Orca Network News - February, 2003

News, updates and events about
the Southern Resident orcas,
orcas worldwide, and their habitats
February 1, 2003 through February 28, 2003.

Free Willy? Privatize him instead
February 28, 2003 (Canada National Post) Note: this editorial is not about Keiko, but is about Luna. There are also factual errors. Luna's pod does not venture into the recesses of Nootka Sound where Luna has set up shop, so he has not had an opportunity to rejoin them. Otherwise there are some novel ideas here.
Whale lovers are rightfully horrified at the tragedy playing itself out on Vancouver Island, where Luna, a lone killer whale, has taken to socializing with human beings rather than the rest of his pod. Over the past two years, the orca, which seems to have adopted humanity as his pod, has taken to following boats and hanging out at the docks in Gold River. Not surprisingly, given people's fascination with killer whales, Luna has become an impromptu attraction, drawing people out to pet him, feed him, swim with him and so on. Sadly, many of these visitors are unaware of the harm they can do to Luna by feeding him inappropriate food (like beer and chocolate chip cookies), and they're equally unaware of the potential for tragedy they create when they try to stick things in Luna's blowhole, dangle their children over Luna's jaws or allow them to reach into his mouth.
By creating a property right that would declare Luna to be the property of a group (he might be "given" to the Marine Mammal Monitoring Program, for example), the incentives and institutions could be straightened out with a few strokes of the pen. First, M3 would have the right to directly sue people for the abuse of their property. That right is well-established under existing law. Second, M3 could establish fees for people to come visit Luna, control the flow of visitors by charging different fees for day and weekend hours, and they could set up a fee structure that would pay for the creation of safety protocols, and monitors or guards, to ensure that Luna was not abused. While they were at it, they could create a program to sell Luna souvenirs to raise funds for animal research and for the orca's protection. Since they'd own the rights to use Luna's name and likeness, they'd have a lock on the franchise.

Keiko gets hard-knock lesson about ice
February 27, 2003 (Portland Oregonian) Keiko, the orca star of "Free Willy" fame, knocked his noggin on an ice shelf in Norway last week and has a nasty scrape to show for it.
The beast banged his bean as he explored a fjord that had partly iced over, swimming beneath the frosty shelf, then pushing his head up through it.
Veterinarians determined the wound is not serious enough to treat, said David Phillips, founder of the Free Willy Keiko Foundation, which cares for the former film star.
The whale has been increasingly active in recent weeks, swimming farther than usual. Keepers say he might sense changes in his environment, particularly the herring migration expected to make its way soon to his part of the Norwegian coast, followed shortly thereafter by pods of wild orcas, which traditionally travel through the region about this time each year. But the migration is running later than usual, and no wild orcas have been spotted.

U.S. gets 'F' on salmon restoration in Northwest
February 27, 2003 (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) Efforts in Columbia and Snake lack commitment, group says
The government's efforts to pull salmon back from the brink of extinction in the Columbia and Snake rivers are beset by shortages of money and desire, an environmental group concluded yesterday in its annual review of a 10-year campaign to save the Northwest's most recognizable fish.
The analysis by the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition gave the Bush administration an "F" for its performance last year in meeting requirements set out by the ambitious salmon restoration plan. It marked the second year in a row the government earned a failing grade.
In a separate report, the National Wildlife Federation called the salmon effort in the Columbia and Snake rivers "a parade of half-steps and squandered possibilities."
In particular, the federation criticized the practice of barging salmon around dams that block their path to the ocean and to spawning grounds. Barging is a key component of the restoration plan's attempt to allow fish to travel without removing dams.
The federation, however, said it isn't working.
"The failures border on a tacit decision (by the Bush administration) to ignore the mandates of the biological plan," said Bruce Babbitt, the former Interior secretary in the Clinton administration who "reluctantly" approved the plan in 2000.
The plan was conceived as an alternative to removing four dams on the Snake River that most environmental groups and many scientists said was the best and most certain way to bring the salmon back.
"We are in the third year of a 10-year plan, but in reality we're in the 11th hour," Babbitt said as he presented the group's report.

Salmon, steelhead still rated at risk
February 26, 2003 (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) Scientists believe rise in numbers is temporary
Increasing salmon and steelhead returns in the past three years appear to be mostly because of a temporary cycle of more food in the ocean and do not signal any lasting victories in saving the fish from extinction, federal fisheries scientists say.
None of the 27 populations of salmon and steelhead evaluated appears to warrant coming off the threatened or endangered species list, and three appear to have declined from threatened or candidate species status to endangered, the scientists indicated.
The conclusions were made by a team of biologists for NOAA Fisheries, formerly known as the National Marine Fisheries Service, the federal agency in charge of restoring salmon.
U.S. District Judge Michael Hogan had ruled that NOAA Fisheries erred when it included both wild and hatchery salmon in the same population group, and then granted threatened species protection only to the wild fish. Protection for Oregon coastal coho was restored pending appeal.
Based on the abundance, reproduction success, distribution across a home range and genetic diversity of each population, the review found that eight appeared endangered, or in danger of extinction, and 19 threatened, or likely to become endangered.
The current status is five endangered, 21 threatened and one candidate for protection.

Save Seattle Creeks measure goes on ballot
February 25, 2003 (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) Initiative 80, the Save Seattle Creeks measure, was placed on the Sept. 16 primary ballot Monday by the City Council.
An alternative proposed by Mayor Greg Nickels to enhance aquatic habitat will not go before voters.
Since 1999, the city has spent almost $25 million restoring urban creeks and expects to spend as much as $20 million more in the next two years.
The initiative would require developers of major projects to include creek restoration in their plans and bring buried creeks to the surface. The measure also would require restoration of creeks on public properties and would limit pesticide use near creeks. The initiative is sponsored by Yes for Seattle.

Act now on fish farms, scientists say
February 25, 2003 (Vancouver Sun) UBC conference agrees B.C. slow to move on sea lice
Delegates to an international conference of marine scientists said Monday that action needs to be taken now to deal with the threat of sea lice from fish farms on wild salmon.
"We need to do some work, and we need to do some work now," said forum chairman Scott McKinley, an environmental physiologist at the University of B.C.
"It's a given," said Peter Heuch, a marine biologist with the National Veterinary Institute of Norway. "There's no doubt there's a link. Even (fish) farmers accept that lice from their farms will affect wild stocks."
Because of that, the Norwegian government began monitoring the levels of sea lice in wild stocks in 1991, and in 1997 imposed regulations that require fish farmers to treat their farms with pesticides once a certain level of sea lice is detected.

Orcas taking a bite out of seal population
February 24, 2003 (Bremerton Sun) Transient killer whales could be considered the heroes of threatened salmon.
According to recent estimates, the orcas already have eaten from a third to more than half of the 1,500 harbor seals believed to be living in Hood Canal when the whales arrived seven weeks ago.
That's a noticeable impact on the seal population, which researchers say has been slowing the recovery of threatened summer chum and chinook in Hood Canal.
"They've made a significant predation impact on the harbor seal population in Hood Canal, no matter how you look at it," said Steve Jeffries, a marine mammal biologist with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. "The take-home message is that the transient killer whale population is bad for the seal population but good for the salmon population, because seals eat salmon.
About a dozen transient killer whales, mostly known for their travels in Southeast Alaska, have stunned longtime orca researchers. In 30 years of studies, transients rarely have stayed in one place more than a day or two, and researchers can't recall any group staying in one place more than two weeks.
"This is beyond any precedent," said John Ford of the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Our Troubled Sound: Pipeline will mitigate paper-mill pollution
February 24, 2003 (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) Forty-five feet below the surface, industrial waste blasting out of the old pipeline looks like smoke -- a shimmery gray cloud in the chill Puget Sound.
The rotting wooden structure stretches a thousand yards into the Sound, the end of the line for vast quantities of tainted water from the sprawling Kimberly-Clark Corp. pulp and paper mill.
But change, company officials and state regulators say, is on the way. An unusual alliance between Kimberly-Clark and the city of Everett could produce long-term environmental benefits.
Together, they plan to build a longer, wider pipeline made of heavy-duty plastic, steel and concrete that will release waste deeper -- 350 feet -- to allow for greater dilution.
The $25 million project, which could be finished by mid-2004 or sooner, will save the city and company money. It also will stop the flow of millions of gallons of treated sewage from Everett and Marysville into the ailing Snohomish River.
Under the plan, about 10 million gallons a day of treated sewage from Everett and all of Marysville's estimated 4 million to 6 million gallons will flow to the new 54-inch- wide pipeline, joining Kimberly-Clark's discharge.
The sewage has to go somewhere, said Robert Waddle, operations superintendent for Everett's Public Works Department. "We have to have an outfall, and if you're going to have one, this is a great place to have one."
Valeriano would like to see the mill's wastewater recycled and cleaned -- maintained in a "closed loop" process that eliminates the addition of more pollution to the Sound.
She wondered what happened to the goal set by Congress in the 1972 Clean Water Act to eliminate "the discharge of pollutants into navigable waters" by 1985.

Keiko's thoughts turn to romance
February 21, 2003 (Aftenposten) Keiko the celebrity killer whale has been taking long wandering swims as the weather improves. The specialists minding the orca think the reason could be spring fever, newspaper Tidens Krav reports.
In the past two days Keiko has swum farther on his own that he has in all the time he has spent since last September in his new home in Nordmøre.
On Monday Keiko took a quick trip back to Skålvikfjorden, the spot where he first appeared in Norway. On Tuesday the orca journeyed to Kvalvåg, Frei.
"He has never been as active as during the past days. Who knows, maybe he's got spring fever," said marine biologist Colin Baird.

In The Northwest: Opponents are raising a stink over B.C. fish farms
February 21, 2003 (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) As we traveled up Bedwell Sound on Vancouver Island in a buddy's Zodiac boat, one rule of British Columbia fish farms was quickly learned: You smell the pens before you see them.
Fish farming has been kept out of Alaska: The 49th state fears that farmed fish, primarily Atlantic salmon, would escape from their pens and damage native Pacific fish runs.
The inlets and estuaries of Washington, bordered by high human populations, have not been conducive to the pungent-smelling pens.
By contrast, British Columbia has opened its coastline despite protests from natives and environmentalists. As well, European-based fish farm operators have opened their checkbooks to political candidates of the B.C. Liberal Party headed by Premier Gordon Campbell.
A Nanaimo laboratory, run by Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans, has the job of promoting fish farms while simultaneously being charged with investigating reports that farmed fish have infected wild pink salmon with sea lice.
"It is worth reiterating that wild salmon must come first; they cannot be replaced," Fraser wrote.
The collapse of wild pink salmon populations is particularly acute near the Broughton Archipelago off northern Vancouver Island. It's also the densest concentration of salmon farms in British Columbia.
The British Columbia government remains very much in bed with the salmon farm industry. It recently tapped, as president of the B.C. Aquaculture Research and Development Committee, the head of a company that supplies antibiotics and chemicals to fish farms.
Protests are accelerating.

Orcas get taste of federal money
February 19, 2003 (Bremerton Sun) Killer whale experts are rejoicing about increased government funding to study what could be killing Puget Sound's orcas.
The federal budget approved last week contains $750,000 for orca studies, and Gov. Gary Locke proposes to add another $100,000 in the state budget.
"I think it is pretty exciting and long overdue," said David Bain, a killer whale researcher based at the University of Washington.
The last federally funded field studies involving Puget Sound orcas occurred in the 1970s, when Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale Research began counting the whales each year.
Since then, Balcomb has scraped to find private funds to maintain the annual census -- which is what tipped off experts that the whale population was nose-diving, from 99 to 78 animals in just five years.
The money could be used to complete analyses of orca tissue samples collected several years ago during a variety of studies. The tissue samples were collected through a process of darting.
"There's a lot of data around that needs to be analyzed," Bain said. "(The government) could give little amounts here and there to get that work done."
$750,000 OK'd to study orca fatalities February 20, 2003 (Seattle Times)

Report: Farm fish eat their wild cousins
February 18, 2003 (CNN) OSLO, Norway (Reuters) -- Fish farms are a mounting threat to depleted world stocks because more and more wild fish are being fed to their caged cousins, the WWF conservation group said on Tuesday.
"Four kilos (8.8 lb) of wild-caught fish are needed to produce one kilo of farmed fish," the Swiss-based WWF said in a report urging reform of fish farming ranging from species like salmon, trout, tuna and sea bream to crustaceans like prawns.
World farmed production roughly doubled in the past decade to 20 million ton a year, increasing demand for oil and fishmeal, made from species such as blue whiting and pilchards, to feed the farmed fish, it said.
Without reform, it said the fast-growing industry could be consuming all the world's fish oil and half of its fishmeal by 2010, up from 70 percent of fish oil and 34 percent of fishmeal now.
He said a decline of stocks used in fish feed could have "devastating effects throughout the marine feed chain from wild stocks of cod, haddock, and other commercial species right on up to dolphins, orcas and marine birds."

Earth's temperatures heating up
February 18, 2003 (San Francisco Chronicle) Averages to rise 8 degrees by end of century, climate scientist says
Warren Washington, chief of the Climate Change Research Group at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., offered his long- range forecast here at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, where climatologists and physicists are discussing the various computer models they have created to explain past climate changes and the forecast for the near-term future.
"It's clear," Washington said, "that we're in the midst of a rapidly changing climate that has accelerated in the past 25 years." It makes the last ice age -- an event that ended more than 10,000 years ago -- a "mere minor perturbation," he said.
The senior scientist did not take sides on the current conflict between the United States and the rest of the industrialized world over mandatory control of so-called greenhouse gases called for by the 1997 Kyoto Protocol which the Bush administration strongly opposes.
But he did contend it is obvious by now that corporate leaders of U.S. industries and power plants need to be making serious efforts to curtail their emissions of the heat-trapping gases -- principally carbon dioxide -- that are affecting climate.

State provides more funding to support orca-recovery efforts
February 15, 2003 (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) Efforts to explain the decline of the local orca population got a boost Friday with the announcement that the 2003 federal budget includes $750,000 for killer whale research.
The money will go to the National Marine Fisheries Service, which is expected to create a recovery plan for the orca population.
Earlier this week, Gov. Gary Locke said the state would spend $100,000 to support orca-recovery efforts. Since 1996, the population of resident orcas has declined from 97 to 79. Recent births have raised the total to 82.

Cantwell Secures New Federal Funding for Orca Recovery Research
February 14, 2003 (Senator Cantwell News Release) Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) today announced new federal funding for research to help understand the decline in the Southern Resident orca population in Puget Sound and nearby waters.
"We know that orca population in the Northwest is in trouble," Cantwell said. "These research funds will help us understand the reasons why orca population has declined by twenty percent in the last six years."
The final version of the recently approved budget included $750,000 in additional funding for orca research to be conducted by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), an agency within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). These funds, which were included in NOAA's FY 2003 final budget, may be used for research into orca genetics and other areas to help understand the orca population decline.
Senator Cantwell requested the funding in early February following NMFS's January 30, 2003 proposal to list the orca population as depleted under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. A depleted designation under MMPA would expand federal protection for orcas under current law. The new research funds announced today can be used to help develop a conservation plan under a final MMPA depleted designation.
The additional $750,000 in federal funds will complement state funds announced by Governor Gary Locke earlier this week for orca recovery.

Locke outlines recovery plan
February 13, 2003 (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) Gov. Gary Locke yesterday pledged to redouble state efforts to pull Puget Sound out of its environmental tailspin, tapping a consensus-oriented environmentalist to spearhead the campaign.
Locke opened an emergency fund to spend more on research and advocacy for the Sound's declining orca populations as federal officials decide this year how to protect the killer whales. He also asked the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to put together programs to save the orcas and the Sound's imperiled groundfish.
And the governor repeated his call for the Legislature to fork out $1.4 million to station a tugboat year-round at Neah Bay to head off oil spills, and to spend $400,000 investigating why certain marine bird populations have plummeted over the past quarter-century.
But, faced with the state's largest budget shortfall in decades, Locke stopped short of tackling some of the most nettlesome issues facing the Sound. The most glaring is polluted storm water, a product of the Sound's rapid urbanization, which a new study suggests is killing spawning salmon in urban creeks.
Fish and Wildlife Director Jeff Koenings said recovery plans for groundfish, orcas and salmon will outline specific, detailed steps to be taken to ensure they rebound. He said Native American tribes will help state officials decide which steps to take.
"We are getting there," Koenings said. "The important thing . . . is that we have galvanized a lot of public support to protect Puget Sound."

People who disturb orca risk charges
February 12, 2003 (Victoria Times-Colonist) The first charge of disturbing Luna, the young orca, is in the works as police try to stop people from touching and feeding the lonely whale living off Vancouver Island's west coast.
Get Luna too used to people and it hurts the three-year-old's chances of ever being able to reunite with his pod.
RCMP and a special whale monitoring and education team have spent months trying to educate people that the worst thing that can happen is to let this whale become attached to humans and boats because he may favour them over his own kind.
And the first teleconference for a new Canadian-U.S. scientific panel is expected to happen this week as members wrestle with what's best for Luna and the rest of the endangered southern resident population.
He's heard of people swimming with the whale and trying to feed him. "The whale shows a remarkable kind of dignity in the face of poorly behaved humans."

Tacoma working to reduce stormwater pollution
February 10, 2003 (Tacoma News-Tribune) "The city is working very hard to adapt a strategy and a plan that will prevent contamination," said Leslie Ann Rose, the group's senior policy analyst. "The issue of most concern to potentially recontaminate the Foss Waterway is storm water. It is the largest potential threat."
Every year, storm drains spill enough water into the Foss to fill 2,415 Olympic-sized pools. The flow includes water from creeks that once ran freely through the neighborhoods.
Every time it rains, dirty water pours off streets, alleys, parking lots, lawns and school yards and into the pipes. In all, 5,751 acres of commercial, residential and industrial properties drain into the Foss Waterway.
Wastes in the water include everything from engine oil and road tar to animal excrement and lawn fertilizer.
"It's incredibly variable and intermittent," said Melodie Selby, a state Department of Ecology water quality manager
The city's engineers began to analyze the problem in 1986. The quality of Foss stormwater has improved since then, in part because the city fixed some of its plumbing.
"Stormwater is kind of like laundry. It's never done. You are always finding more stuff to do and that means you're paying attention to what's in front of you," she said.

Fish power: Skagit River Salmon are back in huge numbers
February 9, 2003 (Seattle Times) The latest estimate is that as many as 350,000 wild chum salmon made their way back to their spawning grounds throughout the Skagit watershed this fall - the biggest return in many decades, maybe since 1917. This follows an equally healthy run of 14,000 fall chinook, the largest since 1974, the first year accurate records were kept. And there are more to come. Later this winter, biologists expect a good run of coho, then a winter run of steelhead. Next year they're hoping for another big influx of pink salmon.
Salmon are an important indicator of the health of the Puget Sound environment. Their amazing comeback on the Skagit is no accident. Among other factors, nearly two decades of research and investment have led to important changes in the way Seattle City Light operates the dams just upstream from these spawning grounds.
City Light's fish biologists developed and continued to adjust new minimum flows to prevent river levels from dropping below a certain point. The idea was to control the river's flow more like natural river flows. Daytime flow reductions have been avoided, and when flows are reduced, it's done gradually, giving fish time to move to deeper water.
The cumulative results are dramatic. In the upper river, the spawning grounds closest to Seattle's dams, pink salmon increased from 363 fish per mile to an average of 1,513 per mile since 1985 - a fourfold increase. The increase averages 11 percent per year, far greater than other Puget Sound rivers.
Chinook runs have remained relatively stable, with native chinook spawners in the upper river slowly building in numbers from 1985 to the present, compared with an alarming decline for other Puget Sound rivers.
Plenty of work remains to fully restore salmon runs in the Skagit River. Floating along the river, we see examples of lost habitat. Tributary streams that once served as prime spawning grounds have been clogged with silt from logging and development. Side channels and sloughs that serve as refuge areas for fish during floods have been cut off. Dikes and hardened riverbanks have eliminated crucial wetlands that served as nurseries for juvenile salmon.

A call to clean up polluted runoff
February 7, 2003 (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) The revelation that pollution flowing off streets and parking lots appears to be killing salmon in Seattle-area creeks -- despite expensive restoration efforts -- prompted government officials and environmentalists yesterday to call for redoubled pollution-control efforts.
They admitted that cleansing the water that runs off after every Pacific Northwest rain -- carrying with it oil, grease, pesticides and other pollutants -- is a daunting task. A key city official, though, promised to revamp Seattle's efforts to pinpoint poisons running through local waterways.
"This is not just an urban problem," said Kathy Fletcher, director of People for Puget Sound, an environmental group. "It's also a suburban problem . . . and it's rapidly becoming a rural problem, too. We have to deal with it now.
"We can't just relax and say we're OK in the rural areas, because coming soon to your location is the kind of development that leads to this."
Unusual die-offs of coho in creeks from Everett to Des Moines have been reported since 1999. The fish perish without spawning after displaying bizarre symptoms, such as loss of swimming control.

Upstream battle
February 6, 2003 (Christian Science Monitor) Wild salmon underpins British Columbia's coastal culture and economy. The rapid growth of salmon farms threatens to alter the region's identity.
The global fish-farming industry continues to grow, providing one-third of the fish people consume. But as production rises, so do questions about environmental impact and the conditions under which fish are raised. British Columbia, with its tradition of commercial fishing, tribal fishing rights, and environmental activism, sits at the center of the controversy.
"In Canada, under laws that have been hard fought and established through the Supreme Court, industry and government must both consult and accommodate First Nations in economic development projects. That simply hasn't happened here," says Mike Jacobs of the Heiltsuk Fisheries Program.
Biologists and critics of salmon farms believe diseases and parasites such as sea lice can spread easily between wild and caged fish.

Hundreds Assemble for Sake of Salmon
February 6, 2003 (The Olympian) Group led by Bill Ruckelshaus crafting a recovery plan
Shared Strategy for Puget Sound, a group formed in February 2002, is the first nonprofit group to contract with the state and federal government to draft an endangered species recovery plan.
The target species are Puget Sound chinook, Hood Canal summer chum and bull trout, all listed under the federal Endangered Species Act.
Rather than having federal bureaucrats write the salmon recovery plan, it needs to be built from the ground up, by local communities in the areas affected by the plan, Ruckelshaus said.
"The federal agencies need to back off and let these watersheds work," he said.

Our Troubled Sound: Spawning coho are dying early in restored creeks
February 6, 2003 (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) City officials have forked out millions of dollars and volunteers have donated countless hours to lovingly restore Seattle-area creeks. But a groundbreaking study suggests that water in many urban streams runs dirty enough to quickly kill coho salmon -- most before they can spawn.
The culprit appears to be the stormwater gurgling off streets, parking lots and roofs, carrying with it oil, grease, pesticides and other pollutants, say federal scientists who conducted the study.
Every day, in the region's residents contribute unwittingly to stormwater pollution: dousing yards with chemicals to kill bugs; driving vehicles that leak antifreeze and oil; coating roofs with herbicide to beat back creeping tendrils of moss.
When it rains, these pollutants wash off streets and yards into storm drains, many of which flow directly into creeks.
Coho appear to be particularly vulnerable. They are usually the first salmon species to head upstream after the first fall rains.
Congregating at the mouths of creeks, coho wait for the first surge of water. That signals to them that rains have started and they will have access to the small, shallow streams in which they spawn.

Orcas called 'depleted'
February 5, 2003 (Whidbey News-Times) "I'm encouraged," said Susan Berta of the Whidbey-based Orca Network, "that basically the depleted status is resulting in the same kind of process that would have happened under the (Endangered Species Act.)"
The Orca Network hosted a meeting Wednesday night on Whidbey Island at which people from the Fisheries Service spoke about what the designation means, ongoing scientific research and the status of the whale population.
The message from Brent Norberg, marine mammal coordinator for the Northwest Region of the Fisheries Service, was that the actual effect of the "depleted designation" depends on community input, scientific findings and federal funding.
"If you saw the State of the Union (address) last night, " Norberg said, "you know that we're competing with other priorities to get funding right now."
Berta was part of a coalition that filed a petition with the federal government in 2001 to list the orcas under the Endangered Species Act. In a controversial ruling, the Fisheries Service found that the whale population does not qualify for protection under the Endangered Species Act, though the agency conceded that the orcas do face extinction in the next century.

Fish Farm Flap
February 4, 2003 (CBC Disclosure) Two sides are circling for a fight: an industry that wants to farm fish, and the people who want to save wild salmon. And then there's the B.C. government...
On the surface the industry looks benign. But invisible underneath, there can be epidemics of fish disease and open sewers of fish feces. Farm fish are perfect hosts for parasites. For sea lice, a farm is a big crowded party, an all-you-can-eat buffet. The louse is not invited, but it latches on, breeds and multiplies.
In the summer of 2001, biologist Alexandra Morton was blaming salmon farms for a sea lice epidemic that she predicted would decimate the pink salmon run. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans conducted a study that concluded otherwise. Disclosure has obtained government documents that reveal DFO knew that its study of the problem was seriously flawed.

Few oil tankers equipped with double hulls
February 3, 2003 (Vancouver Sun) Only six of 25 oil tankers that carry millions of gallons of Alaska crude oil down the coast of British Columbia to refineries south of the border are double-hulled. But all are U.S.-flagged and carry U.S. crews, according to an oil transportation watchdog group based in Alaska.
The group has been lobbying for tougher regulations since the single-hulled tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound on March 24, 1989, spilling 11 million gallons of oil and fouling 1,600 kilometres of shoreline.
Following that disaster, the U.S. Oil Pollution Act of 1990 laid out strict rules for tankers operating in U.S. waters, calling for single-hulled tankers to be phased out by 2015. The deadline is only three years away for tankers operating in U.S. domestic coastal trades.
Most North Slope Alaska oil is shipped to refineries in Puget Sound, with a lesser amount going to Long Beach, California. Since 1977, when Alaska oil started moving south, there has not been a major spill in Washington State or B.C. waters.


Back to Orca News Archives