Category Archives: Sustainability

Scientists seek to silence sonar in the Salish Sea

The following open letter was sent today to Governmental and Naval leaders on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border.  As of 3/11/2012 it has been signed by 20 biologists and bioacousticians who have studied the killer whales of the Salish Sea.  (When sent initially, 16 had signed).

To:

Subject:

Silence Sonar in the Salish Sea

As biologists and bioacousticians who study killer whales of the Salish Sea, we ask that the U.S. Navy and Canadian Navy cease using sonar in their critical habitat.  Polluting their environment with intense underwater noise like the “pings” from mid-frequency active sonar poses significant risks to these Federally-listed species.

On February 6, 2012, the Canadian Naval frigate HMCS Ottawa used its sonar system in critical habitat of the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales during a training exercise east of Victoria, B.C. The calls of the Southern Residents’ K and L pods were heard 18 hours later in Haro Strait, and sub-groups of K and L pods were identified 36 hours after the sonar use in Discovery Bay – a location where Southern Residents have never been sighted in 22 years of records. These observations are reminiscent of an incident in May, 2003, when the USS Shoup’s sonar training exercise caused similar unusual nearshore surface milling behavior of Southern Residents in Haro Strait.

New limits should be put on the use of mid-frequency active (MFA) sonar, particularly in the critical habitat of the Southern Residents.  Killer whales are sensitive to the frequencies emitted by MFA sonar (2-10 kHz) and use the same frequency range to communicate with calls and whistles.  Because MFA sonar is intense (source levels ~220-235 underwater decibels), it could permanently or temporarily deafen whales that are unexpectedly nearby and thereby impact their ability to forage, navigate, and socialize. Even temporary threshold shifts could be deleterious because the recovery of the Southern Residents hinges on their use of echolocation to find, identify, and acquire their primary prey, Pacific salmon.

Current procedures for mitigating underwater military noise are inadequate to protect either the resident or transient ecotypes. These procedures depend on the ability to detect whales within 1000 yards (U.S.) or 4000 yards (Canada), which neither passive acoustic listening nor visual surveillance can reliably accomplish. The unprecedented sighting of Southern Residents in Discovery Bay suggests that they may have been present during the pre-dawn sonar exercise on February 6 while remaining undetected by the Canadian Navy’s marine mammal monitoring procedures.  Moreover, we know from the 2003 Shoup incident and the scientific literature that MFA sonar can disrupt marine mammal behavior well beyond the current mitigation distances, particularly in the sound propagation conditions of the Salish Sea.

We therefore urge the U.S. and Canadian Navies to restrict MFA sonar and other intense underwater sound sources in all training and testing conducted in the Salish Sea.  By protecting the whales’ acoustic habitat, our Navies can help further their respective country’s obligations to ensure the recovery of these endangered iconic populations while still fulfilling their important National security missions.

Signed (alphabetically):

  1. David Bain, Ph.D
  2. Robin Baird, Research Biologist, Cascadia Research Collective
  3. Stefan Bråger, Research Director/Curator, The Whale Museum
  4. John Calambokidis, Research Biologist, Cascadia Research Collective
  5. Fred Felleman, Vice-President, Board of Directors, The Whale Museum
  6. Andrew Foote, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
  7. Deborah Giles, MSc, PhD Candidate/Research Biologist, UC Davis
  8. Rachael Griffin, B.Sc. Marine Biology, Aquagreen Marine Research, Victoria, BC
  9. Erin Heydenreich, Field Biologist, Senior staff at the Center for Whale Research
  10. Cara Lachmuth, MSc., Contract Biologist, Victoria, BC
  11. Patrick Miller, Lecturer, School of Biology, University of St Andrews, Scotland
  12. Joseph Olson, President, Cetacean Research Technology
  13. Richard Osborne, Ph.D., Research Associate, The Whale Museum
  14. Paul Spong, Director, OrcaLab and Pacific Orca Society, Alert Bay, BC
  15. Helena Symonds, Director, OrcaLab and Pacific Orca Society, Alert Bay, BC
  16. Scott Veirs, President, Beam Reach Marine Science and Sustainability School
  17. Val Veirs, Professor of Physics, Colorado College
  18. Monika Wieland, BA in Biology, Reed College
  19. Jason Wood, Ph.D., Research Associate, The Whale Museum
  20. Harald Yurk, Research Associate, Vancouver Aquarium

The following recipients were copied on the email:

  • Senator Patty Murray
  • Senator Maria Cantwell
  • Representative Norm Dicks
  • Representative Jay Inslee
  • Governor Chris Gregoire
  • Will Stelle, NOAA NW Regional Administer
  • Lynne Barre, NOAA NW Regional Office
  • Brad Hason, NOAA NWFSC
  • Dr. John Ford, DFO
  • Admiral Cecil D. Haney, Commander U.S. Pacific Fleet
  • Rear Admiral Douglass T. Biesel, Commander Navy Region Northwest
  • Renee Wallis, Navy Region NW
  • Lieutenant Diane Larose, Canadian Navy Public Affairs

Regional “Points of Contact” (POCs) for further information:

Admiral Cecil D. Haney
Commander U.S. Pacific Fleet
cpf.webmaster@navy.mil
(808) 471-9727

Rear Admiral Douglass T. Biesel
Commander Navy Region Northwest
douglass.biesel@navy.mil
(360) 396-1630

Lieutenant Diane Larose
Navy Public Affairs
diane.larose2@forces.gc.ca
(250) 363-5789

$1-10k fines for proximity to orcas

It’s nice to see WDFW making public (see below) the consequences of violating the State and Federal laws governing how vessels may interact with killer whales.  I’ve added these details to the Beam Reach wiki page regarding orca-boat rules.

WDFW NEWS RELEASE
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091

http://wdfw.wa.gov/

June 1, 2010

Rocky Beach, (360) 902-2510

WDFW cautions boat owners
to steer clear of orca whales

OLYMPIA – With summer approaching, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is reminding recreational boaters to give orca whales and other marine mammals a wide berth.

State law requires boaters to stay at least 100 yards away from southern resident orca whales. Boaters who unexpectedly come into closer proximity to an orca are required to stop immediately and allow the whales to pass.

These and other state regulations apply to a variety of small watercraft, including tour boats, private powerboats, sailboats, kayaks, canoes and personal floatation devices.

Federal law also includes broad restrictions against disturbing or harassing any marine mammal, said Mike Cenci, WDFW’s deputy chief of enforcement.

“Boaters have a responsibility to keep their distance from these amazing animals,” Cenci said.  “Human disturbances, including boat traffic, can interfere with their ability to feed, communicate with one another and care for their young.”

Cenci noted that WDFW has issued 10 citations and dozens of warnings to recreational boaters since 2008, when the Legislature approved the state law regulating boating activity around orca whales.

Violating the state law can result in a fine of up to $1,025. The maximum fine under federal law is $10,000.

The southern resident orca population, which currently includes about 90 whales, is classified as “endangered” by both the State of Washington and the federal government.

Those animals, which mostly travel the waters of northern Puget Sound, account for the majority of orca whales found in Washington from early spring to late fall, said Rocky Beach, WDFW wildlife diversity division manager. Major threats to their survival include the declining abundance of salmon, exposure to pollutants and disruptions from passing vessels.

Under state law, it is unlawful to:

  • Approach within 100 yards of a southern resident whale.
  • Cause a vessel or other object to approach within 100 yards of a southern resident whale.
  • Intercept a southern resident whale by remaining in its path until it comes within 100 yards of a vessel.
  • Fail to disengage the transmission of a vessel that is within 100 yards of a southern resident whale.
  • Feed a southern resident whale.

Additional information about the state law is available on the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/diversty/soc/orca/ . Whale-watching guidelines are available at http://www.bewhalewise.org .


This message has been sent to the WDFW News Releases & Weekender mailing list.
Visit the WDFW News Release Archive at:
http://wdfw.wa.gov/do/newreal/

BP threatens Northwest’s orcas

Heraldnet.com
This morning, John Burbank scribed a disconcerting account of oil politics in the southern residents’ backyard.  The following paragraphs provide a glimpse into how the complex interactions of the petroleum industry and our State political system increase risks for killer whales in the Northwest.

BP also has its own salaried lobbyist dedicated to keeping watch over the Legislature. Their man in Olympia is William Kidd, whom BP pays $120,000 a year to prevent any new taxes or regulations from becoming law. He also has an expense account to wine and dine legislators. For example, Kidd took Rep. Jeff Morris, D-Mount Vernon, out to dinner on July 12 in Boise. He took Morris out to dinner again on July 14. And again on Sept. 2. And again on Nov. 4 and Nov. 5 in Regina, Saskatchewan. And again on Dec. 8 in San Diego. (Lobbyist expenses are public records in Washington, and available at www.pdc.wa.gov. )

What’s all the interest in Jeff Morris? He is the speaker pro tem, sort of like vice president of the House of Representatives. He also sits on the House Technology, Energy and Communications Committee, which deals with energy production. He is the CEO of Energy Horizons, which is sponsored by the oil company ConocoPhillips, and by the giant utility Pacificorps, among others. Morris’ district includes Anacortes, home of two oil refineries, and is close to two more refineries, including the BP refinery in Blaine recently cited for 13 serious safety violations.

So why not wine and dine Rep. Morris and make sure that a word here or there could cast doubt about legislation for cleaning up Puget Sound? It is money well spent. BP refines 225,000 barrels of crude oil a day in Washington. The Clean Water Act would have cost BP at least $200,000 a day in new fees. Paying Kidd $120,000 a year and picking up the meal tabs for a few legislators was a wise investment — for BP, not for us. Not for Puget Sound. And not for our future.

We have at least 5 refineries in western Washington: 2 in Anacortes (Tesoro and Shell), Tacoma (U.S. Oil & Refining), 1 in Blaine (BP’s Cherry Point Refinery), and 1 in Ferndale (Conoco Phillips).  Anyone know how much oil is transported to/from each of these facilities, and by what means (tankers, pipeline, rail, truck, etc)?

Orca refuge: a gift for endangered killer whales

Mother and calf seeking refuge

This Friday, January 15, 2010, is the deadline for public comment on the proposed orca conservation area along the west side of San Juan Island. All marine conservationists should consider commenting on these precedent-setting rules: comment via email | comment via web form.  (Official background and the PDF of proposed rule are on the NOAA web page.)

If you are short on time, you can simply sign the petition in support of the proposed rules.  The petition will be submitted to NOAA by the comment deadline.

Give a New Year’s gift to the southern residents  — comment on these precedent-setting rules before midnight (EST for web submittal; PST for emailed comments) this Friday, January 15, 2010: comment via email | comment via web form.

“Current regulations in the U.S. to protect marine mammals stem from the whaling era and focus on prohibiting individual acts that harm marine mammals.  If our society is to protect marine life from today’s threats, the regulatory process will need to change to protect the quality of habitats on which marine mammals depend.” — Peter Tyack, Physics Today, November, 2009.

Researchers call for orca conservation zone in B.C.

Dec 23 Vancouver Sun article about a forth-coming science paper that proposes a conservation zone that overlaps with the proposed orca sanctuary boundaries:

Wildlife researchers have identified the key feeding area for a critically endangered population of killer whales near Vancouver Island and proposed the creation of a unique, miniature conservation zone for the few square kilometres encompassing the animals’ favourite seafood restaurant.

The international team of scientists, including University of British Columbia biologist Rob Williams and colleagues from Britain and the U.S., spent four months in the summer of 2006 painstakingly monitoring the movements of a three-pod population of killer whales in waters off B.C. and Washington state that numbers just 87 individuals — so few that every animal has been identified from distinctive markings.

The researchers found the whales were about three times more likely to feast on Chinook salmon — their preferred meal — in a narrow coastal strip south of Washington’s San Juan Island than anywhere else in their summer range.

In an article published in the latest issue of the journal Animal Conservation, the scientists propose strict protections on this whale-dining “hot spot,” arguing that the no go zone is small enough to establish a practical system for diverting all boat traffic but large enough to guarantee the whales unfettered feeding.

“Protecting even small patches of water can provide conservation benefits, as long as we choose the spots wisely,” said lead researcher Erin Ashe, a biologist at Scotland’s University of St. Andrews, in a summary of the study.

Salmon court fallacy: we must spill or spew

There are some great observations and quotes in the liveblog of Matthey Preusch during the Nov 23, 2009, Salmon Court. This first one suggests a slight of hand or an ignorance of the primary findings of the Bright Future report
— that we do not necessarily have to choose between spilling water for salmon in the summer months and spewing carbon dioxide from more fossil-fueled power plants.

Now the judge is questioning the government of [on] the substance of the supplemental plan, such as why the government won’t continue to spill extra water over power-producing dams even though court-ordered spill has been shown to help fish.

The spills “look like they worked,” said Redden. “Why change them?”

“Your honor, that comes with a cost,” answered Howell, attorney for the government. “And I’m not talking about financial cost. I’m talking about carbon. The more we spill, the more we are going to have to offset that with natural gas and coal.”

The bright future scenario includes replacement of the dam’s 1 GW mean annual power supply with salmon-and-orca-friendly clean energy, NOT new or re-powered of coal and gas power plants. This is perhaps the most damning indication that the government is not thinking clearly about the fundamental “change we need” (and the southern residents and salmon need) here in the Pacific Northwest.

Personally, I believe with compelling public education about what values are really at stake, we can exceed the assumptions about potential conservation. As usual, no one wants to talk about the projected growth of energy demand (1.7%/yr) and its connections to population/economic growth and consumer/conservation ethics.

Also very noteworthy was Lubchenko’s statement that she stands “100% behind the science” in the Biop. As a marine scientist, I am eager to see just what she is behind. Thankfully, we may ultimately get the chance if we are to believe the statement by Howell, lead attorney for the government, who:

offered in an exchange with Judge Redden earlier this morning to make public documents from the administration’s review of the science behind the Bush-era salmon plan.

That’s something the government’s critics have been asking for for some time.

“We will release those documents,” Howell said.

NOAA vessel rules rejected at Seattle Aquarium

Comment crowd and Lynne

Audience, Lynne, and the big tank of fish

<More photos>

Just back from the meeting in which NOAA invited the public to comment on the proposed rules for vessel-orca interactions.  Before a captive audience of Pacific salmon and rockfish, the 2.5 hours of public comment was dominated by the commercial whale watch, recreational and commercial fishing, and kayaking industries.  It seems like a repeat of the Anacortes meeting, described in this Anacortes Now article, except that tonight NOAA’s facilitator kept nearly everyone abiding by the ground rules.

Overall, there were strong objections to the entire suite of alternatives — from the 200 yard viewing distance to the no-go zone.  People for Puget Sound went on record saying that a no-go zone was a step too far.  And Ken Balcomb voted for no action.

I was left with a profound disappointment that so many felt so unfairly burdened by the proposed rules.  If the people who most intimately and consistently share the southern resident’s habitat aren’t willing to make a sacrifice to preserve the basis of their livelihoods, how can we expect the public to act selflessly for our regional icons: the orca and the salmon?

From the captains and operators of the whale watch fleet I heard dire forecasts of impending economic doom, though they would be unlimited by NOAA in 100′s of square kilometers of critical habitat, including areas that might conceivably have been included in a no-go zone: Hein and Middle banks and the rest of the west side of San Juan Island.  From the recreational and commercial fishers I heard that the west side of San Juan Island is sacred salmon fishing ground, though NOAA did not ban them from Eagle Point, Salmon Bank, or Turn Point.  And from the kayakers I heard dismay, when I can imagine trips around Henry Island or through Cattle Pass that offer adventure and orca-viewing on par with what the central west side offers.  While some speakers had delved deeply into the text of the rules and the scientific literature, many made specious assertions about the underlying science and countered with unconvincing anecdotes and generic concerns about correlation not implying causation.

I failed to finish my comments in the allotted 2 minutes.  Those that I fit in are below within the notes I took during the comment session.  But my closing thought was this: What could we humans accomplish on the tough problems of salmon and pollutants if we first succeeded in sacrificing together to reduce this most-tractable extinction risk — vessel interactions.  On a night when I expected suggestions for how to do more to help the whales, I heard only selfish whining.

For those unfamiliar with the extant and proposed regulations, here is a wiki of rules guiding vessel interactions with killer whales.

Live blog from Seattle Aquarium

These are rough personal notes (not quotes!) taken on the fly during the meeting.  NOAA has the complete record.

19:15 Overview by Lynne Barre

19:30 Public comment begins

19:31 CCA opposes impacts on recreational fishers

19:34 Bob Franks, commercial fisher from Gig Harbor: In 1989, there were 72000 boat hours/year and SRKWs were fine.  Now we’re at 1200 boat hours/year and SRKWs are in decline.  Where are the data that implicate commercial fishing vessels?

19:37 Frank, Fidalgo Chapter Puget Sound Anglers: 1/2 mi standoff will have dire consequences for recreational fishers.

19:39: VP of Puget Sound Anglers: While fishing on west side I’ve seen orcas foraging all around us without concern.  Sport fishers are the eyes and ears of the salt water.  They carry on as if we’re not there.  Recreational fishing has no adverse impact on these wonderful marine mammals.

19:42: Ken Balcomb: We noted KWs swam down sound past all fishing vessels twice per year and came down for Sea Fair (4000 boats).  In all these years there has been no evidence of a boat hitting a killer whale.  “My vote is that we take no action, alternative one.  I think we should collectively shelve it somewhere between Alice in Wonderland and Don Quixote.”

19:45: Mark Anderson: There is a scientific consensus that the orcas are starving.  The three legged stool has only two legs now: lack of fish and vessel interactions.  UW study showed mortality goes up with boat concentration.  Economic impact is likely bigger than in the rule’s analysis.

19:48: Bob Keiko, Purse Seine industry rep, Fraser sockeye/pink fishery rep: This no-go zone is a prime fishing area.  Fraser Pink and sockeye migrate through the Straits and their first land impact is the west side of San Juan Island.  The commercial fishery is limited to ~5 days/year.  It’s wrong to assume that the fleet can just go somewhere else to fish.

19:51: Larry Carpenter, owns 2 boat dealerships, spent 1000s of days on west side San Juan Island.  Chinook returns are adequate for fishers and killer whales due to 30% reduction of Canadian catch on outer Vancouver Island.  Foraging and pollution conditions are improving.  We in the recreational fishery are a huge part of the solution.

19:53: Roland Skogley, citizen:

19:56: Cedric Towers, Vancouver Whale Watch operating 7mo/yr; Pacific Whale Watch Association wants to stick with 100yd global standard.  Educational value from professional naturalists is lost at 150-250 yards.  We’ve been experimenting all summer.  I’m going to be out of business.  Customers say they aren’t interested in watching from 200 or 250 yards.

19:59: Speaker for the sea kayak fleet: The no-go zone eliminates nearly all kayakers from west side San Juan Island.  Kayaks are the only silent vessels and our viewing is comparatively brief.

20:00 Rick Thompson, Canadian whale watcher for 10 yrs, 30 yrs commercial fisherman: I don’t see many changes and they seem well-fed this year by the spring returns of this year and last.  My company has 25 people and our oral survey suggests 80% of our customers would forego whale watching at >100yds.

20:03: Ann individual kayaker

20:05: Kayaker for 17years west side San Juan Island: Ban of kayaking isn’t fair

20:11 Rain, Seattle resident

20:17 Peter, whale watch operator: This is onerous.  We educate 10′s of 1000s of people per year.

20:18 Troy, 30 years fished west coast, fought rock cod fishery closures in CA: you’ve managed to pull groups together that don’t like each other.

20:21 People for Puget Sound: restoration of salmon run, reduction of toxins, countering of sonar-like noises.  We agree that vessels are a risk.  We support 200yd, but think no-go zone is too far.  Where is the orca in the orca recovery plan?

20:23 Anna Hall biologist and Prince of Whales captain for 15 years: I’m in full support of species protection as well as the public education that happens on the whale watching boats.   Consider the PWWA proposal.

20:26 Eric Shore, owns Anacortes Kayak Tours and has 20yrs on west side of SJI, about 1000 days with whales.

20:27 Alan McGilvry: “The science is anecdotal, it’s not reproducible, and doesn’t follow scientficic method.  The whale watch industry is part of the solution and we’re here for you.”

20:30: Another whale watch Captain for 25yrs in Floriday, Hawaii, NW 129 people/day

20:32: Dan Kukat, owner of Springtime Charters for 15yrs, charter fishing for 20years.  Canada commends U.S. fishery conservation: Unless there’s food on the table, none of us can live.  Basic economics and passenger testimony say these rules will raise impacts on killer whales by diminishing public education and awareness of the real risks.

20:35 Ken, Seattle Resident: Gas works park contamination sample.

20:36: 20yrs boating interactions mostly with J pod: J pod increase since 1970s.

20:38: Works for Clipper Navigation and long career on water: Please don’t restrict others from seeing them up close.

20:39: Darrel Bryan, CEO Victoria Clipper: How were oral comments in Anacortes not fully recorded?  Why was procedure changed during the meeting?  Did NOAA leave the rule open to legal challenge by altering the rule-making process?

20:42: 47 yr WA resident, sport fisher on west side every summer: What scientific proof do you have that killer whales are not getting enough food on this route.  Orcas are operating in no-go zone because that’s where the fish are.  Pinks come in on in-coming tide and are often scattered by killer whales.  What impediment do few sports fishermen pose if orcas can operate during commercial openings.  In 1962 there were no salt-water fishing licenses!  We have less fish than in 1962 and all we have is more and more restrictions.

20:45 James Dale, 5 star whale watching: I’ve supported recovery planning process for 15 yrs, but am concerned we’re going to get distracted by these regulations from truly meaningful actions.

20:47 Dan, Save our wild salmon

20:51 Shane Aagergard, owns Island Adventures

20:54 Angler expert: economic impacts on recreational fishers may be underestimated

10:56 West side resident: supports 200yd, why is acoustic

10:58 Fred Felleman, west side home-owner and orca biologist: Now there are more boats than whales.  Clearly marine education on the water is a contributor.  Congratulations to NOAA on attracting substantially more public comment than in recent Navy EIS comment meetings.  Go slow, not no go.

21:08 Peter Henke: Enforcement is lacking and enforcement boats have been wreckless.

21:21 WW operator: I’m torn because sometimes it is a zoo out there, but I see a lot of good educational value.

21:23 Annette sea kayaker

21:25 Commercial non-treaty fisherman supports access to no-go zone

21:25 Kowichan Bay operator:

21:27: Peter, Westcott Bay resident: supports all aspects of rule; easy to document inappropriate

21:31; Shane Elwin: Illegal to pursue so supports limits on commercial whale watching.  Relax rules re kayaking.

21:34: Sarah sea kayak guide:

21:36 Thomas Star, Water Trail: We need better enforcement.

21:38: Derrick Mitchell, kayaker

About 5 others, including me.

~21:46 Scott Veirs, WA resident for 15 yr, PhD oceanography, 5 seasons running Beam Reach, co-author of “KWs Speak up”: Will provide written comments, but want to speak as father of 2 young children who love the orcas.  Who is speaking conservatively for the whales?  Whale watch and fishing interests are clearly much better organized than orca-advocacy community!  Why not support a refuge for SRKWs?  Though Beam Reach may be impacted as a business, I support 200 yard limit and no-go zone.  In fact, I ask why the no-go zone does not include the Eagle Point to Salmon Bank, a region which many consider a foraging hot spot along the west side. BR has not joined the PWWA because the Association does not strike an acceptable balance between (what appears tonight like) economic greed and ecological value, and does not take a precautionary approach.

21:53: Finished with public comment.

Earth Hour

Here’s an opportunity to act (at least symbolically) for resident orca and WA salmon by reducing electricity (mostly from hydropower) demand for a special hour: 8:30-9:30pm this Saturday, March 28.

On March 28 you can VOTE EARTH by switching off your lights for one hour.
The results of the election are being presented at the Global Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen 2009. We want one billion votes for Earth, to tell world leaders that we have to take action against global warming.
 
Switch off your lights for one hour March 28th, 8:30-9:30 pm.
 

Nearshore distribution and size-structure of juvenile salmon and forage fishfrom the observations and modeling on watersheds, marine waters, and marine biota. These talks will focus

Elisabeth Duffy*, David Beauchamp

Juvenile salmon are moving through Puget Sound (PS) from April-July.  By end of July most have made it to the deep ocean.  Percent of fish from hatcheries is about 50% in N PS and 90% in S PS.

Nearshore fish comunity: herring and perch up north, hatchery salmon dominate in the south; salmon are 30-130mm, herring 130-160cm, sand lance 100-130cm; north diets dominated by insects, south diet by crab larvae, euphausids; predators drive early mortality and salmonids dominate (cutthroat target smallest juveniles)

Overall, marine survival has been really low, and lowest during pink years.  The bigger the fish are in July, the better their marine survival.

Where do we go from here?

  • synthesize data across Salish Sea
  • Prey supply (zooplankton) is a big data gap

The 6th H of salmon abundance: Heat

The clipping below is from a Daily Astorian article on an EPA report regarding global warming’s potential influence on Northwest salmon.  Of most import for killer whale conservationists are the implications of what James Martin calls a “perfect storm” for salmon: low snow pack with low, warm flows in the summer.
Martin provides a nice quote regarding the economic impact of such a storm:
“In Oregon, Washington and Idaho, it’s a 35,000-job industry, and it’s worth $3 billion dollars per year,” he said. “So it’s a lot more than just a hobby. There’s a lot at stake.”
That’s about 30x the $100M estimate of ecotourism value associated  with the southern residents.
The article also mentions a report co-authored by Martin and Patty Glick called A Great Wave Rising. Dan Drais of Save Our Wild Salmon recently handed me a copy and it looks like an admirable, balanced attempt to bring climate science into the on-going struggle to devise a legal federal plan for recovering endangered fish in the Columbia/Snake basin.  I particularly like that it is rich in reputable citations with which I (and global warming skeptics) can understand the uncertainties in the trends and projections.
A quote from Glick suggests that “Heat” should be added to the 4 H’s that govern northwest salmon abundance: harvest, hatcheries, hydropower, and habitat.  But just last night, David Montogomery claimed the 5th H should be “History” — the history of salmon-human interactions, particularly in Britain and in the Northeast U.S.  So, for me “Heat” has become the 6th H and I’m even more convinced that salmon recovery (linked with killer whale recovery) is one of the most complex, grand environmental challenges of our time.
clipped from www.dailyastorian.com

12/26/2008 11:21:00 AM
The EPA warns that climate change threatens Oregon’s cold-water fish populations
By Michael Burkett
East Oregonian Publishing Group
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s report on global warming
contains some dire predictions for Oregon’s time-honored reputation as a Mecca for coldwater fishermen.
Released July 17, the report warns that the time may come when salmon- and trout-fishing trips are no longer much of an option for residents or visitors. EPA scientists further caution that warming temperatures could lead to a 50- to 100-percent decline in Chinook salmon returns in some areas, since salmon require cool water and are extremely sensitive to increasing temperatures.

Once Oregon is hit by a perfect storm comprised of “a little less snow pack, lower summer water flows and higher summer temperatures, bam! We’ll go over a threshold, and suddenly we won’t have salmon or steelhead or trout,” Martin said.
blog it