Contact Us

Newsroom

2013 News Releases

 

Health of the Salish Sea Report shows mixed trends for key environmental indicators in Puget Sound and Northwest Straits

Release Date: 07/18/2013
Contact Information: Hanady Kader, EPA Public Affairs, 206-553-0454, kader.hanady@epa.gov; Environment Canada Media Relations, 819-934-8008

Health of the Salish Sea Report shows mixed trends for key environmental indicators in Puget Sound and Northwest Straits

Freshwater quality and air quality improve; Chinook salmon abundance, marine species and marine water quality decline

Contact: Hanady Kader, EPA Public Affairs, 206-553-0454, kader.hanady@epa.gov; Environment Canada Media Relations, 819-934-8008

(Seattle—July 18, 2013) A report featuring key environmental indicators for the Salish Sea shows mixed trends, with some indicators showing improvements, others declining, and others remaining steady. The Health of the Salish Sea Ecosystem Report, issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Environment Canada, features indicators in four key areas: Air, water, animal species, and human well-being. The contents of the report are featured in a comprehensive website: http://www2.epa.gov/salish-sea

“These indicators can help us assess priorities and develop better strategies to protect the Salish Sea,” said Dennis McLerran, Regional Administrator for EPA Region 10. “We can use this information to guide how we use resources and commit attention to areas that need improvement.”

As a whole, the 2013 report showed positive trends in reducing pollution in the aquatic food web, but showed continuing declines across aquatic habitat and species based indicators.

More specifically, the report shows improved air quality, improved freshwater water quality and reductions in persistent toxic chemicals in the aquatic food web. The indicators representing populations of wild species, including marine species at risk and Chinook salmon abundance, need more attention. Two habitat indicators sensitive to climate change, summer stream flow and marine water quality, are also showing declining trends.

The ten indicators and trends showed the following results:

Indicators with improving trends:

    Fine air particulates
    Freshwater quality
    Toxics in the food web

Indicators with neutral trends:
    Orcas
    Shellfish beaches
    Swimming beaches

Indicators with declining trends:
    Marine species at risk
    Chinook salmon
    Marine water quality
    Streamflow

The Health of the Salish Sea website features informational snapshots of each indicator and answers the questions: What is happening? Why is it important? Why is it happening? The website also describes traditional and local ecological knowledge to complement the indicators, extending the time period reflected by the indicators and illustrating their significance to life in the Salish Sea ecosystem.

The Health of the Salish Sea Indicators Project, a joint initiative between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Environment Canada, describes trends that help agencies identify priorities for future action across the entire Salish Sea. Previous reports were published in 2002 and 2006. This report and accompanying website update previous indicators and expand the suite of information across the international border to increase their relevance to ecosystem health, including human well-being.

In 2000, EPA and Environment Canada signed a Joint Statement of Cooperation to facilitate cross-border understanding, dialogue, and collaboration on Salish Sea issues. From this partnership came the Salish Sea ecosystem indicators to help show where we see progress in sustainably managing the Salish Sea ecosystem, where conditions are declining, and where course corrections are needed.

A number of current publications report on environmental conditions in the Salish Sea, including the Vital Signs issued by the Puget Sound Partnership. The Salish Sea Indicators website expands the geographic scope, giving a transboundary perspective of the health of the ecosystem. The ecosystem indicators draw on existing publicly-available information, including agency technical reports, scientific sampling from Canadian and U.S. sources, and scientific work by non-governmental organizations.

For more information and to read about each indicator, visit the Health of the Salish Sea website:

http://www2.epa.gov/salish-sea