The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission has approved a new Grays Harbor salmon-management policy designed to conserve wild salmon runs and clarify catch guidelines for sport and commercial fisheries in the bay.
The commission approved the new policy following a series of public meetings.
Miranda Wecker, commission chair, said the new policy provides clear direction to make conservation of wild salmon the first priority for fishery management in the harbor.
“Most importantly, this policy sends a strong and unmistakable signal about the importance of meeting our conservation objectives, even if that means seriously reining in both sport and commercial fisheries,” Wecker said. “It also represents a fair accommodation for both fisheries when harvestable numbers of fish are present.”
The new policy includes provisions for state-managed fisheries that:
Limit the total catch of wild chinook salmon to a maximum of 5% of the adult return if established spawning goals have not been met in three out of the previous five years.
Prioritize the recreational fishery in allocating the chinook salmon catch between commercial and recreational users.
Allow an increase in the base allocation of chinook salmon for commercial fisheries in years of high abundance.
Structure commercial seasons so that recreational anglers have at least three consecutive days per week to fish when no commercial fisheries take place.
Focus commercial fisheries on coho and chum salmon when harvestable numbers of fish exist.
Since last October, WDFW has held eight public meetings in Grays Harbor to encourage public involvement in the development of the policy. More than 350 written comments were received on the draft policy during that time.
State fishery managers expect to post the final text of the new Grays Harbor Salmon Management Policy on WDFW’s website by mid-February.
Despite a Chinese ban on shellfish from the West Coast, the Washington geoduck industry is shipping off its product to Asia, with the top two destinations being Hong Kong and Vietnam.
The Kitsap Sun reports the Washington State Department of Health issued over 750 certificates in January — more than double issued in January 2013, when shipments were still going into China. These certificates are required to identify the shellfish-growing area and ensure that the seafood is safe to eat.
Of the certificates issued in January, over 400 are being sent into Hong Kong, while over 240 are going to Vietnam.
Meanwhile, tribal and state officials report most of their geoduck divers expect to meet their annual quotas despite the ban.
This week, research from the Washington Academy of Sciences was presented to the Washington State Senate Natural Resources and Parks Committee on a threat to the health of Washington’s forests.
At the request of Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark, the Academy of Sciences produced a report on laminated root rot, a fungal pathogen that has a significant impact on the health of Douglas fir. Laminated root rot was responsible for the closure of Kopachuck State Park in 2011, and due to the longevity of the pathogen, could keep the campground closed for good.
At a hearing, Dr. R James Cook from Washington State University and Dr. Robert Edmonds from University of Washington discussed ways to counteract and minimize the damage already being done by the rot across the state. At the hearing, the scientists underscored the economic impact of laminated root, which can reduce the timber yield of a stand of conifers by 5-15%.
Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark said at the hearing. “These findings will be of tremendous significance to state and private land managers who have experienced environmental and economic loss from this devastating disease.”
While potential solutions were discussed, the message was that more research is needed to understand how this disease spreads from tree to tree. The scientists also called for more research into opportunities to increase resistance using technology currently used in other industries.
A copy of the report is available at the Academy website: http://www.washacad.org/initiatives/files/WSAS_Laminated_Root_Rot_%202013.pdf.
Sportsmen for Wild Olympics have delivered signatures from more than 300 local sportsmen and women on a petition to Senator Murray and Representative Kilmer in support of the Wild Olympics Wilderness & Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.
According to the Wild Olympics campaign, the signers urge the lawmakers to pass the bill, because “Peninsula salmon, trout, and steelhead rely on cold, clean water from upper reaches of rivers & streams on Olympic National Forest. These headwaters & streams are at risk as private industry and small hydro developers try to roll back temporary safeguards on our public lands.”
These signatures follow new endorsements by over two dozen major hunting and fishing organizations and local guides who recently sent a letter to Sen. Murray and Rep. Kilmer urging action to safeguard this area.
Those signing the letter include Waters West Guide Service of Montesano, the Washington Wildlife Federation, Association of Northwest Steelheaders and others.
Both the petition and the letter state that “Only full, Congressionally-designated Wilderness and Wild & Scenic River safeguards will permanently protect backcountry elk habitat and sensitive salmon and steelhead spawning grounds against future development.” The group further notes that the final compromise legislation removed all roads from the proposed wilderness boundaries, ensuring Wild Olympics will not close roads or affect any road or trailhead access.
Sportsmen for Wild Olympics also released a new video called ”Salmon Streams for Our Future” to spotlight the headwaters, rivers and salmon that would be protected under the Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, and the threats they face without permanent protection. The video invites local hunters & anglers to visit the Sportsmen for Wild Olympics website and sign their online petition in support of the Wild Olympics legislation.
Representative Derek Kilmer and Senator Patty Murray reintroduced the Wild Olympics Wilderness & Wild and Scenic Rivers Act on January 16th. First introduced in June of 2012 following years of discussion, the measure would expand the wilderness area in the Olympic National Forest, creating a buffer around Olympic National Park.
According to the Wild Olympics campaign, they have received majority support from the Ocean Shores and Westport City Councils.
The Grays Harbor County Commissioners, Aberdeen City Council, and Cosmopolis City Council have all previously voted in opposition to the legislation.
The Hoquiam City Council previously voted saying they opposed the legislation as it was, but said they were willing to consider a revised plan.
According to Senator Patty Murray, based on additional public input, several changes have been made to the legislation to address concerns and strengthen sections about private landowners’ rights.
Senator Patty Murray
Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act – Senate Bill 1949
Referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
Representative Derek Kilmer
Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 2014 - House Bill 3922
Referred to the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation.
A letter from the Chinese government says a ban of shellfish imports from the U.S. West Coast will continue indefinitely.
The Kitsap Sun reports the letter was sent to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and raises new question about U.S. health standards for shellfish.
The letter dashes hopes of shellfish harvesters in Washington who had hoped the ban would be lifted quickly after U.S. representatives submitted new information about safety standards along with test results that showed geoducks were safe.
The letter from China clarifies the testing procedure used by Chinese authorities who found high levels of paralytic shellfish poison in geoducks harvested in Alaska. PSP, a neurotoxin produced by a type of plankton, can accumulate in shellfish.
Previously, Chinese officials reported finding unacceptable levels of arsenic in geoducks originating from Poverty Bay in South Puget Sound.
The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will consider adopting a new policy to guide salmon management in Grays Harbor at a public meeting scheduled Feb. 7-8 in Tumwater.
The commission will meet both days at the ComfortInnConferenceCenter in Tumwater.
The proposed policy for Grays Harbor includes provisions designed to conserve wild salmon runs, clarify catch allocations, and reduce conflicts between sport and commercial fishers in the bay.
A revised version of the original proposal is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/fisheries/grays_harbor_salmon/.
The commission will accept written comments submitted through the end of today via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA98501-1091.
Washington has an official bird, an official flower, even an official tall ship. Sen. Brian Hatfield is leading the charge to create an official oyster.
Hatfield, D-Raymond, is the prime sponsor of a bill that would designate the Ostrea lurida as the official oyster of Washington .
“This is an opportunity to shed some light on an industry that is a huge economic driver to southwest Washington,” said Hatfield. “Willapa Bay oysters are known the world over and are responsible for hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in Washington’s economy.“
Sometimes called the Olympia oyster, the oyster is native to the Pacific Northwest. Along with being part of the state’s thriving shellfish industry, the oyster also acts as a natural ocean filter, ingesting and cleaning between nine and 12 quarts of sea water per day.
In addition to drawing attention to the state’s shellfish industry, the discussion of a state oyster also sheds light on the challenges facing the industry, Hatfield says. Ocean acidification is an ongoing threat to the waters of Willapa Bay, as are invasive grasses and competing species of shellfish.
“It would be devastating to southwest Washington to turn our back on the threats the shellfish industry is weathering. Yet, those threats may not be apparent to those who do not live and work on the shores of Washington’s coastline,” said Hatfield. “…if lawmakers in Olympia become aware of that threat because we are pushing for the oyster designation, I’m happy.”
Hatfield’s inspiration for the bill did not come from an industry lobbyist or a community petition, but rather from Olympia teenager Claire Thompson, a student at Nova Middle School. Thompson urged Hatfield to propose the bill as part of a school project and to bring attention to threats facing sea life.
“It’s so wonderful to see a young person work so passionately for something like this,” said Hatfield. “I hope Claire’s work on this bill sets an example to all young men and women that they can make their mark on Washington state.”
The Grays Harbor County Commissioners set the date for a Timber Sale that has the total estimated value of $6,330,942.
Commissioner Frank Gordon said the money that does come in from the sale will be spread out different agencies.
“It goes to schools, it goes to the port, it goes around. So, it’s not $6 million coming right into our pocket. It’s being spread out into a lot of places that could use it very, very well.
Gordon also said that the majority of the timber is Douglas Fir and he says there is a great market for that at the moment.
A new report from Canadian officials says fog, fatigue and an “unfamiliarity with safety issues” factored into a collision between two fishing boats off the Olympic Peninsula that left a Port Angeles man dead.
The Peninsula Daily News reports that the Transportation Safety Board of Canada released its findings last week into the September 2012 crash.
The 40-foot Maverick, from LaPush, and the 90-foot Viking Storm, out of Vancouver, British Columbia, collided in heavy fog 35 miles off the coast.
Three of the four crew members of the Maverick abandoned the sinking vessel and were rescued within five minutes, but a fourth crew member, 33-year-old Kelly Dickerson, was trapped in the Maverick.
The report said the Maverick had been drifting overnight without a crew member on lookout duty. Meanwhile, the exhausted mate of the Viking Storm “had not maintained a proper watch” and “left the wheelhouse unattended just prior to the collision.”
The Washington State Department of Natural Resources is now considering nominations for lands to be included in the state Community Forest Trust.
Working forests in Washington are a vital part of our economy, and according to the DNR, since the 1980s, more than 17 percent of Western Washington forests have been converted to other land uses. As working forests vanish, so do many benefits for communities, including local timber, natural resources jobs, clean air and water, and recreation.
In 2011, DNR worked with the state legislature to create a new tool for local community partners to participate in protecting working forestlands that benefit their communities—the Community Forest Trust.
The first state community forest was established in 2013 in the Teanaway River Valley, just north of Cle Elum. This new category of working forestland is held by the state and sustainably managed by DNR.
Local communities interested in having lands included in the Community Forest Trust need to file the request for nominations form by June 2.
Included in the application is a checklist of materials needed to submit a nomination and a desired timeline for the process.