Friday, January 25, 2008

Friday orca blogging

-- by Dave

Well, today the folks at the National Marine Fisheries Service announced their plan for orca recovery in the Puget Sound, and it's decidedly a tepid mixed bag. Rober Mcclure at the P-I has the details:
Expressing "considerable uncertainty" about how to rescue Puget Sound's imperiled orcas, federal fisheries officials said Thursday that the job will take more than 20 years and cost about $50 million.

Even that price tag considers only the extra costs of the National Marine Fisheries Service. The agency's recovery plan for orcas assumes that billions more will be spent to restore Puget Sound and bring back battered salmon runs -- orcas' main food.

Environmentalists attacked the recovery plan, released Thursday, as too vague, while the fisheries service said it lacked enough information about what's depressing the orca population to outline many fixes.

The plan specifically recommends stationing a fulltime rescue tugboat near Washington's outer coast to prevent an oil spill -- the biggest short-term threat to the orcas. It says "more aggressive initial responses" are needed.

It also calls for "greater efforts ... to minimize pollution," including the stormwater that washes filth into the Sound after every good-sized rain.

But mostly the plan, required under the Endangered Species Act, calls for more research and relies on existing efforts -- of uncertain adequacy -- to rescue Puget Sound and its salmon.

I'm sure that the feds can do better, and given a few more years and a different administration, one can hope they will. As it is, considering the current regime's propensities, I suppose we should be grateful that there hasn't been an executive order to start shooting at them. Yet.

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