PNW State of the Sound: New report indicates additional marine stress

On the surface, the Salish Sea looks beautiful, but it is in grave trouble. Southern Resident orcas, Chinook salmon, steelhead, and many other species are listed under the Endangered Species Act. Toxic chemicals and pharmaceuticals continue to pollute our waterways. Shellfish beds are routinely closed to commercial and recreational harvest due to fecal contamination. More indicators point in the direction of continued decay than in the direction of recovery, but the picture is not entirely without hope.

“Despite a significant investment of energy and resources from federal, tribal, state, and local governments and non-governmental partners, habitat degradation continues to outpace restoration,” warns Laura Blackmore, executive director of the Puget Sound Partnership. “While this situation at times seems impossibly bleak, the thousands of passionate people who are devoted to seeing the return of a healthy and resilient Puget Sound give us hope.”

The Puget Sound Partnership, the state agency leading the region’s collective effort to restore and protect the Salish Sea, released their biennial State of the Sound Report this week. The report stresses that “we can still recover Puget Sound, but only if we act boldly now.”

The report is clear that Puget Sound remains in grave trouble. The damaging effects of pollution, habitat degradation and disturbance persist. Human well-being is also affected, the report notes, by reducing fishing opportunities and threatening human health. Climate change impacts and continued population growth stand to increase pressures on an ecosystem already in peril.

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