Friday, December 27, 2019

Salish Sea News Week in Review December 27 2019

Asian giant hornet [NBC News]

Asian giant hornet spotted near Blaine, close to B.C. border
In September, a nest of Asian giant hornets was discovered in Nanaimo, now another example has turned up in Blaine, not far from the Canadian border, according to Washington agriculture officials. A property owner, on Dec. 8 reported finding an “unusually large hornet” near their home, which Washington State Department of Agriculture entomologists identified as Vespa mandarinia, more commonly known as the Asian giant hornet. It is an invasive species not previously known to be in Washington state, but this is now the second sighting of the insect in the Pacific Northwest, which is a particular concern because it is a voracious predator that can wreak havoc on bees. Derrick Penner reports. (Vancouver Sun)

745-foot propane tanker crashes into Intalco pier at Cherry Point, officials confirm
A 745-foot tanker carrying highly flammable materials collided with a gas terminal pier used by Alcoa Intalco Works more than a week ago, The Bellingham Herald has confirmed. U.S. Coast Guard officials said Monday, Dec. 23, that the tanker Levant, carrying 33,000 tons of propane and butane, crashed into Intalco’s pier at Cherry Point with enough force to punch a hole in the ship. “It compromised the watertight integrity of their hull,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Trevor Lilburn in Astoria, Ore...It happened at 4:10 a.m Saturday, Dec. 14, as the Levant approached the T-shaped pier west of Ferndale that is owned by Petrogas Pacific LLC and leased by the Intalco aluminum smelting plant. Officials at Petrogas and Intalco weren’t immediately available for comment. Robert Mittendorf reports. (Bellingham Herald)

Earthquakes rattle northern Vancouver Island on Christmas Day
A pair of earthquake struck an area off the northwest coast of Vancouver Island on Christmas Day, the latest in a string of nine earthquakes to hit the region since Monday. Wednesday’s first quake, which measured 3.6, hit at 8:25 a.m. and was centred in the Pacific Ocean about 150 kilometres west of Port Alice. The second measured 4.9 and struck at 12:38 p.m. about 198 kilometres west of Port Hardy. The depth of the both earthquakes was 10 km, which is considered shallow. Scott Brown reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Studies give insight on plight of orca whales
Two studies and a state report released this month build on the efforts to understand what’s impacting the region’s endangered Southern Resident orca whales and what steps could be taken to help save them. Researchers and wildlife managers have for years suggested that the Southern Resident orcas, which spend several months of the year in the Salish Sea and coastal waters of Washington, are struggling to find large, nutrient-rich chinook salmon to eat. Studies recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggest the Southern Resident orcas are competing with other fish-eating orca populations of the North Pacific Ocean and that orca calves born to families without grandmothers have a lesser chance of finding chinook to eat and surviving to adulthood. Meanwhile, a draft state report released Dec. 20 concludes it’s not clear whether a move long called for by environment and wildlife groups — to remove dams on the lower Snake River — would significantly boost the number of fish available to the region’s orcas. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

Escape of non-native salmon on B.C. coast puts farm phase-out plan in spotlight
The escape of an estimated 20,000 non-native fish off Vancouver Island demonstrates the urgent need to phase out ocean-based farming and calls into question the federal government's own five-year deadline, say wild salmon advocates. Stan Proboszcz, science and campaign adviser with the Watershed Watch Society, said the salmon escape may have ecological impacts on already struggling wild stocks...He said Atlantic salmon can compete with wild Pacific salmon for food and habitat, as well as spread parasites and viruses. (CBC)

West Coast fishery rebounds in rare conservation 'home run'
A rare environmental success story is unfolding in waters off the U.S. West Coast. After years of fear and uncertainty, bottom trawler fishermen — those who use nets to scoop up rockfish, bocaccio, sole, Pacific Ocean perch and other deep-dwelling fish — are making a comeback here, reinventing themselves as a sustainable industry less than two decades after authorities closed huge stretches of the Pacific Ocean because of the species’ depletion. The ban devastated fishermen, but on Jan. 1, regulators will reopen an area roughly three times the size of Rhode Island off Oregon and California to groundfish bottom trawling — all with the approval of environmental groups that were once the industry’s biggest foes. The two sides collaborated on a long-term plan that will continue to resuscitate the groundfish industry while permanently protecting thousands of square miles of reefs and coral beds that benefit the overfished species. Gillian Flaccus reports. (Associated Press)

In our backyard: What climate change in Canada looks like
People are losing their homes to wildfires. They are dealing with floods. Their loved ones are dying in extreme heat. Their houses are falling into the sea. Climate change is no longer theoretical. It’s in our backyard. Here are four snapshots of this new reality — and what we’re doing about it. (CBC)

A Trump Policy ‘Clarification’ All but Ends Punishment for Bird Deaths
As the state of Virginia prepared for a major bridge and tunnel expansion in the tidewaters of the Chesapeake Bay last year, engineers understood that the nesting grounds of 25,000 gulls, black skimmers, royal terns and other seabirds were about to be plowed under. To compensate, they considered developing an artificial island as a safe haven. Then in June 2018, the Trump administration stepped in. While the federal government “appreciates” the state’s efforts, new rules in Washington had eliminated criminal penalties for “incidental” migratory bird deaths that came in the course of normal business, administration officials advised. Such conservation measures were now “purely voluntary.” The state ended its island planning. Lisa Friedman reports. (NY Times)

95 Environmental Rules Being Rolled Back Under Trump
President Trump has made eliminating federal regulations a priority. His administration, with help from Republicans in Congress, has often targeted environmental rules it sees as burdensome to the fossil fuel industry and other big businesses. A New York Times analysis, based on research from Harvard Law School, Columbia Law School and other sources, counts more than 90 environmental rules and regulations rolled back under Mr. Trump. Our list represents two types of policy changes: rules that were officially reversed and rollbacks still in progress. 58 rollbacks completed; 37 rollbacks in process;95 total rollbacks. Nadja Popovich, Livia Albeck-Ripka and Kendra Pierre-Louis report. (NY Times)

Proposed hunting regulations reveal a bleak picture for some B.C. wildlife
Newly proposed hunting regulations put forward by the B.C. government reveal a bleak snapshot of several declining wild animal populations in the province. Many of the proposed regulations, released last week, recommend tighter hunting restrictions for ungulates such as deer, elk, moose and caribou.  "Generally speaking, I would say that the trend is that there are declining populations in a number of areas of the province," said Jennifer Psyllakis, director of the wildlife habitat branch with B.C.'s Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. Psyllakis said the proposed regulations, which include rationales for the government's recommendations, are a response to what they're seeing in certain wildlife populations. Josh PagĂ© and Dominika Lirette report. (CBC)

10 of the wildest discoveries Washington scientists made in 2019
Here are just a few of the amazing things Washingtonians discovered in labs, in the field and elsewhere that you may have missed. Hannah Weinberger reports. (Crosscut)

These news clips are a selection of weekday clips collected in Salish Sea News and Weather which is compiled as a community service by Mike Sato. To subscribe, send your name and email to msato (@) Your email information is never shared and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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