Live blog: Bill Ruckelshaus on ecosystem based management

Notes on “Ecosystem Based Management – It’s now up to us” at the NOAA/NWFSC Monster Jam seminar.  Bill introduced the talk by discussing how 97% of Puget Sound residents feel obligated to pass on a clean marine environment to their children, but very few think there are any substantial problems with Puget Sound.

11:15 Puget Sound Partnership led by E.D. Dave Dix has three components:

  1. Leadership Council (Bill leads a council of 6 appointed by Governor)
  2. Science Panel (~100 scientists)
  3. Ecosystem Coordination Board (representing disparate interests providing advisory function)

Yesterday we presented a draft Plan and we got spirited advice back from the ECB.  A year-round tug owned in Neah Bay is on that list.

11:20 Important past/current efforts (some now incorporated):

  • Salmon Recovery Plan (came from PS Shared Strategy)
  • PS Regional Council (4 central Counties with a vision for Puget Sound in 2040)
  • Cascadia Land Conservancy (100 year plan for Puget Sound)
  • 12 counties that border the Sound

11:30 Despite fractious players, he believes citizens can understand the complexities and derive solutions.  The Partnership will need to use carrots ($) and sticks (e.g. exhaustion through courts and legislature)

11:35 Progress and problems

  • + Most discharge permits are in compliance
  • + Reduced use of pest/herb-icides and fertilizers
  • + Improved shoreline habitat for fish, birds, etc.
  • - Our monitoring protocols are poor (can’t measure Salmon Recovery Board’s progress after 7 years and ?? million spent)
  • - Easy actions have already been done
  • - Population is growing at 100k/yr (2x U.S. avg growth) with ~4M presently around Puget Sound

11:40 Ultimately, our land use will be a major factor in how Puget Sound does.

  • Controlling existing and future runoff pollution will be key.
  • Forest management and development are huge
  • Farmers and rural developers will need help
  • Making dikes and dams less impactful is a daunting challenge

11:45 The restoration of Lake Washington is a good example of how we can tackle difficult environmental problems.  “No one else has figured out how to restore great ecosytems and maintain the level of human prosperity that we seem to demand.”  The blue crab in Chesapeake Bay is not yet recovered.  The Everglades progess was just heavily criticized. Restoration of the Great Lakes is being attempted yet again.

11:51 Takes questions

  1. How do we sustain momentum given the current State deficit? One of our roles is coordinating.  Sometimes we have 6 watershed groups working on one stream, some with State funding, some with Federal, etc.  Some of their resources could be pooled, or the (sometimes redundant) projects could be made more cooperative/efficient.  $200 million is slated for Puget Sound in current biennium; 1 billion has been spent in Puget Sound.  We’re going to spend money on something, so what is important to us?  One of our jobs is to ensure the public understand the threats.
  2. What sort of sacrifices do we expect Joe/Jane 6-pack to make? Most lists of “10 things you can do” have not been vetted scientifically.  We should take an adaptive management approach (in case we’re wrong about our priorities presented to the public).
  3. Will a year-round tug be funded? It’s in our draft plan.
  4. Fred Felleman: Do you favor permit systems that include fees to cover independent monitoring, like the fees associated with wastewater discharge permits?  Would you support a chronic assessment of herring larvae at discharge points?  And what about ships which don’t currently need permits to discharge? Weigh in with those ideas.  Our draft plan contains a no-discharge rule for ships in Puget Sound.
  5. What strategies could lead to a systematic monitoring system? Rationalizing our monitoring system is critical and it may be easier (to make it more efficient) in lean financial times (like now).  Indicator work has started.  We have interim indicators and a promise of long-term ones.  An issue is who should pay — there is a habit within the State agencies of assuming some other level will pay for the coordination.  There is a *lot* of inertia — folks don’t want to give up the monitoring they’ve already done!
  6. You seem to assume that public understanding will lead to funding.  Why haven’t we had success with our transportation system?  The public gets confused when there isn’t a unifying voice offering a clear solution to the transportation problem.  Our role (at the PSP) is to present the problems clearly and ultimately gain their support — after all 97% say they have an obligation to hand down a healthy PS to their children.

12:10 end

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