Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Around the Sound: What's happening to the Sound's herring?

By Seth Preston, communications manager, Toxics Cleanup Program

Herring are vanishing from Puget Sound's waters.
For several years now, herring stocks in Puget Sound have continued to drop. A recent Seattle Times article says that decrease may be the cause of declining populations of marine birds that depend on herring for sustenance.

Ecology's Toxics Cleanup Program is helping to explore the plunging herring numbers in Port Gamble Bay, which have been falling for over 10 years. We provided funding to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe to conduct two herring studies.

What we're doing

Samples were collected early this year; now the laboratory work is being done.

The studies are among our work to restore and preserve the bay and its resources under the Puget Sound Initiative.

Other restoration and preservation work includes:
  • Removing creosote-treated pilings at Point Julia, Martha John Estuary and other locations.
  • Reviving Olympia oyster populations to support restoration of Washington's only native oyster.
  • Revitalizing riparian vegetation along the shores and eelgrass in the waters to support fish, birds and other organisms.

Cleanup also coming

At the same time, we're continuing to work with Pope Resources to design a cleanup of pollution caused by historical operations at the old Pope & Talbot forest products mill on the bay. The mill operated from 1853 to 1995 before closing.
We expect in-water cleanup work to start in summer 2015.

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