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 and with limited public input. It is exactly what the Shoreline Management Act was intended to prevent.

Get involved and contact your elected officials to let them you do not support aquaculture's industrial transformation of Puget Sound's tidelands.

Governor Inslee: https://fortress.wa.gov/es/governor/
Legislative and Congressional contacts:
http://app.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/

Additional information
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/protectourshore
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ProtectOurShoreline



Friday, April 21, 2017

Reminder: May 21 - Industrial Aquaculture's Impact on Puget Sound Ecosystems

(Reposted from April 2)

The Association of Bainbridge Communities'
Annual Environmental Conference
(Note: The conference is free. However, due
to space limitations, registration is required.)

When: May 21, 12:30 pm to 5:30 pm
Where: 4450 Blakely Ave NE, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110
Registration: [click here] (Note: Space is limited so registration is required).

This may be good for a few corporations
and the very well off consumers in China,
but not for Puget Sound. Find out why.

The Association of Bainbridge Communities' annual Environmental Conference will cover the impacts to Puget Sound from industrial aquaculture. From the announcement:
"Speakers for this regional conference will cover ecosystem impacts, science and policy of aquaculture, legal aspects of the industry, food safety and health issues, problems with Atlantic salmon netpens, and experiences of neighbors living with this industry on their shorelines."
Agenda:
12:30 pm - Registration/Exhibits at IslandWood Welcome Center
1:00 pm - Introduction to Conference
1:10 pm - Overview of Impacts of Industrial Aquaculture
1:30 pm - Dispelling the Myths of Aquaculture
2:05 pm - Legal Aspects including Shellfish Initiative
2:35 pm - Regulatory Gaps in Permitting
3:00 pm - BREAK to visit exhibits
3:20 pm - Specific Aquaculture Topics: Atlantic Salmon Feedlots and Spraying and Health Issues
4:20 pm - Panel of Puget Sound Homeowners impacted by Industrial Aquaculture
5:20 pm - Next Steps: getting involved
5:30 pm - Adjournment

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Threat to Humboldt Bay Eelgrass: Corps of Engineers Accepts Comments Through April 20



Comments due April 20 (see below for details)
[Thank you to Richard James and The Coastodian for this reminder.]

Get involved: Humboldt Bay's eelgrass beds are irreplaceable and the species dependent on them do not have an alternative location. A permit for Coast Seafood's proposed expansion into this critical marine habitat should not be approved by the Corps of Engineers. You can make a difference, but you have to engage.
[Note: A separate permit approved by the Humboldt Bay Harbor District is being challenged in court by the California Audubon and the California Waterfowl Association, represented by attorneys from Earthjustice. See April 3 post for details, or click here for case information.]


Above and below,
Humboldt Bay is critical 
marine habitat.
for more information.)

Send comments to L. Kasey Sirkin of the Army Corps at: l.k.sirkin@usace.army.mil
Important:  All comments should reference the PN file number and be submitted by the Response Required Date on the PN. Public Notice # is 2002-26912N. [Note: Comments should be directed to environmental impacts from expanded oyster cultivation in eelgrass.]

See Public Notice 2002-26912N here [Note: The comment period has been extended to April 20]:
http://www.spn.usace.army.mil/Portals/68/docs/regulatory/publicnotices/2017/SPN-2002-269120.pdf
See project description here:
http://www.spn.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/Public-Notices/Article/1104259/2002-26912n-coast-seafoods-company-humboldt-bay-shellfish-aquaculture-permit-re/

Coast Seafood's existing
and proposed expansion
into Humboldt Bay eelgrass beds.
A bad idea.

Richard James of The Coastodian reminds people who wish to stop the expansion by Coast Seafoods into the critical eelgrass beds of Humbold Bay the Corps of Engineers will accept comments through April 20. [click here to read Mr. James' post]

Comment letter from California Audubon/EarthJustice/Oceana - September 16, 2016:
http://coastodian.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Audubon-EJ-Oceana-Coast-RDEIR-comments_9-16-16.pdf
the Project and its impacts remain enormous. The Project encompasses 622 acres of eelgrass and other sensitive tideland habitats, in addition to Coast‘s existing 300 acre footprint of operations, much of which also occupies eelgrass habitat. 
the best available information indicates that the proposed Project would result in a loss of eelgrass density on the order of 89-92 percent in the existing footprint (2.5-ft longline spacing) and of 45-67 percent in the expansion areas (10- ft. longline spacing).
analysis of the Project‘s effects on eelgrass is fundamentally flawed, and the conclusions based on that analysis are wrong

Comment letter from the National Marine Fisheries Services:
http://coastodian.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/20160912_Cmmt-Ltr_Coast-Seafoods_RDEIR.pdf
the analysis does not consider the current operations despite ongoing impacts to eelgrass from existing culture. [current operations cover 290+ acres]
does not adequately address effects to federally listed species (green sturgeon, Chinook salmon, coho salmon, and steelhead) and their designated critical habitat and does not incorporate information provided by NMFS
Comment letter from the Corps:
http://coastodian.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/ACOE_coast-letter_final.pdf
the Corps cannot agree with the determination that aquaculture longline operations set apart at 10-ft spacing will have a neutral/beneficial effect on eelgrass habitat.
it appears that many of the proposed conservation and mitigation measures do not address the potential impacts that they are intended to be addressing.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Norovirus in Shellfish from Puget Sound and British Columbia - A Wintertime Problem for Shellfish

It's no longer summer time oysters 
industry and consumers 
need to worry about.

A business model is becoming ill.
The recent outbreak of illnesses traced to Norovirus contracted from the consumption of raw oysters harvested from Puget Sound and British Columbia is presenting new and major problems for the northwest shellfish industry. It has created a year-round safety question about oysters and shellfish safety harvested from the northwest, put in question the export market, seen how the east coast shellfish growers are stepping in with safe native shellfish, and created increased risk to a business model.

Summertime Vibriosis from Puget Sound oysters
In the past, the naturally occurring bacterium Vibrio parahaemolyticus increased dramatically during the warm summer months and resulted in the contraction of vibriosis from raw oysters harvested from Puget Sound. Over the past decade, immense effort has gone into attempts to control the outbreaks. While somewhat successful, vibriosis is still being contracted from Puget Sound oysters harvested in the summer months. To make matters more of a challenge, warming temperatures increase the probability of the more virulent bacterium Vibrio vulnificus, currently found in Gulf Coast grown oysters, becoming established in Puget Sound (DOH reported it 2013 Vv having been found in Washington grown shellfish - click here for paper).

Wintertime Norovirus in Puget Sound and British Columbia oysters, and nobody knows why
A March 31 press release from King County has said the outbreak of illnesses contracted by hundreds from eating raw oysters has nothing to do with their failed treatment plant. They point out the oysters contaminated with norovirus have come from growing areas as far south as Olympia, WA, to British Columbia in the north and that illnesses began far before, stating in the press release:
"The implicated oysters [for illnesses contracted in King County] come from all over the Puget Sound – from down near Olympia to all the way up in Bellingham/Samish Bay." 

A March 22 article in The Globe and Mail quotes the BC Shellfish Growers Association as saying, "...the longer the outbreak continues the more devastating it is for the industry." The article goes on further to note BCSGA executive director Darlene Winterburn:
She said the cause of the norovirus has yet to be determined and government officials and scientists are examining a range of possibilities, including a sewage leak or perhaps an unusually cold winter that also meant less sunlight, which affected the oysters’ ability to filter toxins.
More than oysters at risk - geoduck from Hammersley Inlet 
It is not only contaminated oysters shellfish growers are concerned about. China consumes almost 90 percent of the geoduck clams harvested in these same waters. Like oysters, they too filter the water and retain whatever may happen to be in that water. In south Puget Sound, Hammersley Inlet contains one of Taylor Shellfish's largest geoduck operations. Beginning in mid-March, shellfish growing areas of Hammersley Inlet began to be closed by the Department of Health, who expanded those areas closed in the first week of April, moving west towards Taylor's geoduck operation. Of concern to growers is China and Hong Kong do not hesitate banning imports of tainted shellfish, as noted in August of 2015 when this occurred:
Hong Kong has decided to ban the import and sale of all raw oysters from British Columbia, Canada, after the province announced that a batch had been contaminated with bacteria.
Opportunities seen by East Coast Shellfish Growers: Restaurants in Vancouver "...carrying east coast oysters not subject to the same contamination scare." (Vancouver Sun, March 22)
Unlike the tainted shellfish found in the northwest waters, the East Coast shellfish growers believe their product to be a safe alternative with restaurants in Vancouver already describing their east coast oysters as being "..not subject to the same contamination scare." CBCNews noted on April 5, as a result of the norovirus illnesses from British Columbia (and presumably Puget Sound), the northeast shellfish operators in the Maritimes (Canada's eastern provinces) were  "...struggling to keep up with demand." An interview with one of the northeast growers speaks about the BC growers problem and the difference between the native oysters they provide versus the non-native Pacific Oysters grown in BC.

Expansion at risk of becoming ill?
Unable to determine the source of the Norovirus which has tainted oysters from the northwest has put in question the expansion so desired by this industry. Financing is at risk when over 300 people become ill from oysters over a large geographic area and nobody knows what the source is. Should China ban shellfish from the northwest because of bacteria or virus, as they have done before, a revenue stream will come to a halt. That increased risk is an illness the industry should be concerned about.

Monday, April 3, 2017

NGO's Sue over Coast Seafood's Plans to Expand into Humboldt Bay Eelgrass Beds

Aquaculture and Eelgrass Are not Compatible
Picture from 2015 clearly shows eelgrass beds stopping
where oyster cultivation begins.

Attorneys for Earthjustice have filed a Writ of Mandate for the California Audubon and California Waterfowl Association in order to stop Coast Seafood's (Pacific Seafood Group) planned expansion into Humboldt Bay eelgrass beds. Filed by Earthjustice against the Humboldt Bay Harbor District, in the California Superior Court in Humboldt County, the papers claim the environmental impact studies used to base the decision off of are flawed (see Final EIR here). Trent Orr, staff attorney with Earthjustice states:
“In its environmental review and approval of the Coast Seafoods expansion, the Humboldt Bay Harbor District ignored solid scientific data and extensive comments from biologists on the severe impacts this proposal would have on Humboldt Bay’s eelgrass beds and the birds, fish, and other wildlife whose survival depends upon them”
 In describing the critical significance of Humboldt Bay and its eelgrass beds to species dependent on that marine habitat, the California Audubon notes:
[Humboldt Bay is] second only to San Francisco Bay in its importance to shorebirds, Humboldt Bay is one of the most important migratory stopovers along the United States Pacific Coast. It is a globally Important Bird Area and a Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network site of international significance. It boasts the highest shorebird species diversity on the West Coast, with 46 shorebird species regularly using the bay. It provides habitat to significant portions of the populations of Black Brant, Western Sandpipers, Least Sandpipers, Marbled Godwit, and Dunlin, among many others.
The bay is so rich in bird life because of its unusually varied intertidal zone and rich subtidal habitat, which is home to approximately 50% of California’s remaining eelgrass. Eelgrass is particularly important as habitat for producing forage fish and crustaceans and to provide food for migratory and breeding birds.
In the papers filed with the Superior court Earthjustice attorneys write:
"...the FEIR fails to fully inform the public and decision-makers of the Project’s significant environmental impacts and fails to analyze and mitigate these impacts as the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires. Petitioners therefore seek relief from this Court to void the Harbor District’s certification of the FEIR and approval of the Project. "
The papers go on to describe the impacts the proposed expansion would have and how the analysis was deeply flawed. Points discussed in detail include:
Impacts from Increased Disturbance Associated with Aquaculture Operations; Interference with Various Species’ Feeding and Movement Associated with Aquaculture Gear in Eelgrass and Mudflat Habitats; Broader Environmental Context of Project Impacts;  Impacts to Recreational Uses; The Project Approval Process; a Failure to Analyze Cumulative Impacts; and, Failure to Consider Reasonable Range of Alternatives
Get involved. Coast Seafoods is only one of the west coast shellfish companies who sees critical tideland habitat, including eelgrass beds, as little more than a template for corporate profits. Whether Puget Sound, Willapa Bay, Humboldt Bay or Drakes Estero, expansion into these critical areas is not speculative. It is real. There is money and motivation behind this industry to forever change a critical marine ecosystem which a diversity of species have depended on for existence. There is no other place to go. When it is gone, they will be gone. Forever.

CONTACTS
Trent Orr, Earthjustice, (415) 217-2000
Garrison Frost, Audubon California, (415) 644-4604
Mark Hennelly, California Waterfowl, (916) 648-1406, ext 105

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Changing the Nature of Puget Sound: the impacts from industrial aquaculture

When: May 21, 12:30 pm to 5:30 pm
Where: 4450 Blakely Ave NE, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110
Registration: [click here] (Note: Space is limited so registration is required).

This may be good for a few corporations
and the very well off consumers in China,
but not for Puget Sound. Find out why.

The Association of Bainbridge Communities' annual Environmental Conference will cover the impacts to Puget Sound from industrial aquaculture. From the announcement:
"Speakers for this regional conference will cover ecosystem impacts, science and policy of aquaculture, legal aspects of the industry, food safety and health issues, problems with Atlantic salmon netpens, and experiences of neighbors living with this industry on their shorelines."
Agenda:
12:30 pm - Registration/Exhibits at IslandWood Welcome Center
1:00 pm - Introduction to Conference
1:10 pm - Overview of Impacts of Industrial Aquaculture
1:30 pm - Dispelling the Myths of Aquaculture
2:05 pm - Legal Aspects including Shellfish Initiative
2:35 pm - Regulatory Gaps in Permitting
3:00 pm - BREAK to visit exhibits
3:20 pm - Specific Aquaculture Topics: Atlantic Salmon Feedlots and Spraying and Health Issues
4:20 pm - Panel of Puget Sound Homeowners impacted by Industrial Aquaculture
5:20 pm - Next Steps: getting involved
5:30 pm - Adjournment

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Norovirus Update: Outbreak News Reports over 300 Ill, King County Reports Washington Oysters Also Contaminated

Update: Widespread Norovirus contamination of oysters 
harvested throughout British Columbia and Washington.

Outbreak News reports  today that the Public Health Agency in Canada has reported over 321 illnesses traced to eating raw oysters contaminated with Norovirus which were harvested in waters of British Columbia. This total does not appear to include those who became ill in November who attended a festival on Vancouver Island. The 321 reported illnesses are all in Canada.

In addition, KING5 News reports that the Seattle King County Public Health Department has also reported an outbreak of illnesses traced to oysters harvested from Washington's Puget Sound, a body of water to the south of British Columbia, and consumed primarily in restaurants in Seattle. The Health Department noted the oysters were harvested from "different bays and beds across the state." KING5 noted a specific portion of Samish Bay was implicated in a large number of the illnesses, which Washington's Department of Health has now closed.

Speculation that the outbreak is related to the West Seattle sewage treatment plant problems is logical, but the outbreaks began before the failure so it is unlikely there is a relationship. Why the outbreak is so widespread is unknown. How the Department of Health will address the apparently growing problem is unknown.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

30 Million Gallons of Untreated Sewage Flow into Puget Sound

It's not raw sewage - it's only half raw.
Will the Trump administration care?

February 9th the West Point Treatment Plant in Seattle suffered a massive equipment failure. Since then Puget Sound's waters received 30 million gallons of untreated sewage. Currently, while repairs take place, the sewage flowing into Puget Sound from the plant being partially treated. Over 6 weeks later, the cause of the original flooding which crippled the treatment facility, is still unknown. It is hoped the repairs, currently estimated at $25 million, will be completed by the end of April. While clearly in violation of the Clean Water Act, it is not known whether action under the Trump administration will be taken.

Read more in the March 26 Tacoma News Tribune.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Ongoing Illness from British Columbia Oysters Puts Shellfish Safety in Question

Four months later, over 300 illnesses reported,
the source is not clear - beyond raw oysters.

What's in your filter feeder?
(Jean-Pierre Muller/AFP/Getty Images)

Headline March 22: B.C. shellfish industry reels as norovirus sickens hundreds, forces closures
(CTV News)
Headline January 13: BCCDC (British Columbia Center for Disease Control) advises consumers to properly cook oysters following outbreak (BCCDC)
Headline February 2: British Columbia oysters may be making Ontarians ill, health official warns (CTV News)
Headline November 25: Health officials investigate reports of illness after Tofino, B.C. food festival (CBC News)

18 Viral Particles and You're Ill
(Photo, CDC)

"Quickly" and "devastating" are apparently relative terms
Between November 25 and March 22, over 300 people having consumed raw oysters from British Columbia have become ill. Most are believed to be from reactions to Norovirus. While likely filtered from the coastal waters of the northwest, what its source is remains unknown.

Today, March 22, the shellfish industry has said it is "stunned" and they need to "find the cause quickly" as the alternative "could be devastating". It is unclear what "quickly" is defined as, given the outbreak has been ongoing over four months. It is also unclear what they define "devastating" as, given the number of people who have become ill and their inability to discover the source after four months.

As an article noted, the Executive Director of the shellfish growers association says, "...the far reach of the outbreak, which has been reported from oyster farms along much of the coast of Vancouver Island, is especially troubling."

In the mean time, the BCCDC recommends not consuming raw (uncooked) oysters harvested from British Columbia.

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Miami Herald Writes on Trump's Budget and the Risks to Puget Sound - Will Trump Care about Washington?

Research Supporting Geoduck Operations at Risk
But there's much more at risk.

The Miami Herald writes on the risk to Puget Sound should the budget proposed by the Trump administration gain traction and become reality. Included would be de-funding Sea Grant and cutting $28 million from the EPA currently being used to support Puget Sound cleanup. While unrealistic to believe the deep funding cuts proposed  would be accepted by officials elected to Washington DC, there is no love lost by the Trump administration for the state of Washington, a state who President Trump lost to Hillary Clinton by a wide margin.

Oh yes it can happen here, and it is.

Making a list and Washington's on it.
As a result of President Trump's Executive Order 13768, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) now publishes a "list" of "non-Federal jurisdictions that release aliens from their custody" in which numerous Washington counties are listed as not supporting ICE policies. Washington's Attorney General having filed and won a court case against President Trump's immigration policy has no doubt been added to the list. Washington's Representative Kilmer's (D) being upset at apparent ties between Russia and Trump surrogates a today's hearing will no doubt be added, as will Governor Inslee's resistance to Trump policies. Don't believe these things will not be used by a dangerous man and his surrogates against Washington, whether in the form of funding removed for the support of sanctuary cities or funding for protection and restoration of Puget Sound. It can happen here.

Get involved - it takes more than marching on a weekend to protect what you care about. 
Slate recently wrote on Samatha Bee's Full Frontal who berated liberals for being good at protesting but horrible at voting (see youtube clip on "the resistance" here). She noted only 12% of the voters turned out for the recent Los Angeles' mayoral election. In Louisiana a run-off for a Senate seat was won by a Republican, where only 29% of registered voters turned out. As the Slate article notes:
"...this apathy for current elections does not bode well for Democrats hoping to put the U.S. back on the right track in 2018 and 2020."
If you care about Puget Sound and the funding which supports its health, get involved. The Miami Herald notes Tod Meyers with the Washington Policy Center as saying, it's disingenuous for local leaders to protest proposed cuts for Puget Sound when they have not prioritized spending for salmon recovery and Puget Sound, going on to quote him as saying:
"It's ironic to criticize people in Washington D.C. for not treasuring what is in our own backyard when we won't prioritize what's in our own backyard"
Don't complain. Get involved.



Friday, March 17, 2017

Clarification/Correction to March 15 Post on Funding

Clarification and correction to the post questioning whether funding cuts to support NOAA and other agencies was necessarily a bad thing.

Clarification
Direct reference to studies created by Jeff Fisher, operator of a geoduck farm under the name of "Fisherport", continued as recently as January 6, 2017, in a letter penned by Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association attorneys to the Corps of Engineers. That letter was in response to the Seattle District's proposed General Conditions to the 2017 Nationwide Permit and an attempt to lessen regulatory oversight by the Corps. Reference to Dr. Fisher was made in order to support PCSGA's position that aquaculture in Puget Sound had "...minimal adverse to beneficial impacts..."

In addition to Dr. Fisher's studies, the PCSGA attorney's letter from January, 2017, also referenced the involvement of National Marine Fisheries Services in the programmatic consultation between NMFS and the Corps of Engineers in which NFMS issued a Programmatic Biological Opinion (PBO) on the Corps' oversight, dated September 2, 2016. As noted in the NFMS letter, that consultation between NMFS and the Corps began in 2007, noting that consultation process resulted in:
"...a final Biological Opinion in November 2014. That opinion required NWP-specific consultations before the COE could issue an individual NWP. The Services are addressing [in their September letter] that requirement for the 2012 NWP 48 with this [September 2, 2016] PBO." (p. 2 of September 2, 2016 opinion)
Correction
After extensive NMFS involvement providing consultation to the Corps' Seattle District, Jeff Fisher has left NMFS and in 2016 began work at the Marine Institute.