For Immediate Release
March 14, 2018
GOVERNOR INSLEE ANNOUNCES ORCA RECOVERY TASK FORCE
***Statement from Jacques White, Executive Director, Long Live the Kings***
Long Live the Kings is leading a research project to determine why Chinook salmon, a critical component of Orcas’ diet, are dying in Puget Sound.
Jacques White, 206-718-5061, Executive Director, Long Live the Kings
Michael Schmidt, 206-669-7276, Deputy Director, Long Live the Kings
“Governor Inslee’s announcement today recognizes the urgency of our Orcas’ plight – it’s getting harder and harder for Orcas in Puget Sound to find enough salmon to eat, escape noise and traffic, and resist the toxic pollution building up in their bodies.”
“The bad news is that Orcas are in serious trouble and we have a long road ahead to make Puget Sound a safer, healthier place for Orcas. The good news is that the actions needed to help Orcas will improve the overall health of Puget Sound for all of us. Cleaner water, stronger salmon runs, smarter hatchery management and restored natural areas will make Puget Sound a better, more productive place for people as well as Orcas.”
Chinook salmon are a critical component of our resident Orcas’ diet. Driven to help restore Chinook populations that are essential to Orca survival, Long Live the Kings has convened The Salish Sea Marine Survival Project uniting U.S. and Canadian researchers to determine why juvenile Chinook, coho, and steelhead are dying in our combined waters of Puget Sound and the Strait of Georgia, collectively known as the Salish Sea.
About Long Live the Kings
Long Live the Kings (LLTK) works to restore wild salmon and steelhead and support sustainable fishing in the Pacific Northwest. Since its founding in 1986, LLTK has combined innovative field work, pioneering science, broad partnerships, and sophisticated new management tools to help decision-makers advance salmon recovery while balancing the needs of fish and people.
Long Live the Kings has been awarded a grant from Microsoft as part of its ‘AI for Earth’ program. The grant will be used to power an intensive ecosystem model of Puget Sound.
AI for Earth is a Microsoft program aimed at empowering people and organizations to solve global environmental challenges by increasing access to AI tools and educational opportunities, while accelerating innovation, via the Azure for Research AI for Earth award program, Microsoft provides selected researchers and organizations access to its cloud and AI computing resources to accelerate, improve and expand work on climate change, agriculture, biodiversity and/or water challenges.
Long Live the Kings, a nonprofit with over 30 years of experience recovering wild salmon and steelhead and supporting sustainable fisheries, is among the first grant recipients of AI for Earth, which was first launched in July 2017. The grant process was a competitive and selective process and was awarded in recognition of the potential of the work and power of AI to accelerate progress.
“Microsoft’s Azure platform gives us the capacity, power and speed to rapidly assess impacts to our Puget Sound food web that may ultimately be affecting the salmon we care so much about,” said Long Live the Kings Deputy Director, Michael Schmidt.
The ecological model Azure supports is part of the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project, a 60 entity, $20 million effort to determine why juvenile salmon are dying in our combine marine waters of Puget Sound and the Strait of Georgia. Bolstering marine ecosystem modeling with Azure cloud computing will provide natural resource mangers the opportunity to understand how changes to our ecosystem (pollution, warming waters, etc.) will affect salmon and other key Puget Sound species, such as killer whales and shellfish.
To date, Microsoft has distributed more than 35 grants to qualifying researchers and organizations around the world. Microsoft recently announced their intent to put $50 million over 5 years into the program, enabling grant-making and educational trainings possible at a much larger scale.
More information can be found on these websites:
AI for Earth: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/aiforearth
Long Live the Kings: https://lltk.org/
The Salish Sea Marine Survival Project: https://marinesurvivalproject.com/
Approximately 65% of juvenile, out-migrating steelhead that make it to the Hood Canal floating bridge do not make it to Admiralty Inlet, a location just North of the bridge on their migratory route. This high level of mortality may be limiting the species’ recovery, as steelhead are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Long Live the Kings (LLTK), a Seattle-based environmental 501(c)(3) nonprofit with 30 years of experience in salmon recovery, is leading a team to pin-point exactly how steelhead are dying in the area and discover if the floating bridge impacts water quality. A $750,000 appropriation in Washington State’s 2017-2018 biennial budget was recently received in support of the current, $2.5 million, phase of the Hood Canal Bridge Ecosystem Impact Assessment.
LLTK’s Executive Director, Jacques White commented, “Long Live the Kings has been working with our partners from around Hood Canal to address a significant survival bottleneck for our state fish. This project is an example of cooperative work to sustain both the environment and people by leveraging regional expertise and resources to improve wild fish survival without undermining the importance of critical transportation
Scott Brewer, Executive Director of the Hood Canal Coordinating Council and a key partner in the project added, “The Hood Canal Coordinating Council works with the community to protect and recover Hood Canal’s environmental, economic, and cultural well being. Recovering wild steelhead populations is an important component of that goal and the recent appropriation to the bridge assessment will help ensure our success.”
Work on phase 1 of the Assessment officially began in late 2016 and will continue into early 2019, taking advantage of two field research seasons. The 2017 research period was successfully completed this summer and scientists are processing data that will provide additional insight. During phase 1, scientists will assess the impact of local predators, light and noise from the bridge, water circulation, and track juvenile steelhead using specially designed devices. The data will help determine cost effective solutions that do not affect the bridge’s transportation functions.
The $750k state appropriation was championed by Senator Christine Rolfes (D-23) and Representative Drew MacEwen (R-35). Through the efforts of LLTK, Hood Canal Coordinating Council, Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, state legislators, and others, the appropriation received bipartisan support and was included in the operating budget during a legislative session with a historic number of demands on the State’s funds. Other legislators were also critical to the appropriation’s success, including: Senator Tim Sheldon (D-35), Senator Kevin Van De Wege (D-24), Senator Dino Rossi (R-45), Senator Kevin Ranker (D-40), Representative Sherry Appleton (D-23), Representative Drew Hansen (D-23), Representative Steve Tharinger (D-24), Representative Mike Chapman (D-24), and Representative Dan Griffey (R-35). The appropriation added to a pool of federal, private, local, and state funds, which has reached $2.25 million. The remaining need is $250,000.
“We need to know why these fish are disappearing in the vicinity of the bridge and we need to work together to address the changes that may be necessary. The lessons learned from this project may be applicable to bridge infrastructure in other parts of the state and nation, contributing to a healthier marine environment. The legislative delegation from the peninsula region was united in our support of this work,” said Senate Rolfes.
Steelhead are essentially rainbow trout with a life cycle similar to salmon where they return to their stream of origin to spawn after maturing in the ocean. Salmon and steelhead are important cultural resources for local Native American Tribes, they are a fixture in the Pacific Northwest economy and day-to-day life, and are critical to the health of the local environment. The steelhead is also Washington’s state fish.
The Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe has fishing areas in Hood Canal which are an important part of their cultural heritage. “Since Port Gamble S’Klallam tribe helped initiate the project in 2012, we’ve made great progress,” said Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe’s Natural Resource Director, Paul McCollum. “Steelhead are an important tribal resource and we are pleased to see the state’s recent investment to protect tribal rights by working towards improving steelhead populations.”
The Hood Canal Bridge is the third largest floating bridge in the world and provides a valuable connection for thousands of people each day traveling from the Kitsap and Olympic Peninsulas in Western Washington. The bridge’s pontoons span 83% of the width of the canal and extend 15 feet underwater. The Hood Canal is a fjord, and the bridge’s pontoons pose a potential limit on the exchange of fresh and salt water that is necessary to preserve water quality and prevent harmful conditions for aquatic species.
Other partners include: Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Washington State Department of Transportation, and the U.S. Navy.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: Lucas Hall | email@example.com | 206.382.9555 x30
Survive the Sound participants sponsor a steelhead, track it as it migrates through Puget Sound, and receive updates about the challenges their fish encounters along its way to the Pacific Ocean.
Seattle— Salmon recovery nonprofit Long Live the Kings (LLTK) has partnered with Vulcan Inc. to develop Survive the Sound, an innovative new way for people of all ages to learn about steelhead—Washington’s State Fish—and contribute to their recovery.
Survive the Sound is the first ever endurance race for wild steelhead. It uses real data, obtained from sophisticated transmitters implanted in the fish, to track steelhead’s migration from release points in south Puget Sound and Hood Canal to the Pacific Ocean.
From now until May 7, Survive the Sound participants can sponsor the fish of their choice with a minimum $25 donation. Beginning on May 8, sponsors will watch as their fish embark on a harrowing 12-day journey—avoiding predators, fighting disease, and navigating obstacles—on their way to the Pacific.
Email and text alerts will signal to sponsors when their steelhead have made it beyond important milestones, and even when the fish have perished due to any of the myriad struggles they encounter on their migration route. Prizes will be awarded to sponsors who build the biggest “school,” who have the most survivors, whose fish have the fastest average speed and travel the greatest average distance.
Throughout the Survive the Sound experience, sponsors will learn about steelhead, the challenges they face in the Salish Sea, and what is being done to recover imperiled populations.
All fish sponsorships support LLTK, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that has been working to restore wild salmon and steelhead and support sustainable fishing in the Pacific Northwest for more than 30 years.
How Survive the Sound Works
Each year, wild steelhead are caught as they make their way downriver from their natal streams. LLTK and partners implant the fish with tracking devices, each of which emits a unique acoustic ping. The steelhead are then tracked by researchers who triangulate their position with receivers that have been placed in the water in various locations around Puget Sound. The steelhead available for sponsorship through Survive the Sound represent real fish, using data that depicts real survival outcomes for the entire population.
This work is part of the larger Salish Sea Marine Survival Project, an international US/Canada effort to determine why certain species of salmon and steelhead are dying in the combined marine waters of Puget Sound and Strait of Georgia.
Why it Matters
Currently, only 20% of wild steelhead survive their trek through the saltwater environment of Puget Sound. They’re now listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Unless we can better understand the reasons for steelhead’s decline in Puget Sound and mitigate the threats they face, there is serious concern that steelhead may slip into extinction.
Survive the Sound provides scientists with important new data about steelhead’s lifecycle, gives the public an opportunity to engage with wild steelhead in a fun and interactive new way, and raises essential funds for Long Live the Kings’ salmon and steelhead recovery projects.
To learn more, visit www.survivethesound.org.
Opportunities are available to experience the science behind Survive the Sound in action. To schedule, contact Lucas Hall: 206.382.9555, x30 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
High resolution images are available upon request.
# # #
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Iconic northwest companies commit to bringing back our most iconic species | Aerospace giant The Boeing Company and philanthropist Paul G. Allen’s Vulcan Inc. commit to the recovery of northwest salmon by putting their support behind Long Live the Kings. Read more