Sunday, November 27, 2011

FISHERY: More bad news for cod fishery

New cod data shaking New England fishing industry

Atlantic cod fisheries have collapsedImage via Wikipedia(AP) BOSTON — A new look at the health of one of New England's most storied fish stocks is troubling the industry, with some saying the findings have got to be wrong.

Just three years ago, a federal study showed the Gulf of Maine cod was healthy and headed toward recovery.

Now preliminary data suggest the valuable species is in dismal shape and won't rebuild within the time set by federal law. In a worst-case scenario, that could mean a broad fishery shutdown to protect the cod. But that step would be drastic and a long ways away.

More ...

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

RESTORATION: Good news from the Petitcodiac River

Microgadus tomcodTomcod Image via WikipediaStill recovering from the battering it's received at the hands of mankind, the poor Petitcodiac River still has a way to go before achieving anything close to full health.

But judging from the Petitcodiac Fish Recovery Coalition's fish trap results for this year, we are at least starting to make amends for strangling the life out of the river for more than two generations.

The coalition first set up its fish trap last year, just after the gates blocking the river at the Moncton-Riverview causeway were opened for good. Not much changed that year, but then again, since the gates had only just been opened and thus the headpond still existed until a short time earlier, no great results were anticipated. This spring the trap was set up again near the old railway trestle at Salisbury and the improvement in returns of some species was nothing short of striking, especially considering this trap only catches a sampling of the fish travelling upstream, not all of the fish.

No Atlantic salmon were trapped in 2011 after one smolt was caught in the previous year - likely that fish was confused because a smolt should have been going out to sea, not upstream and into the fish trap at that time of year - and those who think that opening the causeway gates was a mistake will seize upon the dearth of salmon so far as evidence of their claim. What those people refuse to consider is that it has always been known that restoring already endangered inner Bay of Fundy salmon to this river will take time, maybe even decades, if it happens at all. The opening of the gates was never about just the salmon; it was always about the passage of all native species of fish upstream beyond the causeway gates, and that is not a subject for debate but rather a raw fact.

Still, one salmon did make it upstream in 2011 even though it didn't land in the trap - its sonar tag's signal was picked up as it made its way to wherever it was going - a good sign indeed, in particular because the fish was one of several that had been released earlier in the year in the Bay of Fundy, and only one in 10 of those fish was tagged, making it somewhat improbable that the tagged fish was the only one of the releasees to make its way up the Petitcodiac River.

Could this - or these - salmon represent the vanguard of the permanent, naturally recurring return of Fundy salmon to the Petitcodiac, where our parents and grandparents used to angle for majestic Atlantics until the 1960s? Only time can answer that question.

Perhaps a better indication of how opening the gates has benefited the river - can there be a better indicator of a river's health than its fish? - is the presence of a much greater diversity of fish this year compared to previous years when the gates were closed. And nowhere is this more eyebrow-raising than in the sudden return of the striped bass. Where not a single striper was detected above the causeway for many decades, two baby bass showed up in early summer with more babies following throughout the season, followed by a stream of two-year-old fish later last summer, in turn followed by more mature fish in the fall, for a total return of 158 fish. And remember, this trap was not designed to catch every fish in the river, so it is quite likely that the number of stripers or any other species mentioned here was actually higher than the coalition's annual report cites.

Of particular note, the stripers seemed to make their way upstream of the causeway during periods when the tides were highest - surely an indication of the importance of restoring the tidal influence above that abominable structure.

Also rebounding in great numbers are the tomcod, and coincidentally or not the tommycod were also considered, like the stripers, to be gone forever from the waters above the causeway.

Where a single tomcod was found in the fish trap last year, the first seen that far upstream for decades, last year 1,316 tommycod were recorded, again with the period of most abundance coinciding with the highest tides of each month.

The news hasn't been as great for some native Petitcodiac species, however. For example, shad used to be plentiful upstream of the causeway but not a single specimen has been seen in decades. A single shad was detected this year, but it was well outside its usual spawning run, so who knows what that means? Likely only that we have a long way to go yet in restoring the river.

The number of gaspereaux fell precipitously this year compared to last, but that could be explained by the annual migration going by the fish trap prior to it being installed last spring. Somewhat similarly, no rainbow smelt were detected last year or this year, but perhaps the smelt passed by before the trap was set up.

And just two trout were counted as well, again demonstrating that there's a lot of work left to do yet.

Thanks to the coalition's efforts, we can see the turnaround that is occurring in the river. We can also see the extent of the damage we've done and that it's going to take some time before the river forgives us our trespasses.

Still, the progress is remarkable given the relatively tiny tidal opening the fish have to work with compared to pre-1968, when we decided to choke the river almost to death. Imagine what might happen if the federal and provincial governments own up to their crime against nature and fully restore the most significant natural feature of this entire area once and for all.

* James Foster is a Times & transcript reporter and avid outdoorsman. His column appears on Fridays.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

LNG: Canada Remains Opposed to LNG in Passamaquoddy Bay.

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LNG: US Natural Gas Production Obsoletes Proposed Downeast LNG Project

Dean Girdis
2011 Nov 14

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) announced new information on November 8 that US domestic natural gas production is expected to reach record highs in 2012. Conversely, it also expects liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports to drop from a 2007 high of 770.8 billion cubic feet (bcf) for the entire year (2.111 bcf/day)[1] to an amazing low of only 0.7 bcf/day.[2] And, LNG imports from Trinidad — the US's closest and greatest LNG supplier — have dropped 66%, due to flourishing US natural gas production according to Trinidad and Tobago Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine on November 13.[3]

"The proposed Downeast LNG project principals have said for over six years that they planned to build an LNG import facility with a daily capacity of 0.5 bcf/day," said Save Passamaquoddy Bay researcher and webmaster Robert Godfrey. "The government indicates that the entire country is destined to import only slightly more LNG than is being proposed by still-unpermitted Downeast LNG. Downeast LNG's proposed project is completely unreasonable and unrealistic from any business or logical perspective. And, the US already has 13 other nearly-idle LNG import terminals — with a total capacity of 18.835 bcf/day — 27 times greater than the entire country will use next year. "What planet are the Downeast LNG principals and investors on?" asked Godfrey. "Downeast LNG has no permit applications with the State of Maine, having withdrawn their state permit applications in 2007 after going all the way through the process, including formal hearings, before determining permitting would be denied. Downeast LNG is over two years late in responding to questions from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the lead permitting agency. Downeast LNG is also a year late in answering additional FERC questions, and has just notified FERC — on the November 8 date due — that they would be late in answering a third set of questions. The idea of a Downeast LNG terminal in Passamaquoddy Bay is a non-starter.

"The US already has many times more LNG import infrastructure than it can possibly use due to the industry's previous rush to build unneeded terminals. And now, due to the well-documented, decades-long domestic natural gas glut the country is facing, the industry is actually starting a mad rush to export LNG overseas," Godfrey said. "Downeast LNG's bald assertion that their ill-conceived, wrongly-sited proposed project it is still needed staggers the mind. There is plentiful natural gas in the US, the Northeast, New England, and downeast Maine without yet another defunct-before-it's-even-permitted, idle LNG terminal — especially an inappropriately-sited one like Downeast LNG."

On November 8 the US Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources held a hearing on exporting LNG.[4] Representatives from the US Department of Energy, Rice University Institute for Public Policy, and Shell Exploration & Production Company testified that such great quantities of domestic natural gas exist that LNG exports are in the public interest. The Hamilton, Ohio, Director of Underground Utilities testified that the US is in the enviable position of establishing energy independence, and no longer needs to import natural gas. "Regardless of advocating exporting or not," Godfrey said, "the testimony indicates that domestic natural gas is available in massive, decades-long supply, eliminating the need to import LNG."

"What's more," Godfrey continued, "Downeast LNG cannot meet the US Coast Guard's requirements regarding LNG ship safety and security. The Coast Guard has stipulated that Downeast LNG must obtain Government of Canada cooperation and coordination for safe and secure LNG ship transits through both Canadian and US waters.[5] Canada has resolutely and repeatedly indicated it will not do so.[6]

"The Coast Guard also requires Downeast LNG to obtain letters of approval from Native American tribes whose waterway rights would be impacted by Downeast LNG's project. And yet, Downeast LNG has made the offensive, inaccurate claim that Native Americans have no rights in the waterway[7]," Godfrey said.

"It's time Downeast LNG's Dean Girdis and cohorts, and their venture-capital partners, Kestrel Energy Partners and Yorktown Energy Partners, faced reality. Downeast LNG was years-late, inappropriately-sited, and surplus even when first proposed in 2005. It is grossly more so now, with insurmountable obstacles. There is no demonstrable need — in fact, quite the opposite. It's time for Downeast LNG and their venture capitalists to face reality, cease their fruitless delays, stop wasting everyone's time, and go home," Godfrey concluded.

[1] US Energy Information Administration,
[2] Reuters,
[3] Bloomberg Businessweek,
[4] US Senate,
[5] US Coast Guard, (PDF file, 12.5 MB)
[6] Bangor Daily News,
[7] FERC, Draft Environmental Impact Statement, 4.8--Socioeconomics, page 4-286 last paragraph to page 4-287 first paragraph,
Save Passamaquoddy Bay (SPB) is an alliance of citizens from the U.S., the Passamaquoddy Tribe, and Canada, who oppose siting LNG industrial facilities in Passamaquoddy Bay, and who advocate adherence to world-recognized LNG terminal siting best safe practices as published by the Society of International Gas Tanker and Terminal Operators (SIGTTO). SPB advocates creative-economy, tradition-based, and tourism-based economic development for the international Passamaquoddy Bay area.

Robert Godfrey
Save Passamaquoddy Bay 3-nation alliance (US, Passamaquoddy, and Canada)
PO Box 222
Eastport, ME 04631
(207)853-2922 (Old Sow Publishing)

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Friday, November 11, 2011

BIRDS: Remembrance Day Report from Machias Seal Island

Northern Gannets (Morus bassanus), Bonaventure...Image via WikipediaFri, 11 Nov 2011 00:45:46 -0400 From: Ralph Eldridge

I left the island late Wednesday morning just as our spell of beautiful weather was coming to an end. Through the early week the land birds were unexciting. Only a pair of friendly MOCKINGBIRDS and 3 PALM WARBLERS were of particular note. 

 On the water, there was a lot of feeding activity throughout last weekend and into early Wednesday. Several hundred GANNETS, a few SHEARWATERS and lots of GULLS dominated the waters. Numerous KITTIWAKES, RAZORBILLS, COMMON LOONS and MERGANSERS were also evident.

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SHALE GAS: Alternative Fracking Methods.

As a matter of interest, there are alternate methods for fracking that do not have the same environmental impacts as the traditional methods. The following was brought to my attention by Bob Godfrey, Researcher at Save Passamaquoddy Bay.

GASFRAC Energy Services Inc. (Trading on the TSX-V as "GFS") GASFRAC Energy Services Inc’s. proprietary LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) Fracturing Process utilizes gelled LPG in place of conventional fracturing fluids. The unique properties of the LPG fracturing process result in significant savings on material expenses and fracture clean up, as well as increased well productivity.

 The gelled LPG used in the fracturing process has the ability to both generate the necessary fracture system, carry the proppant through the wellbore and place into the oil and gas reservoir being stimulated.

The LPG used in the process is highly soluble in formation hydrocarbons. As a result, the LPG process results in less damage to formations than conventional hydraulic fracturing. And unlike conventional treatments where as much as 50% of the carrier remains in the reservoir and hinders well performance, virtually 100% of the LPG can be recovered.

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Sunset at Image via Wikipedia
The Conservation Council of New Brunswick (CCNB) has been working to protect our critical marine environments.
Fundy Baykeeper, part of our Marine Program has been working to defend
the Bay of Fundy since being founded in 2003. Through active
patrolling in the Baykeeper boat, Fundy Baykeeper assesses the threats
to the bay and works toward solutions with wide ranging partners. Our
founding Baykeeper and long time member of CCNB, Dave Thompson,
retired last month but remains active in CCNB on our board of
directors. Matthew Abbott, the Marine Project Coordinator, has moved
into the role of Fundy Baykeeper.

Over the past year we have been active members in a number of
campaigns with wide ranging partners including a call for a halt to
the use of eco-toxic pesticides in the open netpen salmon aquaculture
industry; a campaign to stop the approval of genetically modified
Atlantic Salmon; and the ongoing campaign to restore gaspereau
(alewives) to the St Croix River.

In the summer of 2010, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans quietly
released its assessment of the health of Canada’s major marine
ecosystems. The key findings were blunt and chilling; marine food webs
are crumbling and ocean waters are acidifying. Conservation Council
worked to shine the light of public attention on the report card and
build awareness about its findings among national environmental
organizations and parliamentarians. We encouraged Tides Canada to help
convene a three oceans summit to develop a course of action in

CCNB was the driving force behind the establishment of the Musquash
Estuary Marine Protected Area (MPA). Estuaries are some of the most
productive ecosystems on earth, their preservation is critical. As the
last intact estuary in the Bay of Fundy/Gulf of Maine and the largest
remaining salt marsh in the Bay of Fundy, the protection of Musquash
is essential. CCNB has continued to defend Musquash by serving on the
Advisory Committee for the MPA, stopping the development of an
aquaculture site just outside the borders of the MPA, and carrying out
regular patrols at key sites to clean up marine debris and curb
illegal dumping. We host an annual Musquash Paddle to allow citizens
to fully experience Musquash from the water.

Baykeeper was instrumental in organizing the Atlantic Coalition for
Aquaculture Reform (ACAR) and continues to serve as co-coordinator of
the coalition. This coalition of fishermen’s associations,
environmental organizations, and concerned coastal citizens from both
New Brunswick and Nova Scotia has banded together to highlight and
address the environmental damage and threats to traditional fisheries
caused by the salmon aquaculture industry. Given the ongoing expansion
of salmon aquaculture into Nova Scotia, ACAR has served as an
important forum to organize coordinated regional activities to
highlight the folly of industrial feedlot aquaculture and put real
pressure on federal and provincial governments to appropriately
regulate the industry. ACAR has also served as a critical venue for
collaboration with groups on the West Coast also highlighting the
impacts of salmon aquaculture.

Despite abandoning plans for a second oil refinery in Saint John in
2009, Irving Oil continued with the provincial and federal
environmental assessment processes for the associated marine terminal.
Fundy Baykeeper was an official intervenor and provided expert
evidence of the damage the construction and operation of such a marine
terminal would cause in the coastal ecosystem.

While it remains critical, partly because of the monitoring,
reporting, and advocacy work of Baykeeper, the marine debris problem
in the Quoddy Region, in the outer Bay of Fundy has improved
considerably. For instance, we have secured the clean-up of several
more large debris sites through our work this patrol season.

To learn more about CCNB’s Marine program and Fundy Baykeeper, contact
Matthew Abbott, Fundy Baykeeper:; (506)

For further information, please contact us at:

180 St. John St.,
Fredericton, NB
E3B 4A9
Tel: 506 458-8747
Fax: 506 458-1047
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Thursday, November 10, 2011

OFFSHORE DRILLING: Breaking News from Conservation Law Foundation

Lessons for us in Fundy to learn?

No New Drilling in New England

Posted: 10 Nov 2011 09:54 AM PST

Fire Boats Attempt to Control Fire on BP's Deepwater Horizon

Earlier this week Secretary Salazar announced the Department of the Interior’s five-year proposal for oil and gas leases in our nation’s oceans. Much to the relief of New England’s fishermen, beachgoers, and coastal businesses, the Obama Administration’s proposal keeps the oil industry out of New England’s ocean and the rest of the Atlantic coast. CLF has long opposed oil drilling off of New England’s coasts and joined with the Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Association to block drilling 30 years ago when test wells were being drilled on the rich fishing grounds of Georges Bank.

CLF opposes offshore drilling for the very simple reason that a healthy, thriving ocean free of oil spills is worth far more to our region than the oil that potentially lies beneath the waves. From fishing to recreation to coastal tourism, a healthy ocean contributes more than $17.5 billion to our economy every year.

Just over a year ago, we watched in horror as the BP Deepwater Horizon rig burst into flames, unleashing what would become the nation’s greatest environmental disaster. But for the efforts of CLF, our allies in the fishing industry and environmental community and champions such as Congressman Ed Markey, that oil could very well have been washing up on the beaches of Cape Cod’s National Seashore or on the rocky coasts of Maine.

The fact is that unless we get permanent protection for our ocean and coasts oil drilling off of New England’s coasts remains a real threat. Congress has failed to reauthorize a congressional moratorium on drilling on Georges Bank introduced by Congressman Ed Markey, and earlier this summer the House passed legislation that could require drilling off of New England’s coast and in other sensitive areas around the nation.

Given the importance of the ocean to New England’s economy and last summer’s stark example of the danger drilling poses to jobs, the economy, our beaches, wildlife and our quality of life you would think that New England’s representatives to Congress would oppose such legislation, and many did. Unfortunately Representatives Charlie Bass and Frank Guinta, both of New Hampshire, supported the House legislation which passed. Most of New England’s Republican Senators, Brown of Massachusetts, Ayotte of New Hampshire and Collins of Maine all supported similar legislation in the Senate. Senator Snowe of Maine joined all of New England’s Democratic Senators to reject the drilling requirement. Fortunately, this time, the Senate voted down this legislation.

Yesterday’s decision by President Obama and Interior Secretary Salazar to keep New England’s ocean and coastal economy oil rig free should be applauded as the important step forward that it is. However, New England’s ocean is far too important to our lives and our economy to face such constant threats. It is time for Senators Brown, Ayotte and Collins as well as Representatives Bass and Guinta to stand with the rest of New England’s delegation and support permanent protection from drilling off of New England’s coast. If your Representative or Senator is on that list, you can contact them by calling the Congressional switchboard at 202-224-3121.

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'via Blog this'

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NUCLEAR: Unanswered questions about Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station.

Dateline: Bay of Fundy, November 10, 2011.

As the 7 natural wonders hype about the Bay of Fundy begins to die down with the closing of the 7 wonders contest, it is time for all Canadian citizens to address the darker issues of the Bay of Fundy and to move towards greater protection of Canada's number 1 natural treasure. Among those darker concerns is the Bay of Fundy's nuclear presence.

As the refurbishment of the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Stations continues to plod along while sucking up millions more of the taxpayers money, the media seems strangely quiet even while the lobby for decommissioning of this facility continues ...  unfortunately with little apparent public support. It is odd indeed that the most sinister development in the Bay of Fundy draws little or no concern from the average citizen.

With the continuing nuclear disaster in Japan and the horrendous impacts globally to our air, earth, and water, don't Maritimers have the slightest concern about the refurbishment of a rickety old Candu reactor that sits right on friable shale on the Fundy fault block? Do we not, at least, have questions that need to be answered?

Well,  Willi Nolan of the International Institute of Concern for Public Health (IICPH) has been asking these questions for some time now. Addressed to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) during a “CNSC 101 Information Session for Stakeholders” which was held on June 23, 2011 at the Hilton Convention Centre in St. John, New Brunswick, the questions were sent to the CNSC Directorate of Nuclear Cycle and Facilities Regulation in July, 2011. CNSC responded to some of these and other questions on November 9, 2011. They are all listed at . You will note with interest I am sure, that many answers remain pending.

IICPH provides information about the dangers of Point Lepreau and is fighting for the decommissioning of this old and dangerous plant. You can learn more at: