Factors That Affected Puget Sound

by John Stiener, Bainbridge Island

The marine life in Puget Sound has been decimated by four factors: Harvesting, Hatcheries, Hydro (Dams) and Habitat (Primarily streams). This is referred to as the All-H Analyzer (AHA). There is very little if any definitive science that “Near Shore Habitat” has had much if any effect on marine life in Puget Sound.

Unless you are talking about the people that wiped out the Salmon, Perch, Sea Urchins, Sea Cucumbers, Rock Fish, Greenlings and True Cod that they were harvesting near the beach. The Washington State Dept of Fish and Wildlife issued all the licenses and permits to TAKE all of this marine life.

If you lived around the county 30 years ago, you could have witnessed this first hand when one hundred boats were fishing for True Cod in Agate Passage while the fish were heading to reproductive grounds. Fishermen bragged about how many more fish they caught than the legal limit!

Sea Urchin harvest boats “clear cut” the vast Urchin beds from the San Juan’s to south Puget Sound. There is evidence that there is a relationship between the giant bull kelp and sea urchins. Most all of the giant bull kelp beds are gone that were wide spread throughout Puget Sound.

Sea Cucumber harvest boats scoured the bottom of the sound harvesting the millions of sea cucumbers that are vital to the health of the sound as bottom feeders.

When concern was brought up for the healthiness of this for Puget Sound, the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife was quoted as saying that there were plenty of them, don’t worry about it. And the harvest boats are out again to take every last one.

Perch fishing boats took everything in their path, right off the beaches at night, taking every other fish species with them that got caught in their nets. This is called incidental catch.

If you watched the excellent presentation by PBS of the history of fish hatcheries and their destruction of salmon species in Puget Sound, you would have seen how dilution of the salmon gene pool was one of the most destructive aspects effecting declining salmon populations.

Anyone actually having a desire to study one of many excellent publications regarding this subject can read an interesting report published by NOAA. Start at about page 25 to get into the meat of the subject matter. This publication sheds a very favorable light on salmon farming while indicting the fish hatchery program in Washington State.

Unfortunately, for those that are stubbornly attached to the significance of near shore habitat as it relates to beaches along Puget Sound, it is rarely ever even mentioned in thousands of pages of research by NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service:

For those opposed to docks you might want to read this paper from NOAA. It points out the benefits of docks as used for marine animal enhancement and recreational use:

For an in depth study of the entire marine eco system of Puget Sound read this.

To improve the health of Puget Sound marine life, we need an approach that actually addresses the issues. The focus on near shore habit is an extremely misleading, inaccurate, limited, simplistic approach to a comprehensive issue that has nearly nothing to do with near shore habitat.

There is an old saying that the fur sealers use to chant……

“Get every last one so the lord don’t get to keep none.”

If you really want to do something to restore the health and marine life in Puget Sound, you have to address the actual problems.

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