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, January 29, 2015

Lower Dungeness River: Army Corps Releases Environmental Assessment for River Restoration for Comment

Why bother with restoring the Dungeness River
if you are only going to be putting
millions of PVC tubes and "predator" netting
in the intertidal marine habitat you are trying to improve?
[Note: This site supports this restoration proposal and
the Wild Olympics campaign, but it does not
support Taylor Shellfish's geoduck farm.]

Is this the balance the SMA is intended to ensure?
(click to enlarge)
DPR/EA Released for Comments (email: melissa.l.leslie@usace.army.mil)
The Army Corps of Engineers has released a draft Integrated Detailed Project Report and Environmental Assessment (DPR/EA) (6Mb file) for the Lower Dungeness River Ecosystem Restoration Project near Sequim. This restoration project would remove an existing Corps levee and reconnect the river to an historic floodplain and re-establish historic side channel and back channel habitat "critical for fish spawning, rearing, and refuge." Comments will be accepted until February 18. (Information on how to comment may be found by clicking here.)

Area of restoration preferred.
(click to enlarge)

Restoration of one habitat should not mean another is transformed into PVC and netting - for years on end. Recent tideland leases extend into 2050, encumbering tidelands for decades.
At the same time this project and other tribal and taxpayer funded restoration projects - which reach into the multiple millions of dollars - is occurring, Taylor Shellfish is proposing to place millions of PVC tubes, covered with netting in the delta area created by this river to grow geoduck for Chinese consumption. The ongoing cycle destroys/transforms marine habitat multiple times.

 Habitat Transformation Stage 1: >38,000 PVC/acre
are inserted and covered with "predator" netting.

Habitat Transformation Stage 2: After ~2 years, mussels
barnacles and aquatic vegetation has taken hold 
on the thousands of PVC tubes and "predator" netting. 
They are removed, leaving the monolithic population 
of geoduck in its place, sometimes covered
for another year with "predator" netting.

Habitat Transformation Stage 3: Harvest
Sediments to 3' in depth are liquefied
to remove the geoduck, leaving 
a barren moonscape in its path.

Months later, the PVC and "predator" netting return,
to begin the habitat transformation cycles again.
Restoration and protection of the Olympic Peninsula's watersheds and resources does not end at the high tide line.
Taylor Shellfish and Clallam County planners believing there is nothing wrong in spending multiple millions of dollars to restore the lower Dungeness River so millions of PVC pipes and netting may cover an area in the intertidal tidelands stretches reason. Taylor Shellfish supporting the expansion of wilderness areas and wild/scenic rivers through the Wild Olympics campaign "...so that shellfish companies can continue to grow..." (Bill Taylor on why he supports the Wild Olympics) should not be used as a veil to hide the reality of how geoduck farming is transforming the intertidal habitat areas of Puget Sound.
Joan Thomas, 1931-2011
Helped negotiate and pass the SMA.
"I do not read the original intent or the original guidelines
[of the SMA] to promote the [shellfish] industry
as we know it today." Joan Thomas, 1991
The Shoreline Management Act and shellfish aquaculture are no longer in-synch.
When the Shoreline Management Act was passed aquaculture was perceived as benign. In 1991 one of its original authors, Joan Thomas, recognized the transformation which had occurred in the industry. It has continued to evolve into the very thing which the SMA is in place to protect part of Puget Sound from: the fragmentation and fracturing of the intertidal area. Studies to date have looked at small and discrete farms which in no way compare to the current proposals nor methods used. That Taylor Shellfish sees nothing wrong with an operation of this type, of this size, and in this location only shows what it has evolved into.

Monday, January 19, 2015

January 28: Fudge Point State Park Public Hearing - Help create a marine park for everyone.

Get involved in what future generations have access to.
Wednesday, January 28
6:30 to 8:30 p.m
Harstine Community Hall
3371 E. Harstine Island Rd. N., Harstine Island
Submit Comments by Clicking Here (reference "Fudge Point State Park")
Fudge Point State Park: Providing 
access to Puget Sound's shorelines for everyone.
One of the last undeveloped pieces of shoreline
and upland areas available for the public to enjoy.*

Washington State Parks has scheduled a public meeting on Harstine Island to discuss the future development of Fudge Point State Park. A series of land acquisitions has created what can become one of the greatest state parks in Washington, providing access to the uplands and shorelines of Puget Sound for everyone. Anyone who believes access to south Puget Sound should be an experience made available to everyone should become involved.

Looking east to Mount Ranier and north
from the shoreline of Fudge Point State Park.

Included within Fudge Point State Park are over 3,200 feet of Puget Sound's shoreline, one of the last shorelines in south Puget Sound of this size which the public will have access to. The views from the shoreline are spectacular, with Mt. Ranier to the east and the Olympics to the north. A fresh water outflow from the upland area has created both a marsh and a delta area over which the tide ebbs and flows, exposing a diversity of life unique to south Puget Sound, including a working geoduck farm.

A freshwater outflow from the upland area.
As proposed, the shoreline area would remain undeveloped in order to retain the sensitive ecological functions of the wetland marsh area and intertidal area. Both are areas where fresh and salt water mix, resulting in a unique habitat supporting both upland, fresh and salt water species. It is one of the few such areas which remains undeveloped and able to be experienced by the public.
Fudge Point State Park: Current
and future ownership.
Additional information about Fudge Point State Park may be found by clicking here. Also found on are comments which have already been submitted which focus primarily on infrastructure concerns (roads and the bridge to Harstine Island) and shellfish companies being worried about poaching on tidelands adjacent to the state park owned lands. The latter has had proposals for exchanging privately owned tidelands for state owned tidelands elsewhere, an easy resolution to the concern. Infrastructure concerns are met by increased revenues generated by visitors which both help to increase the economic activity of the local economy, and perhaps more importantly, to help diversify the economic drivers within the local economy, something Mason County would be helped by. Some of the remaining comments express a desire to retain the natural character of the shoreline so future generations are able to experience an undeveloped stretch of shoreline habitat, and a desire retain the currently rural environment experienced by the local residents. Finally, the types of overnight camping facilities are also commented on.
Take the opportunity to help create what can become one of the great shoreline experiences for future generations. Get involved. Many others are.

For additional  questions contact:
Michael Hankinson, Parks Planner
Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission
PO Box 42650, Olympia, WA 98504-2650
Phone (360) 902-8671 FAX (360) 586-0207
email: michael.hankinson@parks.wa.gov

*Currently, Taylor Shellfish has a geoduck farm in the tideland area below mean low tide. It is exposed rarely and, as Taylor Shellfish has pointed out many times, geoduck farming is compatible with the public's use of tidelands. It is hoped that the state and Taylor Shellfish will ultimately resolve whatever perceived conflict there may be through a 1031 exchange with tidelands elsewhere.

Fudge Point, June 2013, looking north.
Tidelands from mean low tide to extreme low tide
are owned by Taylor Shellfish. Higher tidelands
are owned by Washington State Parks.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Willapa Bay: Taylor Shellfish to increase oyster production, happy with chemical applications

Ocean acidification not so bad after all?

The Coast River Business Journal writes that Taylor Shellfish will be increasing its oyster production in Willapa Bay by 40%, equal to roughly 4 million oysters. Apparently ocean acidification isn't too large of a problem now.

Why worry about burrowing shrimp
and Japanese eelgrass
if you can grow oysters this way?

Floats and oyster bags "create" an
oyster "unique" to Willapa Bay.
A Pacific oyster is a Pacific oyster, cupped or not
In the article it is noted that Taylor Shellfish will be expanding their oyster lines from 1,000 to 1,400. Each oyster line has 39 grow out bags with a float attached, each containing roughly 250 oysters at harvest. Through the lifting and falling, the edges of the shells of the non-native Pacific oysters' are broken off, resulting in a thicker shell with a more cup-like shape. This alteration has allowed Taylor to take the liberty of branding it as a "Shigoku" and selling it for $1.25 versus .85 for the Pacific oyster in its "normal" shell.

The old oyster in a new shell 
needs a new box.
Marketing 101: Differentiation

A new shell in a pretty box and a hint of Jerusalem artichoke
The end result of Taylor's marketing department is a Pacific oyster in a smaller shell in a new box. While still the same non-native Pacific oyster from Japan, the ability of the tumbler process to disfigure the shell has created a different enough looking oyster that it is described by Rowan Jacobsen (oyster marketing expert) as, "A small, dense, cornucopia of an oyster. A light, clean taste of cucumber and salt, with a finish of water chestnut and Jerusalem artichoke." It may be something else Mr. Jacobsen is tasting.

"It's the water."
Unfortunately, it's not from artesian wells
but from a "chemical soup."
Spraying chemicals into Willapa Bay creates a "chemical soup"
Taking a cue from the now defunct Olympia Brewery, the marketing department of Taylor Shellfish has attempted to create an oyster with a unique taste based on its "merroir" (location where it is grown, with the waters and oyster creating something unique, like a wine). Unfortunately, in the case of Willapa Bay, Washington state's Office of the Attorney General has described Willapa Bay as a "chemical soup", primarily the result of the application of a variety of chemicals by the shellfish industry. These chemicals have been used to control the native burrowing shrimp and the Japanese eelgrass, both considered by wildlife experts to be important food sources for both migrating birds and Green Sturgeon.
Would spraying chemicals into Willapa Bay
be needed if long line tumbling is used by all?
The short irony of the long line tumbler
What is ironic about the article quoting Bill Taylor and the use of longlines and tumblers is that this method of growing oysters would end up being a means to avoid the application of chemicals to Willapa Bay. The Japanese eelgrass and burrowing shrimp are described by the industry as being a problem when oysters are grown on the bottom. As Mr. Taylor notes, they sink and become smothered. If that's the case, why not simply do what he is doing and grow them above the sediments? Perhaps the unique taste of Taylor's Willapa Bay oysters would be even better, being grown in something closer to the artesian springs of Olympia Beer. Or maybe that "taste of cucumber and salt, with a finish of water chestnut and Jerusalem artichoke" is from something being added to the water.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Reminder: January 10, Sequim, forum on Taylor Shellfish's proposed 30 acre geoduck farm

What's wrong with this picture?
Nothing if you're Taylor Shellfish.
Everything if you care about
Puget Sound's critical marine habitat.

An informational meeting will be held at the Dungeness Schoolhouse, 2781 Towne Road, Sequim, from 2-4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 10, to discuss implications of Shelton-based Taylor Shellfish Farms’ 30-acre geoduck operation proposal. Read more in the Sequim Gazette.

Should "improved water quality" mean 
this is what can happen in the marine sediments?
Taylor Shellfish thinks so.
(from the Sequim Gazette)

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Monterey Bay Aquarium Webinar on Geoducks Happening Now

January 8, 3:30
Monterey Bay Aquarium webinar on geoducks happening now (1/8, 3:30).
Dial 1-877-668-4493 to connect. Meeting ID number is: 629 152 989
https://montereybayaq.webex.com/  (click on SFW Geoduck Webinar)

Friday, January 2, 2015

Dungeness Bay Geoduck Farm Informational Meeting, January 10, 2-4 PM, Dungeness Schoolhouse

"Improved water quality" should not give the shellfish
industry a free pass to transform the intertidal
marine habitat area for the benefit of
the Chinese elite, themselves
and those they choose to donate money to.
Land trust organizations and politicians
receiving donations from the overwhelming profits
of geoduck sold to the Chinese should not
turn away from the reality that
 Puget Sound's intertidal areas
are being transformed...
...to this:
"Good for the economy" 
"Good for donations"
is a bad combination for
Puget Sound's future.
Importance: High
An informational meeting will be held at the Dungeness Schoolhouse, 2nd Floor, Saturday, January 10, 2015,  2-4 PM to discuss implications of Shelton WA based TAYLOR SHELLFISH FARMS proposal to site a 30 acre geoduck operation on tidelands by the mouth of the Dungeness River and close to the publicly owned WA State Department of Fish and Wildlife’s 3 Crabs wetland restoration project and the US Fish and Wildlife Dungeness Refuge Graveyard Spit protected for breeding birds.Taylor signed a multi-year lease with Bellevue WA Dungeness Farms tidelands, owners of the gun club at the mouth of the Dungeness River.  Taylor’s plan is to raise thousands of geoducks for commercial export to Asia.  Each acre of tidelands requires thousands of plastic tubes for seeding geoducks and acres of netting. 
Citizens from areas of Puget Sound having experience with shellfish operations on neighborhood tidelands will describe the consequences of industrialized shellfish operations on WA State beaches and elsewhere.
Guest presenters and  panelists include Laura Hendricks:  Coalition To Save Puget Sound, Trina Bayard Ph.D, Director, Bird Conservation for Washington Audubon, Retired University of Oregon Law Professor Maradel Gale now with Bainbridge Alliance For Puget Sound and a Bainbridge Beach naturalist, and marine habitat specialist consultant Jim Brennan,MSc, formerly with the University of WA Sea Grant Program and the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation Governing Board, and past President of Pacific Estuarine Research Society.
Large scale aquaculture plantations — shellfish and fin fish lots -- are proposed in the Clallam County Shoreline Master Plan for sitings throughout County shorelines and waters.  That plan can be seen on <http://www.clallam.net/LandUse/smp.html> .   What does this large scale industry mean for our natural resources?  What does this mean for wildlife?  What does this mean for home values?  What does this mean for public recreation?  Who profits?  Who loses?  These questions will be addressed at the January 10 forum.
The Dungeness Schoolhouse Is located at 2781 Towne Road, Sequim WA

Monday, December 22, 2014

Montery Bay Aquarium Drops Ratings on Geoduck, Calls for Comments on Rating System

Monterey Bay Aquarium Used as a Tool by the Geoduck Industry in Permitting
After Monterey Bay Aquarium's "green" listing of geoduck was used as "proof" in a permitting process that PVC, netting, and associated CO2 emissions from vessels and overnight air freighting geoduck to China was deserving of a "green" rating for geoduck, the Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat sent an email of concern (click here to read that email). As a result of that letter, Monterey Bay Aquarium dropped important ratings on gedouck farming and called for comments on revising its seafood rating system which puts geoduck farming in the "green" category (see below for email addresses and comment link). Those comments are due by December 27.

Cumulative Impacts: Drops "Data" from Green to Yellow With favorable data provided by the geoduck industry, the Monterey Bay Aquarium's "Seafood Watch" program rated geoduck raised in Puget Sound as "green." This rating, used in the permitting process to "prove" that geoduck farming has minimal impact on Puget Sound's marine habitat was challenged by the Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat. That response resulted in a number of categories being downgraded, including the most critical tool used for decision making, "Data", which was dropped from "green" to "yellow" due to a lack of understanding on cumulative impacts from the habitat transformation which is occurring.

Effluent Dropped from 10 to 8
As a result of the continued loss of PVC tubing and netting from geoduck farms this rating was dropped 20%. In addition, they are now considering a separate rating category which is focused on the use and loss of plastics in the marine environment by the shellfish industry.

Habitat Impacts Not Dropped
Surprisingly, the habitat rating was not dropped. How a process which first destroys an original marine habitat area by clearing and placement of PVC tubes and netting in it, then destroys that artificial habitat when it is removed 2 years later, then destroys the habitat at harvesting, all to begin again with new PVC tubes placed in the already altered marine habitat are considered "moderate" is difficult to understand.

Wildlife Mortalities Rating Dropped
While the habitat impact category did not drop, it was recognized that the process of cleaning the beach for PVC does create mortality of intertidal species. Its not being dropped further to recognize the "mortality" of the species which have taken hold on the PVC and netting structures apparently did not happen.

Get Involved: Rating System is Being Revised
To better help the Monterey Bay Aquarium understand the level of impacts which are occurring to Puget Sound's intertidal and subtidal areas comments on their current rating system will be accepted through December 27. Their lengthy comment form is found here:
Monterey Bay Aquarium Email Contacts: Tell them Geoduck for China is not deserving of a "green" rating
 Alternatively you may email Brian Albaum <balbaum@mbayaq.org> and associates at Monterey Bay Aquarium, Santi Roberts <SRoberts@mbayaq.org>, Lisa Tucker <ltucker@mbayaq.org>, Ken Peterson <KPeterson@mbayaq.org> to express how you see geoduck farming impacting Puget Sound's marine habitat areas and beyond. Why? Beyond the aesthetics, PVC placed in the marine ecosystem, continually escaping from farms, is not healthy. That "structure", being ripped out after 2 years with all species associated with it, is not beneficial. Clearing nets of aquatic vegetation left to drift, dry and decay, is not beneficial. Unnaturally high density planting of geoduck displaces native species, lowering the diversity of native species which exists. CO2 emissions from the creation of PVC, marine vessels used, pumps used in harvesting, and overnight air freighting to China - the source of most CO2 emissions impacting the Pacific Ocean - benefits nobody.

Get involved 
Get involved. The shellfish industry is and they know what to create and who to present it to in order to get favorable ratings for one of the most transformative activities occurring in Puget Sound's intertidal area.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Taylor Shellfish Mussel Farm Monitoring: Thurston County Passes Responsibility to DNR

Where is Thurston County lacking expertise?
Is this a good hand?
Thurston County's not sure, folds, 
and will let DNR play its hand.

Cumulative impacts analysis not required but you will have to monitor specific parameters (Shorelines Hearings Board reversal of permit denial for Taylor Shellfish 58 raft mussel farm)
In June of 2013 the Shorelines Hearings Board reversed Thurston County's denial of a Shoreline Substantial Development Permit for a 58 raft mussel farm to be operated by Taylor Shellfish. The county's hearing examiner had denied that permit application based on a lack of information, thereby requiring a cumulative impacts analysis.

Taylor Shellfish appealed that decision to the Shorelines Hearings Board which reversed the denial, approving the SSDP but adding a condition which required the development of a plan to monitor very specific items (e.g., dissolved oxygen and mussel fall-off below the rafts) and what Taylor Shellfish would be required to do if problems were found (see below for the specific condition, or click here for the decision which has Condition 2 on pages 33/34).

Taylor Shellfish agrees they will monitor, what they want to monitor and when
Taylor Shellfish took issue with what it was supposed to monitor and provided alternatives which it felt better represented impacts (see Taylor's draft alternative here). The County and Taylor Shellfish were unable to come to terms with the differences between what the SHB had in its condition and what Taylor Shellfish felt was more appropriate, resulting in a letter to the SHB stating future negotiations would be "fruitless" (see letter here).

Those threats of litigation by Taylor Shellfish cause Thurston County to admit they do not have the expertise, believing DNR does
After that letter and the threat of further litigation the County chose instead to turn over the monitoring to the Department of Natural Resources. It would be made part of the lease between Taylor Shellfish and DNR, something none of the other mussel farms Taylor Shellfish has in waters leased from DNR are required to do and which in large part caused the hearing examiner to originally deny the permit and require a cumulative impacts analysis.

Does DNR have a better hand
to play against Taylor Shellfish?
Thurston County thinks so.

Thurston County relies on a draft Aquatic Lands Habitat Conservation Plan
The original "Condition 2" would be replaced in its entirety by one paragraph, seen below. The monitoring plan would be based on undefined "conservation measures" and  undefined monitoring requirements developed by DNR. Thurston County felt a draft of the Aquatic Lands Habitat Conservation Plan they reviewed was comforting enough to turn all over to DNR. This draft is something the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services has just finished accepting comments on, December 4 (click here for the Public Notice from FWS). Why Thurston County felt something currently in its draft stage could be used as a framework by an agency already (DNR) dependent on revenues from similar current leases which do not require monitoring is somewhat of a mystery.

Expertise lacking - in what? Creating a monitoring plan, or pushing back on Taylor Shellfish being unwilling to monitor their mussel farm as the SHB required it to do?
In announcing the agreement, Thurston County stated they lacked the expertise to develop and monitor a plan which would ensure the waters of Thurston County are not adversely impacted by aquaculture. Nobody expects the county to have the expertise in everything. But in this case, to simply give up and replace a condition from the SHB which required specific parameters to be measured and replace that condition with a single vague paragraph, hoping a draft Habitat Conservation Plan would result in an equivalent plan, suggests expertise is lacking in other areas. It also puts in question whether they should be issuing SSDP permits at all.

One paragraph replacement, followed by the original SHB condition

Newer and better?
2. An additional condition shall be added to the approved SSDP as follows:

Prior to operation of the NTI Farm, the permittee shall submit to Thurston County Resource Stewardship Department (TCRSD) a copy of (1) conservation measures, and (2) monitoring requirements approved by Department of Natural Resources in relation to permittee’s lease application for use of state-owned aquatic lands, Authorization Number: 20-013608. The conservation measures, and monitoring requirements shall be incorporated into and attached to the permit. All reports submitted to DNR as a result of the approved conservation measures and monitoring requirements shall also be sent to TCRSD within 10 days of completion.

Original Shorelines Hearings Board Monitoring Condition
2. An additional condition shall be added to the approved SSDP as follows:

Prior to operation of the NTI Farm, the permittee shall submit to Thurston County for approval a monitoring plan consistent with the Taylor Shellfish Farms Environmental Code of Practice (which needs to be incorporated into and attached to the permit issuance). The plan, at a minimum, shall include:

A. Annual benthic sampling under the mussel farm rafts to determine whether any impacts to the benthic flora and fauna in excess of those anticipated in the EIS have occurred.

B. Annual vertical profiles of the water column adjacent to mussel farms to measure potential changes in dissolved oxygen concentrations for an extended period in excess of those anticipated in the EIS.

C. Provisions for the periodic inspection and removal of mussel fall-offs and all unnatural and non-biodegradable materials that accidently fall from rafts and work areas onto the seafloor, as well as periodic inspection and immediate removal of any Beggiatoa that forms around any of the mussel rafts.

D. The plan shall also include specific measures designed to remediate unanticipated impacts to the benthic community identified through the implementation of the monitoring plan.
E. Monitoring shall include surveys that measure at a minimum the following parameters: sulfides, REDOX potential, total volatile solids, sediment grain size, presence or absence of gas bubbles, Beggiatoa, pseudofeces, feces, farm litter, and benthic and infaunal biotic samples.

F. The monitoring plan shall address what actions TSF will be required to take to minimize risks to aquatic life and habitat in excess of those anticipated in the EIS.
All required monitoring shall be conducted by TSF or its consultants consistently with accepted scientific standards and at a scientifically appropriate number of sites to be determined in the approved monitoring plan that are located directly underneath, adjacent to NTI Farms, and at least 1 km away from the actual NTI site.

TSF shall provide the results from the annual monitoring and surveys to Thurston County Resource Stewardship Department (TCRSD) within 10 days of completion. Thurston County shall review the information, and if it determines that the aquatic habitat of Totten Inlet may be at substantial risk of adverse impacts on the benthic community in the vicinity of the mussel farm or with respect to changes in dissolved oxygen concentrations in excess of those anticipated in the EIS, based on the surveys or other reports and analysis, Thurston County may impose additional conditions on the operation of the NTI Farm. If the County determines that the annual reports indicate no adverse impacts with respect to the monitored parameters and conditions for five or more consecutive monitoring years, it may allow TSF to modify the plan to allow for monitoring once every five years, rather than annually.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Vibriosis from Oysters Results in Lawsuit - Economic Impact to Growers Likely to be Significant

A lawsuit has been filed by a man who contracted vibriosis from raw oysters containing elevated levels of the naturally occurring bacterium, Vibrio parahaemolyticus. A shellfish farmer, distributor, and restaurant were all named in the suit.

The suit claims the plaintiff "...suffered septic shock, multi-organ failure and the need for prolonged critical care, according to the lawsuit, resulting in physical and emotional pain, an inability to engage in normal activities, substantial medical expenses, significant economic loss and permanent disability and disfigurement." It also claims his wife "...suffered extreme distress, fear, anxiety and uncertainty watching her husband fall from perfect health to a month-long struggle for survival..."

In part, as a result of this illness in 2011, and 12 others who also contracted the disease, tighter regulations on how to handle oysters were created in 2012. That year 27 contracted the disease, followed in 2013 with 58 contracting the disease.

While this has occurred in Massachusetts, over the years, shellfish grown in Washington have been a bigger problem and source of vibriosis. As is now happening in Massachusetts, each year in the summer it is guaranteed people will begin to contract vibriosis from oysters harvested from Washington. Despite knowing this, after almost a decade of trying to control the outbreaks and failing, Washington's Department of Health continues to simply wait until cases of vibriosis are confirmed before closing growing areas. By that time oysters with elevated levels of the naturally occurring bacteria have entered into the distribution chain and are spread throughout the United States, resulting in what the Los Angeles County Department of Health called at one time a "multistate epidemic of Vibrio parahaemolyticus linked to contaminated oysters from Washington state."

What should be of bigger concern to the Department of Health, however, is that the more virulent strain of Vibrio, Vibrio vulnificus, has recently been found in Washington oysters. Originally limited to the Gulf Coast's warm waters, this bacteria is far more deadly. Its ability to enter the bloodstream through the stomach walls and intestines places it in the blood stream where it in turn is carried throughout the body. The toxins it creates can result in open wounds, causing it to sometimes be called a "flesh eating" bacteria. Of those who contract vibriosis from this strain, 50% die. Warming water temperatures will only increase the population of this bacteria, now naturally occurring in Puget Sound.

The Department of Health is responsible for ensuring food from Washington is safe to eat. Given the consistent pattern of outbreaks from oysters harvested from Puget Sound, it is time for them to become more proactive, and less concerned about the economic impact to shellfish growers. Those growers may find the economic impact from lawsuits will be far more significant than a few extra hours taken during the harvest/shipping process.


Monday, December 15, 2014

Thurston County Board and Shorelines Hearings Board "Concerned" About Impacts of Geoduck Farming - What does it take?

Comments are due Tuesday, December 15th by 4 PM on Taylor Shellfish's proposal to transform Dickenson Cove's critical intertidal habitat into another geoduck farm for the Chinese. Tell Thurston County it's time to stop being "concerned" and require a cumulative impacts analysis.
Comments to: Scott McCormick, Associate Planner mccorms@co.thurston.wa.us
May 5, 2013 (Google Earth)

How much does Puget Sound's intertidal habitat need to be transformed before agencies recognize it's time to look at cumulative impacts?

Just over 1 year ago the Shorelines Hearings Board denied an appeal of permits for geoduck farms having been granted by Thurston County. Two of those geoduck farms (Taylor Shellfish's Lockhart proposal and Arcadia Point Seafood's Thiesen proposal) were within 1,700 feet of those proposed in Dickenson Cove. Those farms were part of a shoreline becoming transformed by geoduck farming, part of the larger south Puget Sound intertidal area being planted with PVC pipes and netting to grow geoduck for the Chinese. Since then, in south Puget Sound, proposals of 25+ acres in Burley Lagoon (Taylor Shellfish), 20+ acres adjacent to McMicken Island State Park (Seattle Shellfish), 11 acres north of Herron Island (Taylor/Seattle Shellfish), and numerous smaller farms, including those in Dickenson Cove have occurred. In addition, Taylor Shellfish and Thurston County may be near an agreement of monitoring for a mussel farm, producing an estimated 1 million pounds of mussel every 18 months. Taylor Shellfish also sees nothing wrong with a 30 acre proposal adjacent to Dungeness Wildlife Refuge, north of Sequim.

It was a "close call" and everyone's "concerned"

October 11, 2013, the Shorelines Hearings Board issued a decision on an appeal of four geoduck farm permits in Thurston County having been issued. That decision stated:
On balance, it is a very close call whether a cumulative impacts analysis is warranted prior to approval of these four SSDPs. The County apparently reached the same conclusion, because, while not requiring a pre-approval cumulative impacts analysis, it included a special condition on all four of these applications pertaining to the potential for cumulative impacts. (p. 41)
March 26, 2013, after hearing an appeal of one of those permits having been granted, from the Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat, and in denying that appeal, Thurston County Commissioners wrote:
"The Board shares many of the Coalition's concerns...about the impacts of geoduck aquaculture on the shorelines of Thurston County. The Board is also concerned about the existing and continued growth of this aquaculture, given that the science demonstrating the long term effects of this practice on the shoreline ecology is relatively new. The Board is further concerned about the carrying capacity of our shorelines to absorb the cumulative impacts of existing unpermitted geoduck farms, the newly permitted geoduck farms, and the anticipated applications for more geoduck farms in Thurston County." (Arcadia Point Seafood/Thiesen farm, Project 2010100420, p. 1)
 January 10, 2013, the Thurston County hearing examiner wrote in her decision, granting the permits for 4 geoduck farms (two being ~1,800 feet east of Dickenson Cove):
"...because many citizens of Thurston County and Resource Stewardship Staff are concerned about any potential long term adverse effects to Henderson Inlet, the recommended condition that would require review of the SSDP in seven years or prior to replanting is adopted." (Arcadia Point Seafood/Thiesen farm, p.39)

 It's time to stop being "concerned" and begin acting, for the benefit of everyone, not just geoduck growers. The Shoreline Management Act requires it.