Are Fido’s Meds Polluting The Water?

Americans will spend nearly $60 billion on their pets this year and a lot of that money goes for vet care. Some of those pet meds are contaminating our waters. | credit: Flickr/Claire
Americans will spend nearly $60 billion on their pets this year and a lot of that money goes for vet care. Some of those pet meds are contaminating our waters. | credit: Flickr/Claire


Olivia Poblacion, OPB


Animal lovers are spending more on their pets than ever, and a lot of that money is going into vet care.

But medications the vet prescribes for Fido’s health may be contaminating our watersheds.

Just like pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) for humans, soaps and medicines for pets contain compounds that can harm aquatic ecosystems.

“There is a cocktail of chemicals being detected in our watersheds,” said Sam Chan, a watershed health specialist with the Oregon Sea Grant.

Even though the concentrations are low, PPCPs in watersheds have still been shown to impact the development and behavior of fish and can make them more susceptible to predation.

The National Sea Grant program recently partnered with the American Veterinary Medicine Association to promote the reduction of improper PPCP disposal. As part of this project, Chan and other researchers at OSU are launching a national survey to learn more about the practices and awareness of this issue among pet owners and veterinary professionals.

“The main way people dispose of these products is by throwing them in the garbage,” Chan said. “It seems like a reasonable solution, but when they go to the landfill, rain seeps through and then the water is contaminated with those compounds.”

So what’s the best way to get rid of unused PPCP’s for pets? Definitely don’t flush them. Chan recommends either taking them to a drug take-back event or mixing them with something unpalatable to pets (such as coffee grounds) and then putting them in a sealed container and depositing in the trash.

Shellfish Tell Puget Sound’s Polluted Tale

By Ashley Ahearn, KUOW


A mussel is opened for analysis at the WDFW lab. Volunteers and WDFW used mussels to test for contaminants at more than 100 sites up and down Puget Sound. | credit: WDFW
A mussel is opened for analysis at the WDFW lab. Volunteers and WDFW used mussels to test for contaminants at more than 100 sites up and down Puget Sound. | credit: WDFW


SEATTLE — Scientists used shellfish to conduct the broadest study to date of pollution levels along the shore of Puget Sound.

And in some places, it’s pretty contaminated.

This past winter the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife put mussels at more than 100 sites up and down Puget Sound.

After a few months, volunteers and WDFW employees gathered the shellfish and analyzed them for metals, fossil fuel pollution, flame-retardants and other chemicals. The WDFW just released the results.

“The biggest concentrations of those contaminants were found in the highly urbanized bays – Elliott Bay, Salmon Bay, in the Sinclair Inlet, Commencement Bay we found much higher contaminations than we did in the rest of Puget Sound,” said Jennifer Lanksbury, a biologist who led the study for the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

PAHs – or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons – were found in mussels at every single test site. PAHs come from fossil fuels – spilled oil, wood stove smoke and engine exhaust, mainly. The particles can be deposited through the air or get washed into Puget Sound when it rains. Some PAHs are carcinogenic.

Map of PAHs in Puget Sound Shellfish
Map of PAH levels in Puget Sound. Credit: WDFW


The mussel samples all contained PCBs as well. Flame retardants and DDT were found at more than 90 percent of the sites – with the highest levels in more urban bays.

“This is showing that these contaminants are entering the nearshore food web and they’re likely being passed up to other higher organisms and people eat mussels too,” Lanksbury added.

The state Department of Health does rigorous testing for toxic algae and bacteria in shellfish – the kind of stuff that makes you sick immediately. But it doesn’t regularly test shellfish for metals and other contaminants that can harm human health over longer periods of exposure.

“PAH is a difficult issue,” said Dave McBride with the Department of Health. “They are widespread in the environment. We probably get a lot greater exposure to PAHs from the food we eat on the grill, hamburgers or smoked salmon. It’s all relative. Some of the PAHs are considered carcinogens so it’s definitely on our radar.”

Shellfish harvest, in general, is limited in dense urban areas – where the DFW’s mussel study showed the highest levels of contaminants. However, this past winter China banned all imports of shellfish from much of the west coast after finding elevated levels of arsenic in some shellfish harvested near Tacoma.


Mussel Watch Volunteers
Volunteers Jonathan Frodge, Chris Wilke and Paul
Fredrickson gather mussel samples at Discovery
Park in Seattle. Credit: Tom Foley


Lanksbury says that she still feels safe eating mussels and other shellfish from Puget Sound. And, she adds, there are things people can do to lower pollution levels.

“When they say, don’t let your car drip oil, support low-impact development where they’re having rain gardens, don’t wash your car on the side of the road – all of those kinds of things spare Puget Sound from contaminants that we produce on a daily basis by burning fossil fuels,” Lanksbury said.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife hopes to keep the mussel monitoring program going, with the continued help of more than 100 volunteers and citizen scientists from around Puget Sound.

Keystone XL will cause more pollution than originally estimated

By: Sara Palmer, Climate Connections




The U.S. state department claimed that the Keystone XL pipeline would increase world carbon emissions by 30 million tons. However, a recent study released by scientists from the Stockholm Environment Institute shows that number could be off – way off. Seth Borenstein writes in an article published by the Portland Press Herald:

The researchers estimate that the proposed pipeline, which would carry oil from tar sands in western Canada to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast, would increase world greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 121 million tons of carbon dioxide a year.,

The U.S. estimates didn’t take into account that the added oil from the pipeline would drop prices by about $3 a barrel, spurring consumption that would create more pollution, the researchers said.

Other scientists and organizations seem to be shrugging of this quadrupled number. The American Petroleum Institute (go figure) claimed that the study was pointless, because the pipeline itself would have nothing to do with the increase. Tar sands oil will reduce the price of oil per barrel, they claim, therefore increasing oil usage regardless of how it is transported. In his article, “Study: Keystone carbon pollution more than figured,” Borenstein interviews other scientists and academics all to happy to chime in their opinions:

  • Lower prices may be appealing at first, but there needs to be a balance between consumer happiness and environmental happiness, said Wesleyan University environmental economist Gary Yohe, who applauds the study’s findings.
  • A glass-half-empty perspective came from University of Sussex economist Richard Tol, who believes that 121 million is a “drop in the bucket” when compared to the 36 billion tons of carbon emissions released on 2013.
  • Ken Caldeira, Carnegie Institution of Washington, rode the fence, agreeing that 121 million tons is relatively small, but believes that we should be moving away from activities that boost carbon dioxide no matter the amount.
  • And, finally, independent energy economist Judith Dwarkin in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, blew off the study entirely, claiming that consumption of oil drives the price, not the other way around.

Whether millions or billions of carbon emissions, the Keystone XL pipeline will also damage a multitude of other environments. We need to see more studies that illustrate the whole impact of the pipeline and look at them as all interconnected, instead of relevant or irrelevant.

BC Mine Dam Break Threatens Northwest Fisheries

Silty water from the breached Mount Polley Mine dam floods a downstream creek and road Monday. | credit: Photo courtesy Cariboo Regional District Emergency Operations Centre
Silty water from the breached Mount Polley Mine dam floods a downstream creek and road Monday. | credit: Photo courtesy Cariboo Regional District Emergency Operations Centre


By: Ed Schoenfeld, Alaska Public Radio; Source: OPB


A dam break at a central British Columbia mine could threaten salmon fisheries in the Pacific Northwest.

Mount Polley is an open-pit copper and gold mine roughly 400 miles north of Seattle. A dam holding back water and silt leftover from the mining process broke Monday. It released enough material to fill more than 2,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Government regulators have not yet determined its content. But documents show it could contain sulfur, arsenic and mercury.

Imperial Metals, the mine’s owner, issued a statement that only said the material was not acidic. Emergency officials told residents not to drink or bathe in water from affected rivers and lakes.

The spill area is in the watershed of the Fraser River, which empties into the Pacific Ocean at Vancouver, B.C. The river supports a large sport and commercial fishery in Washington state.

Brian Lynch of the Petersburg, Alaska, Vessel Owners Association says some of those fish also swim north.

“The United States has a harvest-sharing arrangement for Fraser sockeye and pink salmon through provisions of the Pacific Salmon Treaty. So any problem associated with salmon production on the Fraser will affect U.S. fishermen,” he says.

Imperial Metals did not respond to requests for comment. Its website says the mine is closed and damage is being assessed.

Provincial officials have ordered the corporation to stop water from flowing through the dam break. Imperial could face up to $1 million in fines.

Environmental groups in Canada and Alaska say Mount Polley’s dam is similar to those planned for a half-dozen mines in northwest British Columbia.

They say a dam break there would pollute salmon-producing rivers that flow through Alaska.

That could also affect U.S.-Canada Salmon Treaty allocations, including for waters off Washington state.

Wash. To Host First Public Meeting On Inslee’s Fish Consumption Rate Proposal


By Bellamy Pailthorp, KPLU


Washington is slowly moving ahead with a long-delayed plan to update its water quality rules. Tuesday’s will be the first public meeting on Gov. Jay Inslee’s proposal to dramatically increase the fish consumption rate, which determines how clean discharged water must be. But some say the proposal doesn’t go far enough.

The governor’s plan would increase the fish consumption rate to about a meal a day, rather than a meal a month. It would increase the current rate of 6.5 grams per day to 127 grams per day. That’s the same rate recently adopted by Oregon, which has the strictest rate in the country.

“Well, yes, but it’s important to remember that that’s just one part of this equation,” said Chris Wilke with Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, one of four groups that sued the federal government last year to force it to make the state comply with the Clean Water Act.

Wilke says the plaintiffs are glad to see a more realistic fish consumption rate. But at the same time, he points out that Inslee’s proposal also lowers the bar on the allowable risk for cancer by a factor of 10, from one in a million to one in 100,000.

“It appears the state has kind of engineered the standards to come out where they want them to be or where might be acceptable to business interests,” Wilke said.

The state Department of Ecology says the Governor felt the compromise is necessary, because businesses have warned tightening the standard too much would prompt them to move jobs elsewhere.

And instead of just cleaning up the aftermath, Inslee is pushing for additional policies to discourage use of the chemicals in the first place, to “shift people away from using these kinds of things that are so problematic for the permit holders,” said Carol Kraege, who leads the state Department of Ecology’s toxics reduction efforts.

But the plaintiffs who brought suit for cleaner water say such policies might not make it through the Legislature. And they say a similar compromise was recently put forward in Idaho and rejected by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Can we have our sustainable seafood and eat it too?

By Amelia Urry, Grist

You know the feeling: You’re standing in front of the seafood counter, running down the list of evils you might be supporting when you buy one of those gleaming filets. There’s overfishing, but also pollution from fish farming, not to mention bycatch, marine habitat destruction, illegal fishing … and that’s before getting to the problem of seafood fraud, and the fact that 1 in 3 seafood samples in a massive study by Oceana was served under pseudonym.

Programs like Monterey Bay’s Seafood Watch and the Safina Center’s Seafood Guide are helpful when it comes to sorting seafood’s angels from its demons, but only if you can be sure the red snapper you’re looking at is actually red snapper (hint: It probably isn’t).

Meanwhile, third-party certification outfits — the ones that slap their seal of approval on seafood that’s harvested responsibly — are not without their flaws. In fact, the current demand for certified “sustainable” seafood is so high that it’s driving, you guessed it, overfishing. Someone get Poseidon in here because that, my friends, is what the Greeks called a “tragic flaw.”

Still, these third-party groups may offer the best hope for ocean-loving fish eaters like myself, so it’s worth paying attention to how they operate. And while these certification programs are very much a work in progress, they’re getting better.


The largest of the third-party labeling groups is the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). Born of a partnership between the World Wildlife Fund and Unilever, the MSC was designed to bring market-based solutions to the kinds of environmental problems capitalism usually takes the blame for. It motivates fishermen, grocery chains, and restaurants to care about sustainability — because they can charge more for their product if it has MSC’s approval stamped on it.

MSC’s certification standards are based on the health of the fish population in question, the wider environmental impacts of fishing for it (such as habitat destruction and bycatch), and the quality of the fishery’s management. If fishermen want their fishery to be certified, they must pay hefty fees to independent assessors, who gather testimony from scientists and stakeholders, then submit a draft report which is peer-reviewed by other scientists, followed by public comments, more revisions (I assume you’ve tuned out by now), and so on — all adding up to an intimidating tangle of checks and balances. (If you like to geek out on this stuff, you can read all the reports of all the committees at every step of the process yourself.)

Once a fishery is certified, it receives yearly audits for five years, at which point the certification lapses and the whole process starts over again. Somehow, hoops and all, the MSC has managed to certify over 220 fisheries since 1996. According to MSC, its certified fisheries, along with about a hundred currently under review, make up over 10 percent of the global seafood catch, worth around $3 billion. Meanwhile, many companies are getting generous returns on their investment in sustainability: The wholesale value of MSC-labeled products rose 21 percent in 2013 alone.

But as MSC has grown, it has broken bread with larger and larger partners, whose appetites may outstrip the ability of certified fisheries to sate them. Critics claim MSC has slackened some if its rules to keep up with the demand from retail chains such as Walmart. Al Jazeera reported on the company’s struggle to keep buying Alaskan salmon after the fishery’s MSC approval lapsed:

Jennifer Jacquet, an environmental studies professor at New York University … said Walmart’s allegiance to MSC put a lot of pressure on the nonprofit to certify more fish.

“You have two options,” Jacquet said of MSC’s situation. “You can make seafood sustainable or you can redefine the word ‘sustainable’ to match existing resources.”

Likewise, when McDonald’s pledged to sell only MSC-labeled Alaskan pollock in the U.S., it strained the ability of the fishery — with only a mediocre sustainability score from Seafood Watch — to keep all 14,000 restaurants in Filet-o-Fish sandwiches.

Furthermore, NPR’s excellent in-depth series on MSC’s sustainability (or not) focused on a few fisheries the group had certified despite less-than-cheery evidence on the ground, er, sea. These included a swordfishery in Canada, where sharks are snagged more often than actual swordfish, over- and illegally fished Chilean sea bass, and volatile sockeye salmon populations in Alaska:

“Originally I thought [MSC] was a good idea,” says Jim Barnes, director of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition, a network of dozens of environmental groups around the world. … [But] the controversy over Canadian swordfish illustrates why the booming demand for sustainable seafood actually threatens to hurt the movement more than help it. “The bottom line is that there are not enough truly sustainable fisheries on the earth to sustain the demand.”

One result of that skyrocketing demand is that new, less stringent certification programs are popping up. After allowing its MSC’s certification to lapse, a powerful salmon fishery in Alaska persuaded Walmart to make room for a new certification, Responsible Fisheries Management, which puts less emphasis on sustainability and comes with no logo-licensing fees. Walmart still carries some MSC certified goods, but the company reneged on its all-MSC-all-the-time pledge.

You can imagine how this could quickly become a race to the bottom: If Alaskan pollock stocks continue to decline, the fishery may no longer meet MSC’s standards of sustainability. And if that happens? MSC could drop the pollock fishery and risk losing the McDonald’s account, too. Or it could lower the bar, in hopes of improving fishery practices down the road.

MSC has insisted that it never loosened its standards, and that those standards and the oversight that comes with them are high enough to guarantee sustainability — although it does offer a provisional certification for fisheries that are working toward sustainability, but aren’t quite there yet.

When I talked to MSC’s CEO, Rupert Howes, a few months ago, he told me that MSC has taken the global seafood scene a long way: “When MSC started, it really was innovative. There wasn’t really a sustainable seafood movement,” he said. “When you get leadership within the industry and within the market saying, we want sustainable seafood, we care where it comes from, we want to be part of the solution — it really is a huge, powerful force.

“I hasten to say: MSC is part of the solution,” Howes added. “Overfishing is a huge challenge — you need public policy reform, you need the work of advocacy groups to raise awareness of the issues, and then you need a program like the MSC that’s actually going to empower consumers, you and I, to use our purchasing decisions to make the best environmental choice.”

And like a good overseer, MSC is turning its eye on itself this year, in a thoroughly documented (naturally) self-review of its “chain of custody” program, which assures that MSC’s fish can be traced through the supply chain, from the water all the way to the seafood counter at the grocery store.


It’s worth pointing out that none of this controversy is unique to seafood. Other food labels, from USDA’s widely appliedorganic” to “fair-trade” to the virtually useless “all-natural” have at some point come under fire for being less idealistic in practice than they are in theory. The same is true of green building standards. Things get messy as any system gets bigger.

Of course, with billions of people eating from the sea, any movement toward oversight and accountability is almost certainly better than nothing. At the very least, by making sustainability visible, and desirable, to consumers, MSC has raised the stakes for the supply chains that serve them.

But what to do if the MSC’s logo isn’t enough for you? Here are a few tips for getting sustainable seafood, certifications be damned: 1) Eat as local as possible and many other concerns become moot; 2) eat low on the food chain, as in, more oysters and, seriously, no more Bluefin tuna; and 3) stick to restaurants or markets whose mission you trust instead of trying to decode the signage at your city’s everything emporium.

Did I miss anything? Uh, yeah, definitely. This whole labeling thing is a sticky issue, but it only works if producers know what the people want. So, by all means, weigh in.

Canadians are eating tar-sands pollution

Caelie Frampton
Caelie Frampton


By John Upton, Grist

Tar-sands extraction isn’t just turning swaths of Canadian land into postapocalyptic film sets. New research shows it’s also contaminating the wild animals that members of the Mikisew Cree and Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations have traditionally relied on for food.

We already knew that the tar-sands operations have been dousing northern Alberta with mercury and other forms of pollution. Now university scientists have collaborated with the First Nations to test the pollution levels in hunted animals found downstream from the tar-sands sites. Here are some lowlights from their findings, which were included in a report published on Monday:


Arsenic levels were high enough in in muskrat and moose muscle; duck, moose, and muskrat livers; and moose and duck kidneys to be of concern for young children. Cadmium levels were again elevated in moose kidney and liver samples but also those of beaver and ducks … Mercury levels were also high for duck muscle, kidneys, and livers as well as moose and muskrat kidneys, especially for children. …

Total levels of PAHs [polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons] and levels of carcinogenic and alkylated PAHs were very high relative to other food studies conducted around the world.

The First Nations members aren’t shocked to hear this. Some have already started avoiding their traditional foods because of worries about contamination, they told researchers. More from the report:

Participants were concerned about declines in the quality of [traditional] foods, in the greatest part because of environmental pollutants originating from the Oil Sands. It was notable how many participants no longer consumed locally caught fish, because of government-issued consumption advisories and associated human health concerns. Muskrat consumption had also declined precipitously, along with muskrat populations, a decline that was attributed to changes in hydrology and contaminant levels associated with the WAC Bennett Dam and the Oil Sands. The only effective alternatives to traditional foods are store-bought foods. …

All participants were worried about ongoing declines in the health and wellbeing of their community. They generally viewed themselves as less healthy than their parents, who rarely got sick. Neurological illnesses (e.g. sleeping disorders, migraines, and stress) were most common followed, in descending order of frequency, by respiratory illnesses (e.g. allergies, asthma) as well as circulatory (e.g. hypertension, coronary) and gastrointestinal (e.g. gallbladder, ulcers) illnesses. Yet, everyone was most concerned about the current and escalating cancer crisis.

A documentary about the research — One River, Many Relations — will be released in October. Here’s a trailer:

Celebrating the return of the King Salmon: Blessing of the fishermen and sharing with our ancestors

Tulalip Salmon Ceremony c.1980sPhoto: Smithsonian, Natalie Fobes
Tulalip Salmon Ceremony c.1980s
Photo: Smithsonian, Natalie Fobes

By Andrew Gobin, Tulalip News

The people enter the longhouse led by an important visitor carried on a bed of ferns, cedars boughs, and salmonberries. As the people enter they announce that our visitor is hikw siyab yubech, Big Chief King Salmon, gathering around him in the center of the longhouse, rejoicing in his return and the promise he represents. The annual Salmon Ceremony celebrates the return of the King Salmon, the first salmon run of the year. It is a time for the people to all share in the first returning salmon. It is here that the yearly blessing of the fishermen takes place, praying for their safety and a bountiful season.

Helen Fenrich and Joanne Jones perform the blessing of the fishermen.Photo courtesy of the family of Stan and Joanne Jones
Helen Fenrich and Joanne Jones perform the blessing of the fishermen. 1997
Photo courtesy of the family of Stan and Joanne Jones

“We are thankful the fishermen have made it through another season. This is the reason we have the blessing of the fishermen, we ask the Great Spirit to bring them home safe, and ensure a good salmon catch,” said longtime ceremony leader, Stan Jones, Scho-Hallem.

For 24 years, my entire life, I have been raised with the salmon ceremony. I have attended all but one, and do not see myself missing any others. When practice starts, it is my favorite time of the year. For two months before the actual ceremony, families come together every week to share a meal, share the teachings, and share the songs and dances. I take great pride in seeing the ceremony continue and grow, and I am grateful to be a part of it. I’m thankful to carry on the work so many have handed down, thankful to see the familiar faces, and glad to see new faces.

Me, Andrew Gobin, leading the Snohomish War Dance for the first time in 1997.Photo courtesy of Stan and JoAnn Jones
Me, Andrew Gobin, leading the Snohomish War Dance for the first time in 1997. Derek Jones and James Whitebear follow.
Photo courtesy of Stan and JoAnn Jones

Glen Gobin, Tee-Chulh, who leads the ceremony today said, “This is the first year we have entered with the welcome song and not been able to fit everyone around the longhouse floor.”

In my lifetime, the number of participants has steadily grown. But over the last four or five years, many young people have started to come to practice, and continue to return year after year. This could not have been possible had the Salmon Ceremony been lost, as it almost was. Revived in 1974, thanks to the work of Harriet Shelton Dover, Morris and Bertha Dan, Molly Hatch, Daisy Williams, Stan and JoAnn Jones, Bernie and Delores Gobin, Neil Moses, Louie Moses, Bobby Moses, and many more, the ceremony continues today.

Harriette Shelton Dover speaks about the history of the salmon ceremony and how it was revived.Photo courtesy of Stan and JoAnn Jones
Harriette Shelton Dover speaks about the history of the salmon ceremony and how it was revived. 1976
Photo courtesy of Stan and JoAnn Jones

In First Salmon Ceremony Then and Now, Harriette Shelton Dover, Hiyultsa, was filmed as she spoke about the revival of the ceremony. “Morris Dan and I, we were cousins. And we talked about the salmon ceremony, which had been, really, disappeared, because all of the Indians were discouraged from speaking the Indian language. And so, this Salmon Ceremony is a revival of the Snohomish Tribe’s Salmon Ceremony.”

The Salmon Ceremony continues today. It is as much a place for learning as it is a place for celebration. During the weeks’ prior practices, families gather to teach new participants, ranging from small children up to their grandparents, the songs and dances, and what they mean literally and what they mean for our people. Many cultural values are discussed at practice as well, working to preserve the essence of our culture along with the songs and dances.

“We remember an almighty Creator, that we call, in our language, Dukwibulth. Dukwibulth created all the earth, all of its people. He created us. He created the salmon for our use,” said Hiyultsa.

We depend on the salmon in many ways for local economies and for cultural subsistence. One of the many teachings brought out at the ceremony each year is the importance of our visitor.

Glen Gobin leads the Salmon Ceremony, entering with the Snohomish Welcome Song. Photo: The Seattle Times.
Glen Gobin leads the Salmon Ceremony, entering with the Snohomish Welcome Song. 2000
Photo: The Seattle Times

“He is a scout for the salmon people,” said Tee-Chulh. “If we treat him with respect, if we receive him in a good way, and if we acknowledge his sacrifice for us to eat, he will return to the salmon village and tell his people that we are good people. And we will have a good fishing season that will sustain us through the year.”

“He is our grandfather,” added Patti Gobin, Squatalq, Glen’s sister who passes down the teachings she received from Hiyultsa at each practice. “Long before we were human, we were the salmon people. We still call ourselves the salmon people. Our grandfather allowed us to become human so long as we remembered who we are and where we come from. And so he comes every year to see if we remember and to see how we live our lives.”

His return symbolizes the return of a healthy salmon run, which our people depend on to survive, in many ways; as a source of income, and as a primary food source. A ceremonial feast to honor and celebrate that begins with the sharing of a small piece of fish and a drink of water, symbolic of everyone sharing in the salmon returning and the life that the water provides for our people.

For a few years now, the issues of climate change and environmental preservation and protection have been talked about on the long house floor at the salmon ceremony. Today, in the State of Washington, there is legislation being moved that would make regulations on industrial pollution more lenient. That legislation has direct impacts on the salmon and the people that depend on them.

“That piece of fish that we share in, that small amount we will all eat, that is equal to what the state is saying you can eat in a month without health risk. That’s not just us [Indian people], that’s everybody. And so, when we as tribes fight this, we do it for everyone,” said Tee-Chulh.

The Tulalip First Salmon Ceremony is about many things, but above all is the importance of culture. Our culture, the culture of the salmon people, extends far beyond our traditional customs to the values placed on caring for the environment and respecting the natural world. My grandfather, Bernie Gobin (Kia-Kia), always talked about respecting our resources, not taking them for granted.

Ray Fryberg Sr, Stan Jones Sr, and Stan "Sonny" Jones Jr. lead the people out to greet our visitor.
Ray Fryberg Sr, Stan Jones Sr, and Stan “Sonny” Jones Jr. lead the people out to greet our visitor. 1983 Photo: Stan and JoAnn Jones

Ray Fryberg Sr., Sdatalq, often shares a story that I appreciate. He was fishing with his grandmother, and there were lots of fish around, but his grandmother only ever caught enough to fill her small canoe and went home. When he asked why she didn’t stay and take more salmon home to sell or to keep, she simply replied that she left them so they would be there tomorrow.

The value in that story is to make sure there is enough salmon, enough of any natural resource, for tomorrow, for the next generation. That doesn’t just mean not overharvesting, it means protecting the environment so that the resource continues to not only survive, but thrive. If you take care of the resource it will continue to take care of you, and that is what salmon ceremony about today.



Andrew Gobin is a staff reporter with the Tulalip News See-Yaht-Sub, a publication of the Tulalip Tribes Communications Department.
Phone: (360) 716.4188

Tribal groups: Oregon coal terminal will hurt fish

Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. — Tribal groups say a coal terminal in the Columbia River Basin would interfere with treaty rights, harm fish and put the health of tribal members at risk.

About 50 Yakama Nation members protested Tuesday at site of the project at the Port of Morrow in Boardman. They say the terminal proposed by Ambre Energy would destroy tribal fishing areas.

The Oregon land board is to decide by May 31 whether to approve the project. In a letter to the board, the company says tribes are currently not fishing at its dock. But treaty rights guarantee a site for tribal use whether it is in use or not.

The company also says its dock would not “unreasonably interfere” with fishing.

Environmental groups and business leaders have also rallied against the project.

Read more here:

Being Frank: Keep Big Oil Out of Grays Harbor

Billy Frank
Billy Frank

By Billy Frank, Jr., Chairman, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission

OLYMPIA – Our environment, health, safety and communities are at risk from decisions being made now to transport and export trainloads of coal and oil through western Washington.

If coal export terminals proposed for Cherry Point near Bellingham, and Longview on the Columbia River are approved, hundreds of trains and barges would run from Montana and Wyoming every day, spreading coal dust along the way. That same coal will continue to pollute our world when it is burned in China and other countries thousands of miles away.

Now that threat is joined by proposals to use mile-long crude oil trains to feed massive new oil terminals in Grays Harbor.  Safety is a huge concern. Since 2008 nearly a dozen oil trains have been derailed in the U.S.  In December, a fire burned for over 24 hours after a 106-car train carrying crude oil collided with a grain train in North Dakota. In July, an oil train accident killed 47 people and leaked an estimated 1.5 million gallons of oil in Quebec, Canada.

It’s clear that crude oil can be explosive and the tankers used to transport it by rail are simply unsafe. These oil trains are an accident waiting to happen to any town along the route from the oil fields of the Midwest to the shores of western Washington.

Plans for shipping crude oil from Grays Harbor also include dredging the Chehalis River estuary, which will damage habitat needed by fish, shellfish and birds.  Large numbers of huge tanker ships moving in and out of the harbor would interfere with Indian and non-Indian fisheries and other vessel traffic.

The few jobs that the transport and export of coal and oil offer would come at the cost of catastrophic damage to our environment for years. We would have to live with that damage for many years. Everyone knows that oil and water don’t mix, and neither do oil and fish, oil and wildlife, or oil and just about everything else. It’s not a matter of whetherspills will happen, it’s a matter of when.

Thankfully, the Quinault Indian Nation is taking a stand. “The history of oil spills provides ample, devastating evidence that there are no reasonable conditions under which these proposed terminal projects should proceed,” says my friend, Fawn Sharp, president of the Quinault Indian Nation. “We oppose oil in Grays Harbor.  This is a fight we can’t afford to lose.  We’re in it to win. Our fishing, hunting and gathering rights are being jeopardized by the immediate and future impacts of these proposed developments.”

Right now public hearings are being held and Environmental Impact Statements are being developed for these oil export schemes. You can send comments to Maia Bellon, Director of the Department of Ecology, 300 Desmond Drive, Lacey, WA 98503-1274.

I urge you to join the Quinault Indian Nation and the many others who are battling Big Oil on this issue. Email or more information.

“We have a responsibility to protect the land and water for the generations to come. Together, we can build a sustainable economy without sacrificing our environment,” says Sharp.

She’s right.