World’s Biggest Sockeye Run Shut Down as Wild Pacific Salmon Fight for Survival


 Salmon have been swimming in Pacific Northwest waters for at least 7 million years, as indicated by fossils of large saber-tooth salmon found in the area. During that time, they’ve been a key species in intricate, interconnected coastal ecosystems, bringing nitrogen and other nutrients from the ocean and up streams and rivers to spawning grounds, feeding whales, bears and eagles and fertilizing the magnificent coastal rainforests along the way.

Salmon have been swimming in Pacific Northwest waters for at least seven million years.iStockFor as long as people have lived in the area, salmon have been an important food source and have helped shape cultural identities. But something is happening to Pacific coast salmon.

This year, British Columbia’s sockeye salmon run was the lowest in recorded history. Commercial and First Nations fisheries on the world’s biggest sockeye run on British Columbia’s longest river, the Fraser, closed. Fewer than 900,000 sockeye out of a projected 2.2 million returned to the Fraser to spawn. Areas once teeming with salmon are all but empty.

Salmon define West Coast communities, especially Indigenous ones. The West Coast is a Pacific salmon forest. Today, salmon provide food and contribute to sustainable economies built on fishing and ecotourism. West Coast children learn about the salmon life cycle early in their studies.

Salmon migrations, stretching up to 3,000 kilometers, are among the world’s most awe-inspiring. After spending adult lives in the ocean, salmon make the arduous trip up rivers against the current, returning to spawn and die where they hatched. Only one out of every thousand salmon manages to survive and return to its freshwater birthplace.

So what’s going wrong? Climate change is amplifying a long list of stressors salmon already face. Sockeye salmon are sensitive to temperature changes, so higher ocean and river temperatures can have serious impacts. Even small degrees of warming can kill them. Low river flows from unusually small snowpacks linked to climate change make a tough journey even harder.

Oceans absorb the brunt of our climate pollution—more than 90 percent of emissions-trapped heat since the 1970s. Most warming takes place near the surface, where salmon travel, with the upper 75 meters warming 0.11 C per decade between 1971 and 2010. Although ocean temperatures have always fluctuated, climate change is lengthening those fluctuations. A giant mass of warmer-than-average water in the Pacific, known as “the blob,” made ocean conditions even warmer, with El Niño adding to increased temperatures. Salmon have less food and face new predators migrating north to beat the heat.

Beyond creating poor environmental conditions for salmon, climate change increases disease risks. Warm conditions have led to sea lice outbreaks in farmed and wild salmon, and a heart and muscle inflammatory disease has been found in at least one farm. Scientists researching salmon movement through areas with farms are finding wild fish, especially young ones, with elevated parasite levels. Diseases that cause even slight deficiencies in swimming speed or feeding ability could make these marathon swimmers easy prey.


UK to ban fishing from a million square kilometres of ocean

Government creates marine protected areas around four islands in the Pacific and Atlantic, with commercial fishing banned in some areas
One of the world’s biggest marine protected ares will be created around the Pitcairn Islands

Adam Vaughan
Thursday 15 September 2016 06.

In total, the government is creating marine protected areas around four islands in the Pacific and Atlantic, including the designation this week of one of the world’s biggest around the Pitcairn Islands.

A 840,000 sq km (320,000 sq mile) area around Pitcairn, where the mutineers of the Bounty settled, becomes a no-take zone for any fishing from this week. St Helena, around 445,000 sq km of the south Atlantic ocean and home to whale sharks and humpbacks, is now also designated as a protected area.

The foreign office said it would designate two further marine protection zones, one each around two south Altantic islands – Ascension by 2019 and Tristan da Cunha by 2020.
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Sir Alan Duncan, minister of state for Europe and the Americas, said: “Protecting 4m sq km of ocean is a fantastic achievement, converting our historic legacy into modern environmental success.”

Commercial fishing will be banned in all of Pitcairn’s zone – excepting ‘sustainable’ local fishing – and half of the 445,390 sq km Ascension protected area. Fishing will be allowed in the other areas, but activities such as oil drilling will be prohibited.

Conservationists welcomed the new protections. “By protecting the vast array of marine life within these rich waters, the United Kingdom has solidified its position as a leader in ocean conservation,” said Joshua S Reichert, of the Pew Charitable Trusts, which is working with the UK on technology to monitor the Pitcairn area.

Jonathan Hall, the RSPB’s head of UK Overseas Territories, said: “This is simply enormous and shows world-leading vision.”


The UK announcement, at the Our Oceans summit in Washington, came as the White House said the US would ban fishing in a 5,000 sq km area in the Altantic, known as the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts marine national monument. That followed Barack Obama’s expansion last month of the Papahānaumokuākea monument off Hawaii.

In his speech at the Washington conference, Duncan quipped: “this was going to have been my big moment, because until last week the Pitcairn MPA would have been the largest in the world. But President Obama sort of rather blew that out of the water by announcing an even bigger MPA in Hawaii – trust the Yanks to indulge in a bit of one-upmanship over us poor Brits.

“But we’re happy as our loss is the world’s gain and we congratulate the United States.”

This week, scientists warned that humanity is driving an unprecedented extinction of the largest marine creatures that could affect ocean ecology for millions of years. Experts said the large range required for such creatures meant large-scale marine protected areas would be a key part of addressing the problem.

Gruesome photos of entangled whale show need for reporting, DFO says

Rescuers say a humpback whale entangled off the coast of Bella Bella was one of the worst cases they’ve ever seen.

Gord Kurbis, Comox Valley Videographer

Tuesday, September 14, 2016 4:15PM PDT

Warning: Some of the images in this story are graphic.

Rescuers have come to the aid of yet another humpback whale entangled in debris left in B.C. water, and photos show it’s one of the most severe cases yet.

Photos taken by a wildlife tour guide show the humpback completely wrapped up in ropes and in need of desperate assistance.

“This animal was definitely in major distress, and just with the ropes, the tight tension, that were wrapping around the animal and seeing the skin and the abrasions and the bleedings, it was awful to see,” said Paul Cottrell of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

“This animal definitely couldn’t have survived too long under that kind of tension.”

Experts say the whale may have already been entangled in debris when it got snagged on an anchor line at an empty Marine Harvest fish farm near Bella Bella.

“There was a rope through the animal’s mouth and wrapped around the head,” said Cottrell.

The whale was tangled up at the farm for hours when help finally arrived and freed it. Photos show multiple bloody abrasions on its body and a thick rope wrapped around its head.

entangled whale bella bella keyed version

Photos show the damage done to a humpback whale that became entangled in debris off the Bella Bella coast. Sept. 12, 2016. (Photo courtesy Philip Charles)

“This if the first time this has ever happened to us,” said Marine Harvest spokesman Ian Roberts. “So we’ll review the situation and see how our anchor lines may have contributed to this event, and if we need to make changes to our farms, we’ll make them across all our farms if that’s needed.”

Marine educators say it appears a staggering 47 per cent of humpbacks in B.C. waters have been entangled at one time or another.

They also say the two most important messages to get out after the most recent incident is making sure the public knows to report entanglements to the marine mammal hotline – and to not attempt a rescue themselves.

“If we get the call and we can get there, our success rate is huge,” said Cottrell. “It’s all about the 1-800 number, and not having people engage with the animal and trying to cut gear off, because that’s made situations worse in the past.”

The DFO believes the freed whale will stay in the general area for the foreseeable future and said staff will monitor the animal’s recovery and health over the next several weeks.

In June following another whale entanglement, Cottrell said he’s seen an increase in entanglements in recent months, but that could be because of increased reporting.

Anyone who sees an entangled marine mammal is asked to report it to the 24/7 hotline at 1-800-465-4336.

entangled whale bella bella keyed

An anchor line became wrapped around the head of a humpback whale off the Bella Bella coast. Sept. 12, 2016. (Photo courtesy Philip Charles)

Thousands of cormorants abandon their nests

By Cassandra Profita

Oregon Public Broadcasting

Published on May 20, 2016 11:33AM

Last changed on May 23, 2016 10:03AM

A month-old double-crested cormorant at the Wildlife Center of the North Coast.

Joshua Bessex/The Daily Astorian

A month-old double-crested cormorant at the Wildlife Center of the North Coast.

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A double-crested cormorant rests atop of nest of eggs in the colony on East Sand Island.

The Daily Astorian/File Photo

A double-crested cormorant rests atop of nest of eggs in the colony on East Sand Island.

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Officials say thousands of cormorants abandoned their nests on East Sand Island in the Columbia River and they don’t know why. Reports indicate as many as 16,000 adult birds in the colony left their eggs behind to be eaten by predators including eagles, seagulls and crows.

The birds’ mysterious departure comes after the latest wave of government-sanctioned cormorant shooting. It’s part of a campaign to reduce the population of birds that are eating imperiled Columbia River salmon.

Amy Echols, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said the contractors who monitor the birds for the Corps reported May 16 that the East Sand Island colony had been significantly disturbed.

“The disturbance resulted in nest abandonment and the loss of all the cormorants’ eggs by avian predators like seagulls, eagles and crows,” she said. “We don’t know yet what the cause of the disturbance was.”

Officials didn’t see any evidence of a coyote or any other four-legged predator, but they did see 16 bald eagles on the island.

“Bald eagles are known to significantly startle and disperse nesting colonies,” Echols said. “We don’t know if that magnitude of bald eagles could have done this.”
Eagles may not be responsible
Bald eagles have been blamed for decimating Caspian tern and cormorant colonies on the island in the past. But Dan Roby, a researcher with Oregon State University who has studied the tern and cormorant colonies for decades, said he doesn’t think eagles could have flushed so many cormorants off their nests.

“I’m pretty confident that’s not what caused the cormorants to abandon the colony,” he said. “We’ve seen that number of eagles out there before. We’ve seen them killing cormorants on their nests, and it doesn’t cause that kind of abandonment.”

Roby said researchers on his team did an aerial survey of the island on Tuesday and saw a large group of cormorants on another part of the island. But the nesting area was completely abandoned.

“There were absolutely no cormorants anywhere in the colony,” he said. “It’s a real mystery for us. It actually amazes me that any kind of disturbance — even people going on the island if that’s what happened — could cause all the birds to leave their nests with eggs and then gather on the shoreline as if they were afraid to go back to their nests. It’s certainly unprecedented in all the years we were out there working on that cormorant colony.”
Biologists investigating
Echols said about 4,000 birds have returned to the island, but not the nesting area. A team of biologists is investigating what caused the birds to flee their nests.

Federal agents have been shooting cormorants in the area and oiling cormorant eggs on the island as part of a long-term plan to shrink the cormorant colony and reduce how many threatened and endangered salmon the birds are eating. They reported killing 209 cormorants between May 12 and Wednesday.

Officials haven’t attributed the disturbance of the cormorant colony to any shooting or egg oiling activity. Echols said the last time the agents were oiling eggs on the island was May 11. Agents were on the water shooting cormorants on May 16, she said, but they have now stopped all culling activities because the number of cormorants in the colony has dropped below the level where they’re required to stop.
Vocal critic
Bob Sallinger with the Portland Audubon Society has been a vocal critic of the Corps’ cormorant management plan. He said colony failure has been one of his chief concerns as federal agencies shrink the size of the cormorant population.

“When you do that, you make a population extremely vulnerable,” he said. “Regardless of whether this abandonment was caused by eagles or their own activities, the fact is they’ve gone in there and deliberately decimated the population. Federal agencies have deliberately put the western population of cormorants at direct risk, and it needs to stop.”

Echols said federal officials are monitoring the Columbia River estuary to see where all the cormorants have gone.

Roby said it’s still early enough in their breeding season that the birds could still return to their nests and lay more eggs to avoid complete colony failure for the year.

Sea Shepherd Intercepts Fleet of Illegal Fishing Vessels in the Indian Ocean – High Seas Pursuit Now Underway. .

– High Seas Pursuit Now Underway.

The Sea Shepherd ship, under the command of Captain Siddharth Chakravarty, has now engaged in a pursuit of on…Show more

Sea Shepherd Global - Sea Shepherd Intercepts Fleet of Illegal Fishing Vessels in the Indian Ocean preview image

Sea Shepherd Global – Sea Shepherd Intercepts Fleet of Illegal Fishing Vessels in the Indian Ocean

High Seas Pursuit Now Underway The Fu Yuan Yu 076, currently on the run from the Steve Irwin. Photo: Tim Watters Sea Shepherd’s


Video: Sea Shepherd Saved a Life Today‏

From Captain Oona Layolle


Dear Friends,

While patrolling the vaquita refuge for illegal gillnets this weekend, we discovered a humpback whale hopelessly entangled in a gillnet. We knew that it was a race against time to save this exhausted humpback. Our crew jumped into action to rescue the whale from drowning and I notified the Mexican Navy and the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (PROFEPA).

Since mid-January, the crews of the R/V Martin Sheen and M/V Farley Mowat have worked tirelessly to find illegal gillnets and remove them from the Vaquita Refuge in the Gulf of California. Removing gillnets is vital to the survival of both the vaquita and the totoaba bass.

Gillnets are nets of death, trapping any marine life that comes into contact with them. The crew of both vessels have worked to develop net retrieval devices that uncover the sunken gillnets. Search teams from the ships, drag the net retrieval devices in search patterns to find nets daily. Once a net is located by the search teams, I notify the Mexican Navy so that we can remove the nets and the Navy can seize the illegal fishing gear.

With your continued support, the life-saving work of our crews, and our continued partnership with the Mexican Navy, we can save the vaquita from the brink of extinction.

For the oceans,

Captain Oona Layolle


Sea Shepherd Saves Humpback Whale


Learn More About the Rescue

Marine experts seek answers in death of humpback whale

A whale washed up Sunday evening on the beach in Seaside. — Kyle Spurr/The Daily Astorian


SEASIDE — The dead 24-foot humpback whale that washed ashore on the north end of Seaside’s beach Sunday caused quite a stir.

A couple of dozen onlookers stopped to watch Tuesday as a team of marine experts from Portland State University and Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network volunteers performed a necropsy on the animal, which had been moved slightly inland and north on the beach. Some came to town specifically to see the whale.

The team collected biological samples that will be used to help determine a cause of death. If there are no “smoking guns,” such as bullet holes or something stuck in the mammal’s throat, then it can take days or weeks to determine a cause of death, said Keith Chandler, the general manager of Seaside Aquarium.

It was clear the animal did not die from old age, as it was only about a year old, Chandler said. He said it is not unusual to see a whale wash ashore on the North Coast, but they tend to be gray whales. Humpbacks are rare — Chandler said he has only see a few in his 20 years with the stranding network — but the species was spotted in nearby waters recently.

“There were a few humpbacks hanging out in the mouth of the Columbia River last year,” he said. “They are usually further offshore. It could have died offshore and with the storm, washed in.”

The whale was one of at least five cetaceans to wash up in the area in three days. A harbor porpoise and two striped dolphins were found Saturday. One dolphin was found in Cannon Beach and the other in Ocean Park, Washington. A third striped dolphin washed ashore in Seaside Monday. Chandler said it is “quite unusual to get them all together,” especially the striped dolphins.

The Ocean Park dolphin showed signs of being entangled in a net and had a hole in its tail that appeared to be from a gaff, Chandler said. The dolphin from Seaside had a similar hole in the same area, but it had not undergone a necropsy by Tuesday. Chandler said it could be a single event — getting caught in the net — that caused the unusual occurrence of killing multiple dolphins at once. If a single event is the cause of death, Chandler said, then “we know it’s just an accident,” as opposed to persistent conditions impacting a species, like disease.

City crews planned to bury the whale at the beach by Wednesday morning.

Make the Gillnet Ban Permanent to Save the Vaquita!

VIVA Vaquita Coalition


The critically endangered Vaquita porpoise is the rarest marine mammal species on the planet.

Between 50 and 100 remain, and all of them live in a tiny region in the northern Gulf of California, Mexico. Their only threat is accidental entanglement in fishing nets called gillnets, which are illegally set for the also-endangered Totoaba fish. There is a lucrative black market trade in Asia for the swim bladders of the Totoaba, fueling this highly destructive fishery. The Vaquita is simply an accidental victim in this situation, but nevertheless, it is on the absolute brink of extinction.

2016 is a “make or break” year for the Vaquita.

In 2015 we convinced the Mexican government to ban all gillnet fishing in the Vaquita’s range, which is amazing news!

Now this year, we are going to have to make sure they flawlessly enforce the ban as well as make it permanent with the aid of Vaquita-safe fishing gear.

2016 has to be the Year of the Vaquita, or else it will be too late to save this magnificent animal.

Thank you for signing this petition and speaking on behalf of the voiceless!

Please visit the websites below to learn more about the Vaquita and how you can help!

Anonymous collective hackers bring down Iceland sites in whaling protest


Activist hackers from the Anonymous collective have claimed responsibility for bringing down five government websites in Iceland in a protest against whale-hunting by the North Atlantic nation.

The sites, which included the prime minister’s official website and that of the environment and interior ministries, went offline on Friday and remained down until about midday on Saturday.

In an anti-whaling video posted on social media, activists called for people to hack websites linked to Iceland to protest persistent commercial hunting despite an international moratorium.

On a new Twitter account devoted to the campaign, screenshots showing the sites down were published late on Friday by activists who said they belonged to the loose Anonymous collective. The government made no comment about the outage.

Iceland is a member of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), an inter-governmental body which imposed a ban on all commercial whaling from 1986. The moratorium remains in place, but both Iceland and Norway continue to hunt whales.

Iceland has come under fire for whaling for decades, including in the 1970s and 1980s when activists from Greenpeace and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society tried to disrupt annual hunts using boats or by sabotaging hunting stations.

Isolated in the North Atlantic with only Greenland as its close neighbor, Iceland has relied on fishing and whaling as a key part of its economy. Icelanders argue whales reduce the stocks of the fish they hunt for.

Since its devastating financial meltdown in 2008 and a sharp currency devaluation, however, tourism has boomed and whale tours are increasingly popular.

(Reporting by Ragnhildur Sigurðardóttir in Reykjavik and Sabina Zawadzki in Copenhagen; Editing by Helen Popper)

Read the article on News Republic

Read the original article

Paris talks a fraud: Watered down climate agreement is too little, too late

by Sea Shepherd’s Captain Paul Watson

COP 21 – The Positives and the Negatives

The positive: (1) The attention of the world has been focused on the issue of climate change. (2) The issue has been given great credibility through the recognition and participation of 195 nations. (3) there will most likely be a surge in support for alternative energy technologies. (4) It could have been worst.

The negatives: (1) Having attended these international conferences since 1972 I’ve yet to see any past agreements translated into action. So we shall see. Promises are cheap. (2) the Ocean was virtually ignored. (3) Oxygen depletion was completely ignored as was phytoplankton diminishment. (4) the issue of animal agriculture was not only ignored it, the food concessions at the events contradicted that concern 100%. Serving fish and chips during an ocean forum and hamburgers at forums dealing with greenhouse gas emissions was a disconnect that was painfully obvious. You would think the delegates and the NGO’s could have weathered a meat free two weeks considering that the animal agriculture industry slaughtering 65 billion animals a year produces more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire transportation industry. (5) and no one wanted to hear about cutting off the 75 + billion dollar government subsidies to the industrialized fishing industry.

In the agreement signed in the COP21 climate deal: the words “fossil fuels” do not appear. Neither do the words “oil” or “coal.” I find that quite revealing.

My two solutions to address climate change were two solutions that no one wanted to hear. (1) shut down industrialized fishing and allow the ocean ecosystems to repair themselves. And (2) convert the majority of the 7.5. billion humans on the planet to a plant based diet.

My summation is that this watered down agreement is too little, too late, and what is on paper will most likely not see any realistic application in practice.

Hopefully I will be proven wrong.


Also: James Hansen, father of climate change awareness, calls Paris talks ‘a fraud’

The former Nasa scientist criticizes the talks, intended to reach a new global deal on cutting carbon emissions beyond 2020,

“It’s a fraud really, a fake,” he says, rubbing his head. “It’s just bullshit for them to say: ‘We’ll have a 2C warming target and then try to do a little better every five years.’ It’s just worthless words. There is no action, just promises. As long as fossil fuels appear to be the cheapest fuels out there, they will be continued to be burned.”