treated roads. Road salt also pollutes waterways and groundwater and shortens the lifespan of asphalt and concrete infrastructure. Still, Seattle officials have been touting how much, not how little, salt road crews have been applying. John Ryan reports. (KUOW)

B.C. commits to being 1st province in Canada to put UNDRIP into legislation
The B.C. government says it will introduce legislation to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP), among plans announced in Tuesday's throne speech. The goal is to table legislation sometime this year. If passed, it will make B.C. the first province in Canada to legislate its endorsement of the declaration. Premier John Horgan told reporters on Tuesday he's unsure what implementation will look like — if a single bill will do the job or if several pieces of legislation will need to be rewritten. He said legislative councils are working on the details and will be reporting back with their findings. Chantelle Bellrichard reports. (CBC)

In Methow Valley, locals hope D.C. lawmakers will stop a copper mine
A bird could fly the distance between the general store in Mazama and a proposed 531-square-mile strip-mining operation in about 10 minutes, a journey that includes traversing a vertical mile. Owned and operated by Ric and Missy LeDucs, the store serves the Okanogan County town’s population of maybe 200 in Washington’s northern Cascades, about 2,000 feet above sea level. Just north of the hamlet is 7,000-foot Goat Peak.... On the opposite side of the ridge and Flagg Mountain is the site currently targeted by Blue River Resources, a Vancouver, B.C., mining company that has had its eye on the land since 2013. The company sees potential to extract copper, up to 1 billion pounds, or 500,000 tons, according to its website.... DeLuc and other residents in the valley opposed to the operation are looking to Washington, D.C., where a bill by Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., was tucked inside a package of roughly 110 natural resource bills bound together by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Cantwell. The Senate passed that package 87-7 on Tuesday. John Stang reports. (Crosscut)

Half Mystery, Half Magic: In Search Of Great Grey Owls
Nicknamed the "ghosts of the forest," great grey owls are elusive. Photographer Ken Shults is on a quest to find and photograph these elegant owls. Ian McCluskey reports. (OPB)

Yesterday's pre-Valentine's Day story [Nothing says Valentine’s quite like mucus, semen and crunchy sea urchins] prompted Rick Haley of Skagit County to write: "Did you know that if you inject sea urchins (and sand dollars) with KCl [potassium chloride], they will start spawning immediately? In my previous life conducting aquatic toxicology tests with paper mill effluents, we did a lot of sea urchin sperm testing.  One of the pioneers of that test was our very own Dr. Paul Dinnel.  The idea was to expose the sperm to effluent dilutions, then add eggs to see if they could still do the job.  Echinoid [sea urchin] eggs, once fertilized, form a very distinct fertilization ring that’s easy to count.  What we found was that pulp mill effluent was way more “toxic” to sea urchin sperm than to freshwater organisms like trout and Ceriodaphnia [daphnids].  We did all kinds of stats trying to relate the known toxicants in the effluent to the effects we were seeing, and got nowhere.  Eventually we arrived at the determination that it wasn’t the chlorinated organics, it was high molecular mass compounds that were from the wood itself.  The best correlation was with tannin levels.  I tested the theory by brewing a really strong cup of tea, and we found that was extremely “toxic” to the sperm cells.  I put toxic in parenthesis because it was probably more a physical effect interfering with the acrosome reaction than a traditional chemical toxicity.  I should stress that this info is at least 20 years old and pulp mill effluent toxicology could have changed markedly since then."

Now, your tug weather--

West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  314 AM PST Thu Feb 14 2019   
 E wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. S swell 6 ft  at 12 seconds. A chance of rain in the morning then rain likely  in the afternoon. 
 SE wind 15 to 25 kt. Wind waves 2 to 4 ft. S swell  6 ft at 15 seconds building to W swell 8 ft at 16 seconds after  midnight. Rain in the evening then showers likely after midnight.

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