Our mission is to protect the habitat of Puget Sound tidelands from the underregulated expansion of new and intensive shellfish aquaculture methods. These methods were never anticipated when the Shoreline Management Act was passed. They are transforming the natural tideland ecosystems in Puget Sound and are resulting in a fractured shoreline habitat. In South Puget Sound much of this has been done with few if any meaningful shoreline permits, limited public input, and with minimal peer-reviewed science. It is exactly what the Shoreline Management Act was intended to prevent.

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/protectourshore
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ProtectOurShoreline
Older News: from 2006 to 8/20/10
(This blog evolved from: http://protectourshoreline.org/)

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Drakes Bay Oyster Company: Should these buildings be saved for beef jerky?

Beef jerky for sale on Drakes Estero. Will
the Department of Health allow a change of use?
Outlet for beef products is proposed on Drakes Estero
The National Park Service has been asked to prevent the buildings used by Drakes Bay Oyster Company from being disassembled. The Point Reyes Seashore Ranchers Association is requesting NPS consider retaining the buildings which include processing facilities, a small retail stand, housing and trailers, and restroom facilities. It is felt by the Association the retail outlet could be used to sell beef products such as beef jerky, the restroom and running water could be used by kayakers and visitors, and the housing could be used by ranch workers or others looking for inexpensive housing in west Marin County.
Structures in disrepair seen at high tide,
a level which will only rise with time and storms.
Are these buildings worth saving?
As seen above the buildings have not been kept in the best of shape by the current tenant. The expense of repairing and making safe any of the structures is unknown, as is who would incur the cost. Perhaps more important is the rising sea level, something which already results in the retail outlet being flooded at the higher tides, as seen above and below in pictures taken last December. 
High tide, on a calm day, in December 2013
floods the building. The public
restroom facility is seen in the background.
Water and restrooms on a rising tide - a healthy proposition?
As noted above, included in the suggestion is retaining the retail outlet and the public restroom facility and running fresh water. The latter are felt to be useful for kayakers and others who visit the site. In addition to the location's remote location is the that higher tides already flood the retail facility and, as seen above, come close to doing the same for the public restrooms. Agencies responsible for food and water safety will all need to consider whether these buildings are worth saving.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Pierce County Shoreline Master Program Update, July 21 Meeting Video Available

Update 7/30: We see what we want when we want
As noted below, Chelsea Farms spoke before Pierce County about all of the barnacles, crabs, etc. which grew on their tubes used for geoduck planting. Neglected was  the reality that those tubes are only in long enough for those species to take hold, 12 to 18 months, after which the tubes are removed. Harvesting take place 3 years later, with the effects being described as nothing more than a storm, neglecting to point out that storms do not liquefy 3' of sediments.

Tubes in place on a Chelsea geoduck farm.
Waiting for barnacles, crabs and seaweed.
Where did all those barnacles,
little crabs and seaweed go?
The moonscape left from harvesting.
"Just a storm." Really?

Note: Next meeting August 4.

July 21, Pierce County's Community Development Committee was held during which numerous amendments to the Shoreline Master Program were considered, including those regarding aquaculture. The full meeting may be seen by clicking here. Various amendments may be found by clicking here. Not all amendments were able to be acted on.

Some of the highlights included:

While Taylor Shellfish and Chelsea Farms were opposed to the amendment 8 it was passed by the committee. One of the more interesting comments regarded how the Public Trust Doctrine would be considered by the county through the review made available by a Conditional Use Permit. Testimony begins at 35:00 with Taylor Shellfish speaking at 37:36.

Public testimony for amendment 9 which would effect aquaculture begins at 76:45.

Aesthetics and water quality should not
be cause for banning aquaculture.
Taylor Shellfish
Cumulative impacts analysis is too expensive
for small farmers, therefor should not be required.

Please, don't enact things, unless
it would help the industry.
Trout Lodge
Nobody contacted us.

So much life is created - 
- at least for a while.
Comment: We see what we want when we want
Chelsea Farm's representative spoke movingly about how much life is created from the PVC tubes used in geoduck cultivation. Seaweed, barnacles, and crabs all took advantage of the PVC tubes and netting. Even greater, flocks of geese were now present to take advantage of the seaweed growing on the artificial structures. And of course, there are the "baby geoducks" taking advantage of the tubes. However, what wasn't mentioned is what happens to all that life which took advantage of the tubes and netting when those structures are stripped from the tidelands. It points out the weakness in the studies which were performed by the University of Washington. They look at a single point in time and not the ongoing transformations which occur on regular cycles.
Little  homes for little critters for a little while.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Bee-killing Imidacloprid Banned in Hawaii, Idaho, Oregon and Washington Wildlife Refuges by Fish and Wildlife Service; DOE - "Spray on"

Will Seattle's organic restaurants
react to the shellfish industry's demand
that the Department of Ecology allow
imidacloprid to be sprayed in Willapa Bay?
In one incident 50,000 bumblebees were killed
by imidacloprid in Oregon.

(from Seattle Organic Restaurants)

Use of Imidacloprid to be banned by Fish and Wildlife Service in Wildlife Refuges
Effective January 1, 2016, the Fish and Wildlife Service will no longer allow neonicotinoid pesticides, which imidacloprid is, to be used in any agricultural activity within a wildlife refuge. A press release from the Center for Biological Diversity noted the FWS is the first government agency to issue such a ban. The CBD noted:
The ban will affect nearly 9,000 acres of farmed wildlife refuge lands, limiting the toxic effects of neonicotinoids on pollinators, birds and ecosystems. The Fish and Wildlife Service has also announced that prior to the ban going into effect in 2016, refuge managers must exhaust all alternatives before allowing neonicotinoids to be used on refuges and also must analyze whether neonicotinoid use would harm species protected under the Endangered Species Act. (underline for emphasis)

Washington's Department of Ecology:
"Spray On"
Aerial spraying and hand application
in Willapa Bay will begin Saturday, July 26
Washington's Department of Ecology announces spraying of Imidacloprid to begin in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor - thank you shellfish industry
While the FWS has announced the ban, on July 25 the Department of Ecology released a statement announcing it will, instead, begin the aerial and hand application of imidacloprid in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor to "control" the native burrowing shrimp which the shellfish industry has found to be an inconvenience. Instead of using above ground growing techniques the shellfish industry has instead simply said "we can only spray chemicals."
Wouldn't you really want
to go eat something else
somewhere else?
Green sturgeon
One less native species to worry about so non-native shellfish may be grown
These native species, a primary food source for Green Sturgeon and other native species, soften sediments and make growing oysters difficult. Japanese eelgrass also finds soft sediments difficult to grow in so when the burrowing shrimp are gone sediments firm and Japanese eelgrass takes hold. This in turn creates another perceived problem for the shellfish industry which they claim requires an additional chemical application, imazamox, a separate permit process DOE is working through for the shellfish industry. All to be able to grow non-native Pacific oysters and non-native manila clams.
"What is that taste from?"
"It's the water."
(thank you for that, Olympia beer)

One more ingredient added to the "chemical soup" which gives a Willapa Bay oyster is unique "meroir" - is this really organic?
Already described as a "chemical soup" by the office of Washington's Attorney General, Willapa Bay's shellfish will now have another chemical to filter out of the water, in turn becoming part of their unique "meroir"* tasted when consumed. How the oyster connoisseurs will describe that taste is unknown. Whether Seattle's organic restaurants and outlets will react is also unknown.
*the concept of meroir recognises the existence of specific and unique properties and functions of a certain area of the sea

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Shellfish Safety: Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning Closes Carr Inlet to Harvesting of All Shellfish

Tacoma-Pierce Health Department has announced the Department of Health has closed Carr Inlet to all harvesting of shellfish due to elevated levels of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning. PSP toxins were one of the reasons China banned the import of shellfish from the West Coast. PSP toxins cannot be made safe by cooking.

Information on recreational harvesting may be found on a new Department of Health interactive map on their Shellfish Safety Information website. To be automatically notified by TPHD when a food safety or health event occurs, you may register on their web site, found by clicking here.

Recreational Harvesting Information
(interactive map image from DOH website)
(click to enlarge)
Note: Commercial and recreational harvest alerts may be different. For example, DOH recommends all shellfish harvested recreationally from June to September be cooked thoroughly in order to avoid vibriosis. Commercial harvesters must stop harvesting all together when levels or illnesses in a growing area reach pre-determined levels.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Drakes Bay Oyster Company: KWMR Reports Red Tide Halts Harvesting of Oysters in Drakes Estero

Drakes Bay Oyster Harvesting Closed Due to Red Tide

Robin Carpenter with KWMR reported on 7/23 that red tide has halted harvesting of oyster from Drakes Estero. Linda Peterson with West Marin Citizen newspaper confirmed she had heard harvesting was halted on July 14. Robin Carpenter was told by Drakes Bay Oyster Company that harvesting had stopped and not resumed. The California Department of Health confirmed the harvest closure in Drakes Estero was in effect.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Drakes Bay Oyster Company: New Underwater Video of Drakes Estero

It's time to dispel the myth that
Drakes Bay Oyster Company
has been a "good steward"
of Drakes Estero's marine environment.
Is this really good stewardship?
screenshot from Coastodian.org video

A new underwater video from the Coastodian.org continues to put in question whether Drakes Bay Oyster Company's claims to being a "good steward" of Drakes Estero, part of the Philip Burton Wilderness area, are based in fact or public relations. The 7 minute video is part of a post dated July 22. The video should leave no doubt that the "good steward" tag line is a PR firm's fantasy.

More tubes from Drakes Bay Oyster Company
on the bottom of Drakes Estero.
They don't float - out of site, out of mind.
"It's natural." Non-native oysters it grows on
in Drakes Estero aren't.
Treated lumber from racks
"They're not my racks." Kevin Lunny
How convenient.
DBOC: a “deep respect for the land and waters of the Estero ecostystem”.
The Coastodian: Just imagine what the place would look like if some company without such strong morals had been running the show…..

Tomales Bay Oyster Company and Perspective on Oyster Production (updated 7/24 - TBOC acreage available)

Update 7/24: TBOC has the acreage to grow more oysters. Employees from DBOC will be looking for work. Hatchery equipment from DBOC they use to produce oysters for planting will available to relocate. 
The company leases enough acreage in the bay to cultivate more oysters. But Tod Friend, an owner of T.B.O.C., told the Light that ocean acidification has made it virtually impossible to buy more seed. “Theoretically, we could grow all the oysters we need to supply our customers, but it’s a seed problem. We can’t get enough seed from hatcheries in the Northwest to fuel our need,” Mr. Friend said. (Point Reyes Light, 7/24/14)
The Drakes Bay Oyster Farm produces its own shellfish seed by performing remote setting on-farm. This advanced hatchery technique allows the farm to curtail the purchasing of seed (small shellfish) from producers in other waters (from DBOC web site)
The Point Reyes Light has published an article today in which TBOC notes it has additional acreage to produce more oysters. Their problem is one of sourcing seed. Less than 6 miles away (as the crow flies) are employees and equipment available to move which will increase TBOC's production.

Running a business is never easy. When public relations firms, attorneys and conservative land use groups begin to direct business strategies it becomes more difficult. It's time for the California shellfish industry to run a business, not be played as pawns in a greater game.

A 1 Acre Perspective for Tomales Bay Oyster Company
prior proper planning prevents poor performance

In the papers filed by TBOC it notes they purchase between 6,000 and 15,000 oysters per week from DBOC. For perspective, this is equivalent to what one acre of tidelands produces. In a paper discussing the use of grow-out bags for oysters (Subtidal Cultivation of the American Oyster) a low end estimate of 2,600 bags per acre will produce 585,000 oysters, or an average of 11,250 oysters per week. How many acres are lying fallow in Tomales Bay? Of course, it will take some time for oysters to grow, but then we fall back to what prior proper planning would have prevented.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Tomales Bay Oyster Company Sues over Drake Bay Oyster Company Closing

Update 7/22: A 1 Acre perspective for Tomales Bay Oyster Company - In the papers filed by TBOC it notes they purchase between 6,000 and 15,000 oysters per week from DBOC. For perspective, this is equivalent to what one acre of tidelands produces. In a paper discussing the use of grow-out bags for oysters (Subtidal Cultivation of the American Oyster) a low end estimate of 2,600 bags per acre will produce 585,000 oysters, or an average of 11,250 oysters per week. How many acres are lying fallow in Tomales Bay? Of course it will take some time for oysters to grow, but then we fall back to what prior proper planning would have prevented.
One more attorney added to the mix
Tomales Bay Oyster Company's Tod Friend and others have filed another lawsuit over Drakes Bay Oyster Company's closure. TBOC and others claim the loss of DBOC oysters will cause them harm and the Philip Burton Wilderness is less important than their financial well being. Could a little bit of planning made a difference?
TBOC owner Tod Friend
removing derelict shellfish gear
on unused tideland lease holding.
(picture from Coastodian.org)
Purchasing a business with eyes wide open
In 2009 Tod Friend purchased Tomales Bay Oyster Company from Drew Alden. At the time, the fact that Drakes Bay Oyster Company would likely not have its lease renewed in November of 2012 was a well known fact. That Tomales Bay Oyster Company may likely lose one its primary suppliers in November of 2012, was a well known fact. Knowing these facts, Mr. Friend chose to go ahead and purchase this operation, with that risk well known, giving him three years to plan for that likelihood.
Wouldn't a bit of planning helped?
(picture from Coastodian.org)
How was I to know?
Now, in July of 2014, over five years after the fact, TBOC declares their business is now at risk of losing $250,000 to $400,000 and has decided to sue the government. Five years, during which any business owner should have been planning on alternative suppliers. Or expanding their own operations. 
3,000 poles removed, thousands more to go
(picture from Coastodian.org)
What about those unused tidelands? Better late than never.
It may be TBOC did in fact know the risk was real and had been planning on an alternative. Recently, the Coastodian.org published a series of articles on the abandoned shellfish gear in Tomales Bay. Included in those articles were pieces focused on areas leased by TBOC but apparently abandoned, lying fallow. Following the articles, TBOC has now begun removing the derelict gear, most probably to put the tidelands back into production.
Do I need a permit to remove this?
(picture from Coastodian.org)
No permits needed to remove shellfish racks - I guess
Forging ahead TBOC has begun the removal of the derelict racks and gear on their leased tidelands. While the recently filed lawsuit TBOC is party to expresses concern over what role the California Coastal Commission should be playing, in this case the belief is the oyster rack removal should be of no concern to the Coastal Commission.
The price of success
Now, about that parking - or maybe not.
At some point TBOC will have their supply back to normal levels, if not above. It will be without DBOC. Business will be better, and following a typical business model, that demand will allow for higher profit margins. With those profits TBOC may choose to expand their parking and retail outlet, increasing further their profits. It may be DBOC employees would even be interested in employment. Then again, the shellfish industry doesn't always do things the way a normal business might. It's an industry attorneys love.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Vibrio Bacteria Levels Continue to Climb - Hammersley/Totten Inlets Closed to Commercial Harvesting of Oysters

Update 7/21: Vibrio levels continue to climb and expand. The Department of Health has announced that testing for Vibrio levels has closed most of Hood Canal to commercial shellfish harvesting of oysters. This is now in addition to Hammersley and Totten Inlets. Oakland Bay's level of Vibrio was just below the 10,000 mpn level and remains open to harvesting.
Washington shellfish growing areas
closed to commercial harvesting of oysters
as of July 19.
Closed to commercial shellfish harvesting of oysters
Low tides and warm temperatures = warmer water
Following low tides and warm weather Washington's Department of Health testing found Vibrio parahaemolyticus (Vp) exceeded safe levels and has closed Hammersley Inlet and Totten Inlet to commercial harvesting of oysters. Hammersley Inlet testing found levels of 110,000 mpn (most probable number). Totten Inlet testing found levels of 15,000 mpn. Last week similar levels were found in southern Hood Canal which resulted in that area also being closed. Levels above 10,000 mpn result in an automatic closure.
Bacterial blooms
Vp is a naturally occurring bacteria which oysters filter from the waters of Puget Sound and retain internally. When the waters of Puget Sound increase in temperature and tides are low during warmer summer days Vp blooms to a level oysters become unsafe to eat.
2013 Reported Cases from Atlantic States
(from CDC, April 18, 2014)
Past reported cases:
2011 - 6; 2012 - 52; 2013 - 104
(from CDC, October 21, 2013)
East Coast and West Coast Effected
In the past it was felt the bacteria was primarily a northwest shellfish problem but last year demonstrated that shellfish growing areas on the east coast now also face the same problem. Illnesses from east coast oysters increased to such a level last year that Massachusetts and Connecticut both issued recalls for oysters harvested from those states. An April 18, 2014, Center for Disease Control (CDC) paper noted:
In the United States, Vp causes an estimated 35,000 domestically acquired foodborne infections annually (1), of which most are attributable to consumption of raw or undercooked shellfish.
Learn how to minimize risk

Enjoy life, minimize risk
Life has risks in all we do. Knowing how to minimize those risks will allow you to enjoy life. Visit Washington's DOH "Illness Prevention" website for more information on shellfish safety.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Pierce County Shoreline Master Program Update Meeting: July 21, 1:30

When - Monday, July 21
Where - County-City Building, Room 1045, 930 Tacoma Ave. S, Tacoma
What - Discussion of additional amendments to Pierce County's Shoreline Master Program update.

Onwards and upwards
Following a series of meetings at which Pierce County was challenged by shoreline owners and the conservative land use group "Freedom Foundation"  who felt a "taking" was occurring through proposed shoreline regulations,  Pierce County cancelled scheduled public meetings about their Shoreline Master Program update. The County felt there were too many pressures to deal with and amendments to address them could not be developed within the proposed schedule.

July 21, 24 amendments - let's try again
 The Community Development Committee has now re-scheduled a meeting for July 21 to discuss newly proposed amendments and presumably those proposed earlier. No voting will occur but comments will be accepted. The County web site currently lists 24 amendments. Previous public meetings which had been scheduled in the evening throughout the county in early evening times, more convenient for citizens to participate in, were canceled. The current meeting is scheduled for Monday, July 21, at 1:30PM.

Aquaculture - better hurry up and get them permitted now
Of the amendments listed there are X specifically noted as being related to aquaculture. Number 23 addresses monitoring. Number 21 would incorporate all aquaculture related amendments that were approved prior to consideration of Ordinance 2013-45s. Number 10, among other things, prohibits the use of pesticides in shellfish cultivation. Number 9 expands on the requirements for cumulative impacts analysis, including when they proposal takes place within an enclosed body of water (e.g. Burley Lagoon). Number 8 extends the non-conforming discontinued use period to three years from two.

Number 22: rights of the people
Included in the amendments is one introduced by Republican Jim McCune which states:
No person shall be deprived of property without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation. 
It is unclear whether the perspective that the rights of the people should include the right to expect that the shorelines of Washington will be protected as the Shoreline Management Act provides and for which the counties are responsible.