Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Watchdog Group Audit Finds Serious Flaws in Protection of Puget Sound Nearshore Habitats

NEWS RELEASE
April 9, 2013

Contact: Amy Carey, Sound Action (206) 745-2441

NEW PUGET SOUND WATCHDOG GROUP ‘SOUND ACTION’ FINDS SERIOUS FLAWS IN PROTECTION OF SOUND’S NEARSHORE HABITATS. RELEASES AUDIT OF STATE OF WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE PERMITTING ACTIONS


(Seattle, WA)  Organizers who defeated an international company’s efforts to mine and ship gravel from Maury Island today announced the launch of Sound Action, a new environmental group dedicated to using science, activism and law to protect Puget Sound’s natural nearshore habitats.

“The Puget Sound nearshore is the nursery of the Sound,” said Sound Action’s Executive Director Amy Carey. “But Puget Sound today is documented as a critically imperiled waterway in part because regulatory agencies are failing in their mandated role as environmental protectors.

According to Sound Action, regulatory agencies regularly ignore existing laws prohibiting environmentally damaging nearshore developments during permit review and approval and fail to condition how work done should protect species and habitat productivity.

Sound Action recently conducted an audit of nearshore development permits issued under the state’s Hydraulic Permit Approval (HPA) program and found serious deficiencies in how the program is administered by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“Negative impacts to the nearshore area – which is the Sound’s most ecologically productive part of the food web – occurs with almost every bulkhead, dock and stormwater outfall allowed,” said Carey.


Review by Sound Action found that approximately 90% of the permits approved did not contain appropriate timing restrictions to protect forage fish when spawning and over 95% lacked protections for lingcod and rock sole – which are listed as species of concern.  30% of the permits approved contained no protection for juvenile salmonids.

As a result of these findings, Sound Action will be working to review all future nearshore HPA permit applications under WDFW consideration, providing oversight to ensure that the agency follows the existing laws that were developed to protect vital Puget Sound ecosystems. In the event these laws are not followed, Sound Action will utilize legal actions.

“Our work may expand to other regulatory areas in Puget Sound but our first task is to focus on the HPA program and make sure each permit does what the law requires,” said Sound Action board president Susie Kalhorn.

For more information, visit Sound Action’s website.

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