Executive Director’s report.

by Vivian Henderson

I finally found somebody who’s doing something about cleaning up Puget Sound. The Northwest Straits Commission has been clearing Puget Sound of derelict commercial fishing nets and gear since 2002.

Crews made up of 78 divers have cleared more than 10,000 pounds of nets that trap and kill untold numbers of salmon, bottom fish, crab, diving birds, seals and porpoises. Old crab pots littering the sea floor continue to trap sea life decades after they have been abandoned or lost.

Through the Northwest Straits Initiative, the Commission’s goal is to clear 90% of derelict fishing nets from Puget Sound by 2012 – one net at the time; one crab pot at the time. Read about their work at www.nwstraits.org click on “Derelict Gear”.

Financing for their very important work has been catch as catch can, a small grant here, a few dollars there. Funding has been a struggle. Earlier this year the Northwest Straits Foundation, the fund raising and education arm of the Commission, was awarded a $4.6 million grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Over the next 18 months, the grant will provide resources to remove from Puget Sound an estimated 3,000 derelict nets and fund other very important work of the Commission.

That’s what I call cleaning up Puget Sound. The work the Northwest Straits Commission is doing will do a lot more to protect Puget Sound and our precious sea life than denying a property owner the right to enjoy his beach or requiring a 100 foot no-touch buffer.

There has been a lot of “talk” about cleaning up Puget Sound. And a lot of taxpayer money spent “talking” about cleaning up Puget Sound. As I remember, it started with the Puget Sound Water Quality Action Team (PSWQAT). A taxpayer funded boondoggle that lasted for about 15 years.

Then there was “Shared Strategy for Puget Sound”.

Shared Strategy lasted about 6 years; produced a “plan” that was 5,000 pages. I don’t think anybody has ever read it. Where would you get a copy of it? 5,000 pages! If you could read it where would you put it when you finished it? You’d need a library.

I think the Feds adopted the plan –- but, like I said, I don’t think anybody has read it. It might be sitting on a few shelves some place. Who knows how much it has cost taxpayers? It’s a painful figure, I’m sure.

And now we’ve got the Puget Sound Partnership (PSP) which is just more of the same. Lots of talk, more studies, hand wringing -– more folly. If you notice the roster of PSP staff you’ll see many of the same names that worked for the PSWQAT and Shared Strategy.

Cleaning up Puget Sound has turned into a full time job and retirement plan for these folks. What would happen to them if we ever cleaned up Puget Sound? (Get it?). Don’t look for any rosy reports about the health of Puget Sound from PSP.

The State might kick us old people out of our senior centers but they’ll keep funding this daftness.

In the meantime the Northwest Straits Commission is cleaning up Puget Sound. Thank you Northwest Straits Commission.

Call me sometime…


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