Commercial crab fishing – why so much trash in the sea?

Click the above text “Commercial crab fishing – why so much trash in the sea?” to see this entire post.

For the past decade I’ve picked up many thousands of crab trap buoys off the beaches of the Marin coast. Many times that of broken bits and pieces of the same buoys. Miles (and hundreds of pounds) of plastic rope, untangled from piles of bull kelp, colied and packed miles off the beaches. Hundreds of plastic bait containers and gallon bleach jugs and other bits and pieces of toxic trash lost or dumped by the commercial (and sport) crab fishing fleet that works the waters off the nutrient rich waters north of the Golden Gate.

While all crab fishermen lose gear each year, some more than others. Not all of them are ignorant of the problem all this plastic poses to the very sea they attempt to make a living from. I know one fellow in particular who does his very best to not lose any gear, as well as to educate his fellow fishermen on how to be a steward of the sea.

I’ve asked him if he could get the fishermen to walk the local beaches as I do and help pick up all the garbage their efforts curse the sea and coast with. “I’ve asked the fishermen’s association to do beach cleanups Richard, more than once. And you know what they say to me? No.”

Is this the attitude of a steward?

What if consumers said no to crab?

The Department of Fish & Wildlife appears to oversee more than one group that feels entitled to exploit public waters for profit, and often make a mess in the process. Then expect the public to clean up after them.

Will DFW ever work as hard protecting the environment from their lessees as they do in promoting extractive (destructive) industries?

I urge the fishermen of California (and Oregon) who work the magnificent waters off our shore to re-double their efforts in becoming authentic stewards of the sea as they harvest their bounty.

At the current rate of more than 8 million metric tons of plastic dumped into the ocean globally each year (and growing), by the year 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean (by mass) than fish. We can and MUST do a better job of protecting our planet.

Below are some images showing a tiny fraction of the crab gear I have packed off Marin beaches.

As always, click on the image to see a larger version.
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More crab gear removed from beaches in years gone by

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Click on image for bigger picture – Should the price of crab reflect the cost to the planet?

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Washington State Dept. of Ecology DENIES permit to spray neurotoxin in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor! Please comment and show your support

Click on the text above “Washington State Dept. of Ecology DENIES permit…” to see this entire post.

Shellfish growers from Willapa Grays Harbor Oyster Growers Association (WGHOGA) have requested a permit to use the pesticide imidacloprid on oyster beds in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor to control native burrowing shrimp.

After carefully considering this request, we have determined that the proposal cannot meet Washington’s environmental protection laws. Therefore, we are denying the request for a permit.

Please write the WA Dept. of Ecology and show your support for them reaching the correct outcome. This is a tentative decision and your support will help cement the deal. Please write!

Articles on this great news may be found at the following links:

Seattle Times – April 9, 2018

Beyond Pesticides – April 11, 2018

Peninsula Daily News – April 11, 2018

Best Management Practices for California aquaculture – still waiting for them…

Below you will find an update on my ongoing efforts to protect Tomales Bay from the historically poor practices of shellfish growers, and a long history of virtually no oversight by the California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW) and the California Fish & Game Commission (CFGC). The CFGC leases state water bottoms in California to shellfish growers. Given the shortage of suitable coastline with clean water, you’d think the CFGC would be charging a premium rent (supply and demand). You would be wrong. More on that in a future post.

If you care for Tomales Bay and want to protect it, please write the following people and tell them to implement and enforce strong Best Management Practices over shellfish growers. Tell them to fix the woefully inadequate escrow cleanup bond system. And kindly ask them to make a better effort at enforcing existing litter laws and to regularly monitor aquaculture statewide. Our state bays and estuaries are priceless treasures for ALL to enjoy.

Valerie Termini – Executive Director of California Fish & Game Commission (CFGC) – Sacramento, CA fgc@fgc.ca.gov

Susan Ashcraft – Marine Advisor to the California Fish & Game Commission (CFGC) – Sacramento, CA Susan.Ashcraft@fgc.ca.gov

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Responsibly practiced shellfish aquaculture, properly sited, adds value to life in the form of delicious shellfish, jobs and the continuation of a long tradition. Authentic stewardship is paramount to assuring this practice does no harm to the precious bays and estuaries of the ever changing (and rising) sea.

Three things I have been requesting since I set out to right numerous wrongs are:

1) Growers need to stop losing so much plastic, wood and other gear. They also need to regularly pick up the debris that they do lose. All of the legacy debris left by growers from days gone by needs to be removed from the bay.

2)      A. Best Management Practices (BMP) need to be developed and become an   enforceable part of being allowed to profit from public trust tidelands.

2)      B. The cleanup fund escrow system to address abandoned infrastructure and other damages done to a lease needs to be redone so that it is actually applied, AND is not based on cost estimates made by the growers themselves.

3) CFGC and CDFW need to actually DO their job: regular monitoring of leases, enforce existing laws, ensure growers are not diverting creeks with un-permitted structures or altering the bay-floor by dumping large quantity of oyster shells or other materials into the bay.

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Let’s look at each of these in more detail.

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1) Growers need to stop losing so much plastic, wood and other gear. They also need to regularly pick up the debris that they do lose. All of the legacy debris left by growers from days gone by needs to be removed from the bay.

This is taking place. The growers are losing less gear and making a noticeable effort to pick up that gear still getting loose.

There is still room for improvement, as bags and other culturing devices are still getting loose. But overall, a vast improvement!

Thank you growers!

Unfortunately, much of the legacy debris continues to blight the beauty of Tomales Bay. You can see what I am talking about here.

2-A Best Management Practices (BMP) need to be developed and become an   enforceable part of being allowed to profit from public trust tidelands.

On April 8, 2015 (1087 days ago and counting), a proposed list of BMP that I drafted were delivered to the CFGC at their commission meeting in Santa Rosa. The growers and numerous agencies have mulled over and massaged this list since then.

The latest revision put forth by the CFGC is very close to what I originally proposed, except it does not include that growers must mark all their gear with their name & phone number. Marking all gear is important in order to ensure growers practice authentic stewardship.

My most recent iteration of what I think are good common sense BMP are below.

 

These BMPs shall be an integral part of each lease. The practices shall be mandatory practices meant to ensure Tomales Bay and the ocean in general is kept free of lost plastic and other debris from aquaculture operations.

To have the intended effect of reducing litter in Tomales Bay attributed to aquaculture, it is imperative that these practices be adequately and regularly enforced.

Harming the environment is a criminal matter, not an administrative matter.

 

  1. Growers shall uniquely and clearly identify all of their gear with company name and phone number. Possible means of uniquely marking gear include: unique colors of bags, wires, tags, PVC pipes, rope, and “branding info into gear.”

 

  1. Growers shall train all employees in concepts of Leave No Trace, see http://LNT.org, or similar training about environmental stewardship.

 

  1. Growers shall continually improve gear and methods in a quest to lose less gear.

 

  1. Growers shall replace single use items (i.e. zip-ties, copper wires) with more durable items such as stainless halibut clips.

 

  1. Growers shall NOT use floats that are easily degraded by sunlight or pecked by birds in search of food.

 

  1. Growers shall securely tie large groups of non-floating bags together when deploying bags for future securing to anchor lines to ensure they do not drift.

 

  1. Growers shall remove all tools and materials each day after working on lease areas, including: fencepost drivers, gloves, water bottles, PVC pipes, wires, and ropes. Work barges shall be secured to ensure items are not blown into the bay.

 

  1. Growers shall NOT dump shells, lumber, bags or other debris on the bay floor to walk upon or for any reason.

 

  1. Growers shall promptly (within 90 days) remove culture structures and other items comprising a method that did not work as desired or is no longer used.

 

  1. Growers shall patrol lease areas and the shores of Tomales Bay on a monthly basis, twice monthly during windy or heavy surf times. Patrols must occur at both high and low tides to ensure gear buried in the mud is promptly collected.

 

  1. Growers shall uniquely and clearly identify all of their boats and barges. Boats should be clearly identifiable with binoculars from a distance of 1 mile. Unique color, large letter and/or number or combinations of these may work.

 

To support item 11 above, the below images show some of the boats used by various growers. Notice how many of the boats look identical. Also shown is one suggested ID method to allow distant observers to know which grower a particular boat belongs to. Also, how many of these boats are properly licensed?

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The reason for my concern centers on the damage done to the eel grass beds on or near the leases. Below are three images recorded from overhead, showing deep and permanent damage done to the eel grass by the propellers of boats accessing the lease areas.

Click on the image to enlarge it.

Click on the image to enlarge it.

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On numerous occasions I have witnessed oyster boats operating at low tides, attempting to access areas of the bay not deep enough to access without driving the prop of the boat into the bottom of the bay, destroying everything that the prop meets, like a blender, loudly throwing a tall, brown rooster-tail into the air, easily visible/audible from a mile+ away.

If boats were clearly labeled, interested stakeholders would be able to give the Commission/Department accurate information with which to hopefully take action.

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The below images show the reasoning behind item 8.

Growers shall NOT dump shells, lumber, bags or other debris on the bay floor to walk upon or for any reason.

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2-B The cleanup fund escrow system to address abandoned infrastructure needs to be redone so that it is actually applied, AND is not based on cost estimates made by the growers themselves.

The figure below (from K. Ramey files acquired via Public Records Access [PRA]) shows how much has been contributed (allegedly) by each grower. Total on account (allegedly) is $106,255.

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Click on the image to enlarge it.

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Below is an image showing part of the main contract paid by the NPS for the cleanup of aquaculture debris left by DBOC in Drakes Estero. This is not the entire sum. Beyond the $3,460,750 shown below were other substantial fees associated with the removal of oysters and clams left by DBOC.

Important to note is the self-assessed cleanup cost given to the Fish & Game Commission by DBOC for two years running: $10,000

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Click on the image to enlarge it.

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Below are images of some current leases, showing rough dimensions as well as the amount paid into the escrow fund.

These values are self-assessed cost estimates provided by the growers.

Have you ever been asked by a landlord how much of a cleaning deposit you think you ought to pay?

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3) CFGC and CDFW need to actually DO their job: regular monitoring of leases, enforce existing laws, ensure growers are not diverting creeks with un-permitted structures or altering the bay-floor by dumping large quantity of oyster shells or other materials into the bay.

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This request needs no further support.

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The slide seen below was created by the State Aquaculture Coordinator.
The yellow text I have highlighted reads: “Emphasize CA’s strict environmental standards as advantage”

How can one have an advantage based on strict standards if the laws those standards are based on are not enforced?

Please enforce current laws!

Click image to enlarge it.

If you care for Tomales Bay and want to protect it, please write the following people and tell them to implement and enforce strong Best Management Practices over shellfish growers. Tell them to fix the woefully inadequate escrow cleanup bond system. And kindly ask them to make a better effort at enforcing existing litter laws and to regularly monitor aquaculture statewide. Our state bays and estuaries are priceless treasures for ALL to enjoy.

Valerie Termini – Executive Director of California Fish & Game Commission (CFGC) – Sacramento, CA fgc@fgc.ca.gov

Susan Ashcraft – Marine Advisor to the California Fish & Game Commission (CFGC) – Sacramento, CA Susan.Ashcraft@fgc.ca.gov

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Iceland supermarket vows to eliminate plastic on all own-branded products!

Click on the words above “Iceland supermarket vows to eliminate plastic…” to see this entire post.

Talk about positive action!

Iceland has become the first major retailer to commit to eliminate plastic packaging for all its own-brand products.

The supermarket chain, which specialises in frozen food, said it would go plastic-free within five years to help end the “scourge” of plastic pollution.

The current plastic packaging would be replaced with paper and pulp trays and paper bags, which would be recyclable through domestic waste collections or in-store recycling facilities.

The supermarket recently carried out a survey in which 80% of 5,000 people polled said they would endorse the move to go plastic-free.

Read the entire story here.

As you can see from what I collected below Slide Ranch on Monday, the US would be wise to follow suit.

The road to get to Slide Ranch directly has been closed for some time and only recently opened to one-way traffic. It has been over 2 years since I have picked up this area.
What you see below is a tiny fraction of what is down there. I was short on time and could only do a quick sweep of a small portion of the beach.

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Slide Ranch and the southern Marin Coast

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The Washington Dept. of Ecology completed the final environmental assessment of a proposal to use the pesticide imidacloprid to control burrowing shrimp.

Click on the words above “The Washington Dept. of Ecology completed the final…” to see this entire post.

The supplemental environmental review found:

 

  • Significant impacts to sediment quality and benthic invertebrates.
  • Adverse impacts to juvenile worms and crustaceans in the areas treated with imidacloprid and the nearby areas covered by incoming tides.
  • Concern about non-lethal impacts to invertebrates in the water column and sediment.
  • New information shows a risk of impacts from imidacloprid even at low concentrations.
  • Likely indirect impacts to fish and birds if food sources are disrupted.
  • Little known direct risk to fish, birds, marine mammals, and human health.
  • Increased uncertainty about long-term, non-lethal, and cumulative impacts.
  • Continued knowledge gaps about imidacloprid.

Read more here.

This matters to everyone, not just Washingtonians. Nearly a quarter of the oysters grown in the US are grown in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor.

These oysters are shipped all over, including to growers on Tomales Bay.

Read more about imidacloprid, the neurotoxin Washington growers want to spray in local waters to kill native shrimp here.

Washington State shellfish growers propose spraying of neurotoxin over coastal bays

Click on the words above “Washington State shellfish growers” to see this entire post.

The banner image above shows the terminals at Grays Harbor.

After watching their promotional video below, you might ask yourself
“What’s in that Grays Harbor water, is it clean enough to grow food for human consumption?”

Watch a public hearing on this issue here. Meeting was held 10 Oct. in Lacey WA, near Olympia.

Watch a public hearing on this issue here. Meeting was held 7 Oct. in South Bend WA, at Willapa Bay.

Shellfish growers from Willapa Grays Harbor Oyster Growers Association (WGHOGA) have requested a permit to use the pesticide imidacloprid on burrowing shrimp in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor.

You can read more about this here.

Both bodies of water are located on the Washington State coast, SW of Puget Sound.

Shellfish growers in Tomales Bay import oysters grown in Willapa Bay from time to time.

Please comment on the proposed spraying of toxic pesticides, you can do so here< NOTE: COMMENT PERIOD IS CLOSED

Read all comments here.

Read a letter from Washington Fish and Wildlife Office here.

Read a letter from the National Marine Fisheries Service here.

Read a letter from The Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides here.

Let Washington State know that spraying a highly toxic, highly soluble, and highly persistent pesticide in Willapa Bay is unacceptable. Other methods to grow oysters can be used.

Please let Tomales Bay shellfish growers know that you will NOT buy oysters grown by those who poison the ocean.

The poison in question has been directly linked to the widespread deaths of honeybees worldwide, known as Colony Collapse Disorder CCD. Read about that here.

Speak up to protect Humboldt Bay from harmful expansion by Coast Seafood

Click on the words above “Speak up to protect Humboldt Bay…” to see this entire post.

Coast Seafood has once again applied to expand their shellfish growing operation on Humboldt Bay.

Description of proposed project is here.

Please write the Army Corps of Engineers before 20 April with your request that this expansion be denied.

Be sure to note the Public Notice number of PN-2002-26912N. Highlight the environmental impacts of allowing the expansion rather then simply stating “I am against the expansion.”

These may include: Impact on eel grass, which then impacts brant, salmon, steelhead, coastal cutthroat. If you are a duck hunter, this will certainly impact your ability to navigate on the bay, as well as the number of brant feeding (or not) in the bay. The added plastic that will escape into the ocean is another cause for concern.

Those of us that value the natural diversity supported by an untrampled bay over increased oyster production ask that this expansion be denied.

As in Tomales Bay, shellfish operations in Humboldt Bay harm the eel grass beds that serve an important role for many, many species beyond the non-native oysters, clams and mussels grown for private profit on public lands. Two groups of animals of particular concern are the black brant and a number of salmonids (chinook salmon, coho salmon, steelhead trout and sea-run coastal cutthroat trout. Eel grass provides food for the brant (their main food source) and it provides refugia (cover) for the salmonids when they are young and need a place to hide.

Expanding shellfish operations on another 256 acres would significantly impact a large number of species that rest and feed on Humboldt Bay. Coast already has approximately 300 acres upon which to profit.

Please write L. Kasey Sirkin (l.k.sirkin@usace.army.mil) at the Army Corps of Engineers with your concerns.
The deadline for comments is 20 April, so please do this now.

See what Eureka Resident Susan Penn has to say on this important issue here.

Below are some documents that will educate you on the issues at hand.

Comments on the application from Audubon of California, EarthJustice and Oceana

Download (PDF, 1.45MB)

 

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers comments on this project.

Download (PDF, 165KB)

 

National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) comments on this project.

Download (PDF, 1.42MB)

NPS battles global warming by installing refrigerator on North Beach

Please click on the above words “NPS battles global warming by installing refrigerator on North Beach” to see this entire press release.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

News Release Date: April 1, 2017
Contact: Amanda Sidebyside, 415-464-5678

Park Service scientists have determined that the ocean is just too darn warm.

To cool things off a bit, they have begun installing refrigeration units along Point Reyes Beaches with doors removed, set to cold.

The first device was installed at North Beach this past week.

As soon as all necessary extension cords have been installed, additional units will be deployed at 50 foot intervals from The Golden Gate north to the southern tower of the Pierce Point – Bodega Bridge and set on cold with the doors removed.

Please do not remove any of the shellfish from the refrigeration units, they are used for calibration purposes.

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Stop Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay Alaska – Yes to Sockeye Salmon – No Pebble Mine

Click on the words above “Stop Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay Alaska – Yes to Sockeye Salmon – No Pebble Mine” to see this entire post.

Please write the EPA now to protect this one of a kind salmon fishery in Alaska.

Tell EPA Administrator Pruitt: Protect American Jobs – Pebble Mine is the Wrong Mine in the Wrong Place

Learn more watching a trailer for The Breach – Feature Documentary Film.

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We must protect wild salmon runs. Farmed salmon is NOT the answer.

The answer is to leave nature be and let her do what she’s done forever.

Learn about Marin’s endangered coho salmon and steelhead here.

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Red male and darker female coho salmon spawning on Lagunitas Creek, 9 Decmber, 2012 ©Richard James

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