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Saturday, July 28, 2018

Turning Heartbreak into Action

This was my follow up to my previous blog post, written on Facebook written July 26th, about how to not let J35's vigil be in vain. I want to document it here so it remains a reference. We must learn something from her about the strength of love and unwillingness to give up. Somehow feels fitting that after 10 years of blogging, this marks my 1000th blog post.

Two and a half days later and J35 is still carrying her dead baby girl, what would have been a much needed boost to this critically endangered population. Two and a half days later, and my heartbreak is turning into outrage, especially after hearing a reporter pitch the important questions to Governor Jay Inslee this afternoon on Q13 Fox News, and hearing his lame responses. (You can watch the whole segment here: It is beginning to look like the task force will result in more of the status quo: keep boats further away, cull seals, and increase hatchery production. I will tell you right now that none of those things will make a serious difference to these whales. If we want to change the story, we have to get involved. Here are my immediate suggestions.

Attend the task force and working group meetings and ask the hard questions there, face to face. Go to every one you can. There clearly has not been enough public involvement in this process. I haven't been myself and I know it's hard to interrupt regular life to go and participate. But we MUST participate. Here is the meeting schedule.

Governor Inslee is very misinformed about the Lower Snake River dams. Much of what he said today is false. Here is the truth: We don't need to wait for the science to tell us whether breaching the dams is the most effective thing we can do to recover endangered salmon and endangered orcas. The science has already been done. The US Army Corps of Engineers did an expensive and exhaustive five year study that was published in 2002, concluding that breaching the dams was the most likely option to meet salmon recovery criteria on the Snake River. The lengthy environmental impact statement process currently underway is a delay tactic. Inslee also claimed that dam breaching is a federal issue, because it would require appropriations from Congress to proceed. Also not true. Bonneville Power Association, who owns the dams, could pay for the breaching and get credit on their federal debt for the dams. Finally, Inslee claimed dam breaching was a long-term issue and short-term actions were needed. There is little else that would have a larger impact faster than dam breaching, and the process could be started within a year. The earthen berms at the dams can be removed to restore a free-flowing river, leaving the concrete structures in place, and it could happen in a matter of months, not years. He needs to be called out on these false facts - give his office a call at 360-902-4111. They received a lot of calls today. Let's keep it going. (You do not have to be in Washington to call! They don't even ask where you are from.)

While you're at it, give Senators Murray and Cantwell a call, too. We have heard behind the scenes that some people at the federal level will publicly support dam breaching if the big three of Washington (Inslee, Murray, and Cantwell) state their support. All three have stated they want to protect the whales they claim are icons of Washington State. Let's make them prove it. Seattle office numbers for Murray: 206-553-5545, Cantwell: 206-220-6400. Tell them about J35. Enough is enough.

Finally, do NOT let them divide us. I have seen so much finger pointing from whale people blaming fishermen and fishermen blaming whale people. It has been boiling over, because people are rightfully pissed off, but let's not forget the ultimate goal, which is not to take away the livelihood of our neighbors. I have read the science and been in the field and I can tell you with certainty that neither whale-watching nor recreational fishing are to blame for the mess we are in. To have a loud enough voice to be heard we must set aside our disagreements on the lesser issues and focus on the big ticket items that will get more fish for everyone, such as dam breaching, fighting fish farms, and major habitat restoration.

If you have more suggestions let's hear them. If I've learned something from J35 in the last few days it's that I will not give up without a fight.


RG said...

The resident Orca population is one of the Puget Sound Partnership vital signs. The Leadership Council meets in Friday Harbor Sept 12 and 13 at The Brickworks as of current schedule. They provide time for public input and it does have an influence. No doubt this topic will be on the agenda and perhaps some gentle nudging could cause it to be a major item.

I recall one of those meetings a few months ago when a gentleman retired from (I think) the Corps. of Engineers gave public input with a well stated case for breaching the Snake River dams and I also recall that input getting quite wide usage beyond the meeting.

Vera said...

I will do all I can to get the message to those who matter!

Unknown said...

Breaching the dams is the most relevant way to get more salmon to the starving, dying resident Orcas. The loss of lives, J35 and her swimming with her dead baby on her nose - 150 miles - the failed pregnancies -- heartbreaking, a downward spiral, these Orcas are "circling the drain" -- Is there a group of people and organizations who/which are dedicated to doing everything that can be done to get those dams taken down -- so that nature can take its course -- and salmon can swim freely, naturally?
Please educate me on what is being done specifically in this area -- and let me know how to be involved -- There must be many people on this island who grieve with you Monica -- and all of us can, perhaps, be mobilized to take action.

Valerie Tibbett

Sarah said...

I called Inslee's office today and the person on the phone was pretty hostile and defensive. I am curious if there are discussions of a commercial and sport Chinook moratorium.

Kate said...

Hello my friend... I actually saw a couple of videos about this and it was indeed sad..i found them on youtube.

Monika said...

My apologies for the delayed response Sarah - that's too bad to hear about Inslee's office, as every time I've called they've been very friendly. A fishing moratorium has been brought up, but my understanding is it would be very difficult to implement as there are so many levels of negotiations for fishing rights that happen years in advance. Also, my opinion is that sport-fishing bans are not the way to go - they take a pretty small number of fish in the grand scheme of things but put a lot of important dollars into salmon recovery efforts.