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Orcasphere » Health of the Salish Sea: panel discussion
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Health of the Salish Sea: panel discussion


Andrea Copping, Chief Leah George-Wilson, Richard Beamish, Mary Ruckelshaus, Joel Baker

Richard Beamish: State of the Salish Sea (Richard Beamish)

  • Warming trends over last 30yrs  in Strait of Georgia [SoG] (steady) and Puget Sound (slower)
  • Decline in % early marine survival of Coho from 15% down to 1% since 1996 (entrance to SoG through Sept based on clipped fin).  The cause is unknown.
  • Total returns of pink salmon to Fraser are on the rise (from 5 to 20M fish since 1960)
  • Coded wire tag Chinook caught in SoG and PS show that U.S Chinook are caught in Canada, but not visa versa (e.g. 15-25% of juveniles caught Nov 2008)

Times Colonist, Feb 6, 2009: Report calls for salmon watchdog.  Dick says an independent audit team should be led by biz leader, and include judge, dean of science, 3 PIs, 3 NGOs.

Chief Leah:

  • We no longer harvest shellfish because of industrial pollution in Indian Arm, Burrard Inlet.  My 15 year old isn’t learning something we’ve done for ~10k years.
  • Tsleil-Watuth partnered with Health Canada government (didn’t fund as anticipated!) and sought external funding.  We’re gathering data and acting to determine impacts of development and inform long-term planning and resource management.

Joel Baker (Chair of Puget Sound Partnership Science Committee)

  • We’ve been working on ecosystem restoration in our countries for ~40 years.  Why are we still here?
  • 1) Ecosytems are complex!  W.A. Wulf:

There is only one nature – the division into science and engineering is a human imposition, not a natural one.  Indeed, the division is a human failure; it reflects our limited capacity to comprehend the whole.

  • 2) Dave Dix wants a pie chart breaking down the sources of trouble, but our reductionist approach leads to complex results that are hard to communicate (without new tools?)
  • 3) Ecosystems are changing (what is the baseline and can we affect the trajectory?)

We need a new model for ecosystem restoration!

What’s the role of the science community in ecosystem restoration?

  • We need to adopt technology to observe and understand the Salish Sea in real-time, in analogy to medical imaging of the body and observation of metabolism.
  • Answer the questions: How does PS work?  Wha has it changed and what will it look like in 2020?  What are individual and cumulative actions?

Mary Ruckelshaus (NWFSC/PSP science lead)

  • The Salish Sea ecosystem is BIG — from mountainous watersheds to deep ocean
  • The human uses of the ecosystem are multitudinous, as are the humans! I am two with nature.” – Woody Allen
  • There is some collective crankiness that may stem from the 100s of suggestions for how to be green… from lawn care to recycling.
  • How should we scientists react to that common question: “Just tell me what 3-10 things people should do?”  How to see the forest for the trees?!
  • Quantative modeling frameworks like Integrated Ecosystem Assessments enable a systems approach.  If we change management in the watershed, the model predicts effects in nearshore and deep water.

We’re getting results  through this type of approach.  In each a policy change (incentive, regulation) affects actions in an ecosystem.  Biophysical models predict the effect of the change on services (human use) which lead to costs/benefits assessment through economic and cultural models.

Aquaculture or riprap management decision affects eel grass ecosystem which changes Dungeness crab harvest rates and even get down to commercial fisherment boosting sales of beer…

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries in not ‘Eureka’ but ‘That’s funny.”  — Isaac Asimov

Q: Is there a need for a new version of the Joint Marine Science Committee/Panel?  Andrea: maybe.

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