Presentation Abstract

An extensive body of scientific literature is available on the effects of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) on fish. Pacific herring are a cornerstone species of the Pacific Northwest food web. Herring populations fluctuate annually with some areas of the Puget Sound seeing increased spawning, while other areas experiencing declines. These fish spawn on seagrass, macroalgae, rocks and a variety of structures. Creosote-treated pilings are one type of spawning structure, which typically results in detrimental effects to fish eggs. With thousands of creosote pilings in our Puget Sound waters, a serious challenge exists for spawning herring. In 2017, the largest creosote-treated piling removal project in Puget Sound took place in Port Gamble Bay as part of a larger baywide cleanup and restoration effort. Over 8,500 pilings, that supported lumber mill operations, were removed with nearly 100 percent fully extracted. Prior to cleanup, the Department of Ecology worked with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to conduct a herring embryo mortality study to examine the effects of PAHs and other contaminant exposure during this sensitive life stage. PAHs and other contaminants measured in shellfish have declined since cleanup and we are optimistic that these same results will be seen in a post-cleanup herring embryo study to be conducted in 2018. In other locations in Puget Sound, treated pilings remain as unsightly stubs, navigation hazards, and ongoing sources that slowly disintegrate and contribute to contamination of our waters and sediment. Given the substantial ecological benefits associated with effective piling removal, increased efforts and funding are needed to support full removal of creosote-treated wood from marine and freshwater environments. The small price of removal results in large gains for fish, shellfish, and other aquatic organisms, and for the humans that use our waters to live, work and play.

Session Title

Persistent Organic Pollutants and PAHs in Freshwater & Marine Fish

Keywords

Herring, Creosote, Treated pilings

Conference Track

SSE3: Fate, Transport, and Toxicity of Chemicals

Conference Name

Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference (Seattle, WA : 2018)

Document Type

Event

SSEC Identifier

SSE3-582

Start Date

4-4-2018 4:15 PM

End Date

4-4-2018 4:30 PM

Type of Presentation

Oral

Contributing Repository

Digital content made available by University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Geographic Coverage

Salish Sea (B.C. and Wash.)

Rights

This resource is displayed for educational purposes only and may be subject to U.S. and international copyright laws. For more information about rights or obtaining copies of this resource, please contact University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225-9103, USA (360-650-7534; heritage.resources@wwu.edu) and refer to the collection name and identifier. Any materials cited must be attributed to the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference Records, University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Type

text

Language

English

Format

application/pdf

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Apr 4th, 4:15 PM Apr 4th, 4:30 PM

How effective creosote-treated piling removal can help save a cornerstone species

An extensive body of scientific literature is available on the effects of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) on fish. Pacific herring are a cornerstone species of the Pacific Northwest food web. Herring populations fluctuate annually with some areas of the Puget Sound seeing increased spawning, while other areas experiencing declines. These fish spawn on seagrass, macroalgae, rocks and a variety of structures. Creosote-treated pilings are one type of spawning structure, which typically results in detrimental effects to fish eggs. With thousands of creosote pilings in our Puget Sound waters, a serious challenge exists for spawning herring. In 2017, the largest creosote-treated piling removal project in Puget Sound took place in Port Gamble Bay as part of a larger baywide cleanup and restoration effort. Over 8,500 pilings, that supported lumber mill operations, were removed with nearly 100 percent fully extracted. Prior to cleanup, the Department of Ecology worked with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to conduct a herring embryo mortality study to examine the effects of PAHs and other contaminant exposure during this sensitive life stage. PAHs and other contaminants measured in shellfish have declined since cleanup and we are optimistic that these same results will be seen in a post-cleanup herring embryo study to be conducted in 2018. In other locations in Puget Sound, treated pilings remain as unsightly stubs, navigation hazards, and ongoing sources that slowly disintegrate and contribute to contamination of our waters and sediment. Given the substantial ecological benefits associated with effective piling removal, increased efforts and funding are needed to support full removal of creosote-treated wood from marine and freshwater environments. The small price of removal results in large gains for fish, shellfish, and other aquatic organisms, and for the humans that use our waters to live, work and play.