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Groups call for better protection of Puget Sound

The state’s 2013 report on continued decline and lack of progress in recovering the health of Puget Sound should be a wake-up call to strengthen protection of nearshore fish habitats, according to Sound Action, a Puget Sound environmental watchdog group.

Projects such as bulkheads, piers, dredging, marinas and barging facilities must result in no net-loss of habitat function, Sound Action insists, and must provide protection for habitats during fish spawning and rearing times.

“The nearshore areas of Puget Sound are the nurseries of a healthy Puget Sound,” Sound Action Executive Director Amy Carey said. “In-water construction activity should only be done at times and in ways that ensure no harm to fish activity and habitats.”

To that end, Sound Action has systematically reviewed hydraulic code permits issued by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and most recently has appealed permits on projects that fail to protect fish activity and nearshore habitats as state law requires.

In October, WDFW initiated revision of the state hydraulic code with an initial public comment process closing on Nov. 15.

The public comment deadline was extended by the WDFW to Dec. 13 to allow for more public participation as a result of a request by Sound Action and a coalition of 14 Washington state environmental organizations, including Washington Environmental Council, Futurewise, League of Women Voters of Washington, RE Sources and Friends of the San Juans.

“Recovering the health of Puget Sound and our orcas, salmon and herring requires more diligent protection of critical nearshore habitats,” Carey said. “To do less would be a tragic loss of all that we value living here.”

 

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