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:

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

Monday, February 6, 2017

Willapa Bay Herbicides: Ecology Extends Comment Period for Application of Imazamox by Shellfish Growers

Get involved. If you don't the shellfish industry's "alternative facts" generated by their paid contract scientists will continue to guide agency decision making on the expansion, and impacts from, aquaculture in Washington's marine waters. Tell the Department of Ecology to stop allowing herbicides and pesticides to be applied in Willapa Bay.

Comment period extended to: March 7, 5PM
Comment form: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wq/pesticides/eelgrass.html
or, Mail to: Nathan Lubliner, DOE
PO Box 47696
Olympia, WA 98504-7696

We don't like your study's conclusion, so we'll find our own. They appreciate our money.
"If a reduction in shoots translates to death of the affected plants [native eelgrass], it may be premature to conclude little if any impact on native eelgrass outside of the 10m buffer." Impacts of Imazamox on Native Eelgrass, Grue and Conquest, with the University of Washington (Conclusion, p. 12)

Comments already submitted by the Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat have stated the initial study performed by University of Washington scientists Christian Grue and Loveday Conquest on application of Imazamox to beds owned by Taylor Shellfish showed native eel grass outside of the buffers was being negatively impacted by Imazamox . They suggested in the conclusion of their study to monitor the same site in the future and would do so as part of their contract (Contract Number 14-1358). However, in the Coalition's comments, it is stated Taylor Shellfish prevented the University of Washington scientists from returning to their tidelands for follow-up studies. (Grue and Conquest "were barred from re-entry into the test site in 2015 by the grower,Taylor Shellfish, to do their follow up results." Coalition comments, page 3.) 

You'll like her conclusions much better.
Instead of allowing Grue and Conquest back, the Coalition's comments state that Confluence Environmental was chosen as the firm who Taylor would allow back for follow-up studies. Confluence is considered the "go to" biological firm for hire used by the shellfish industry when they need support at hearings for permits or legislative support. They are paid well to support what the industry wants. The independent scientists from the University of Washington were apparently told they had fulfilled the terms of the contract and that despite their offer to follow-up for no charge, Confluence would be paid to do that. 
[Note: Not mentioned was that it was Confluence who provided what was considered inappropriate data, by someone considered not to be knowledgeable on eel grass, at the Detienne geoduck operation permit hearing. The Court of Appeals Washington State decision agreed that permit should be denied, despite what Confluence tried to get people to believe. Attempts by shellfish attorneys to block that decision from being published were denied.]
Should conflicts of interest matter? Disclosure of conflicts should be out front if your study - or opinion - is used to support something you may profit from.
In addition to Confluence, DOE has provided another follow-up study provided by Kim Patten with Washington State University. Mr. Patten has, over the years, provided numerous opinions, some called studies, which support whatever it is the shellfish industry wishes to have supported, including the ongoing application of herbicides and pesticides in Willapa Bay. According to the Coalition's comments, Mr. Patten has neglected to mention his ownership of tidelands in Willapa Bay, stating further, he also has a clam farm on those tidelands. [Note: It could not be confirmed there was an active clam farm operation on Mr. Patten's tidelands.]

Contrary to what DOE says, agencies did not agree the study showed no harm from Imazamox, let alone that it was adequately designed.
Further discussed in the Coalition's comments was that initially, DOE claimed that agencies had supported the buffer, stating so both in the December 7, 2016 announcement, as well as at the first public meeting held January 24, 2017. When challenged, that comment was withdrawn. In fact, the Department of Natural Resources wrote in June of 2016 that WDNR "...remains concerned about impacts to native vegetation when lmazamox is sprayed to manage Z. japonica." 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Illnesses from Raw Oysters Consumed at Taylor Shellfish's Queen Anne "Oyster Bar" Reported by King County

Illnesses traced to raw oysters
consumed at Queen Anne location.

King County Public Health has reported illnesses traced to raw oysters consumed at Taylor Shellfish's Queen Anne, Seattle, location. The "norovirus-like symptoms" were reported to King County Public Health on January 9th and traced back to raw oysters consumed on January 4th. An investigation of the restaurant on the 11th eventually confirmed the raw oysters consumed there as the source. The press release notifying the public was dated January 27th.

Many bacterium and virus may cause "norovirus-like" symptoms, some more so than others. Consumers whose immune systems are suppressed should be especially aware of the risks inherent in consuming raw seafood. Warming water temperatures, some believe tied to man-caused global warming, will increase the likelihood of  different Vibrio strains and blooms in Puget Sound which oysters' natural filtering retain during the summer months.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Monterey Bay Aquarium Drops Commercially Farmed Geoduck from Green "Best Choice" Category

Commercial Geoduck 
from Washington
Loses Certification

Commercially Farmed Geoduck From Washington Lose Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch "Best Choice" Certification
Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch has dropped commercially farmed geoduck from their green "Best Choice" category due to a "...heavy reliance on plastic tubing to protect growing geoduck clams, and a better understanding of the ecosystem impacts of this practice is needed." It was a move long in coming and a welcomed recognition that this form of aquaculture is, in fact, transformative to the tidelands of Puget Sound in which it is taking place. (Note: Taylor still notes geoduck as being a "Best Choice" on their website.)

Is "Farmed Responsibly" the same?
From one to the next.
Without Monterey Bay Aquarium's certification showing that commercially farmed geoduck grown in Washington's Puget Sound is a sustainable "Best Choice", Taylor Shellfish has now sought, and achieved, a certification of "farmed responsibly" from another body, the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC). As with all standards bodies and their associated certifications, differences exist, and the two certifications are not equivalent.

Benchmarking ASC versus Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch
In a 2012 evaluation of other certification bodies, ASC Bivalve (clam) standards did not meet the green, "Best Choice" level of Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Choice. Below is the result from Monterey Bay's "Eco-certification Benchmarking Project" (page 7) which compared other certification bodies to Monterey Bay's Seafood Watch.
[Note: The ASC 'Bivalve Standard' used for certification was 'Version 1, dated January of 2012'. This was a certification standard which Bill Dewey, with Taylor Shellfish, played a direct role in developing.]
ASC versus Monetery Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch (click to enlarge)

In addition to ASC, the other certification body which Taylor Shellfish also used, the Food Alliance, while higher than ASC, was still not able to achieve the "Best Choice" level of certification.

Food Alliance versus Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch

Does it really matter? It should.
When testimony is given to Hearing Examiners about certifications to support permit applications, it should matter. At Tuesday's hearing for a geoduck farm permit in Puget Sound's Zangle Cove, Diane Cooper with Taylor Shellfish testified that all of their farms had been certified as being "sustainable" by ASC. Initially, Ms. Cooper was confused about what ASC stood for, telling the examiner it stood for "Aquaculture Sustainability Certification". She later corrected the description of what ASC actually stood for (Aquaculture Stewardship Council), but not that ASC only certified farms as being "responsible", not sustainable (from ASC's website: "ASC aims to be the world's leading certification and labelling programme [sic] for responsibly farmed seafood.")
(Hear Ms. Cooper discuss what she thought ASC stood for, here, at 20:28)

Moving aquaculture towards truly sustainable practices is a goal which all should support. Why a company moves from one certification body to another is something which should be looked at closely, whether you are a consumer or an agency listening to testimony. In this case, that Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch has dropped commercially farmed geoduck from Washington from their green, "Best Choice" certification category, should not be masked by achieving certification from another body.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Reminder: January 17 - Hearing on Zangle Cove Geoduck Operation in Zangle Cove

Zangle Cove Hearing Continued to Tuesday, January 17, 2017 at 10 a.m.
Thurston County Courthouse 
Building One, Room 152

Who is that "recreating" over my geoduck farm
and why are they "recreating" there?
Diane Cooper of Taylor Shellfish:
Clear evidence you can "recreate" over a geoduck farm.
(Exhibit submitted by shellfish attorneys in hearing.)

Better bring lunch and dinner to eat. 
The appeal of Thurston County's "Mitigated Determinatin of Non-significance" (MDNS) for a geoduck operation in the ecologically sensitive Zangle Cove, whose tidelands were not sold as being suitable for aquaculture, and the associated Shoreline Substantial Development Permit, continues January 17. Based on an email from the Hearing Examiner, it may be a marathon, stretching into the night, noting parties should "... arrange to be available into the evening as late as necessary." Bring food for the body.

Mental food for thought from a recently published court decision the shellfish industry attempted to prevent being published.
Appeals Court of Washington:
The SHB [Shorelines Hearings Board] concluded the permit did not appropriately balance statewide interests and was inconsistent with RCW 90.58.020

The SMA [Shoreline Management Act] is liberally construed "to give full effect to the objectives and purposes for which it was enacted." RCW 90.58.900. The essential purpose of the SMA is to protect the shorelines of the state because they are "among the most valuable and fragile of its natural resources." RCW90.58.020. Permitted shoreline uses must be designed and conducted in a manner that minimizes damage to the ecology, damage to the environment, and interference with the public's use of Washington's water. RCW 90.58.020.

Shorelines Hearings Board: There is more to the Shoreline Management Act than aquaculture.
" particular consideration must be given to balancing the interests of aquaculture as one statewide interest, with other statewide interests like the shoreline's ecological values and the public's recreational use"

Friday, January 13, 2017

DOE on Net Pen Fish Farming in Washington: After 30 years it's time we re-visited it.

Comment period extended to March 4
Email Cedar Bouta with DOE at: cedar.bouta@ecy.wa.gov
See: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/sea/aquaculture/recommendations.html

Should permit decisions on salmon net pen
farming be based on guidance from a 30 year old plan?

A 30 year management plan on salmon net pen farming is finally going to be updated - after most counties on Puget Sound have been told their Shoreline Master Programs must accommodate net pen aquaculture. Is this really guidance or accommodation of an industry's desire to exploit Puget Sound's critical marine habitat for their benefit?

Yes, a lot can happen in 30 years.
Genetic modification is only one thing.

Have another meeting, write another email, give me some new guidance. Or not.
DOE notes they hope to have a new plan by 2019. A date after which which permits have been issued under the 30 year old management plan DOE used to tell counties this activity was in the state wide interest and must be allowed. This is the same DOE who decided not to discuss PVC tubes in their SMP Handbook, Chapter 16, with Ms. Bouta writing in an email dated June 17, 2015, to DOE's Perry Lund, "...I'm hesitant to include guidance on PVC tubes in the Aquaculture SMP Handbook chapter...". After whatever meetings took place, it was decided to leave mention of PVC tubes out of the chapter on Aquaculture, presented by DOE to counties to use in their program planning process.

Puget Sound's low salinity
keeps Sea Lice from being a problem.
(DOE's Lori Levander in 2013)
Near Olympia, about as far south as you can get,
Sea Lice have no problem surviving.

Net Pen science likely discovers risks to wild salmon and marine habitat over 30 years time. But let's wait until the SMP updates are completed and we've told counties these pens are in the "statewide interest" so should be permitted.
Ecology is replacing the state’s 30-year old management recommendations for commercial marine finfish aquaculture (net pens). Why the Department of Ecology decided to wait until most of the counties impacted by what an updated plan would reveal isn't made clear. Unfortunately, as noted above, by the time a new "plan" is created, new operations will have been permitted and will likely never go away.
Politics at its best: Industry and DOE 
hand in hand, testifying before the House
on why net pen farming is good for you (2013)
Net pen farming is good for you
if you're a fish grower, questionable by others.
(CLICK HERE for testimony which begins at 22:50
through 1:01:43, then begins again at 1:04:39 to 1:59:00)

Is it any wonder people question who the Department of Ecology is really working for?
After allowing Whatcom County to ban salmon net pens in their Shoreline Master Program update, then telling Jefferson County "oops, we made a mistake" and Jefferson County could not ban them in their SMP update, then telling Island County they would be able to ban them due to a "...lack of evidence that net pens are an immediately foreseeable use", and having told other counties in the process of updating their Shoreline Master Programs net pen farming is in "the statewide interest" and should be allowed, Washington's Department of Ecology has now decided their 30 year old management plan should be updated with current science. Science which may have been found to be very useful in determining whether, in fact, net pen farming is really something in the statewide interest, or instead, in the interest of a few large corporations seeking to exploit Puget Sound's critical marine habitat. Orchestrated testimony before a House committee by net pen industry representatives with DOE on net pen farming clearly puts in question who is pulling what strings.

Get involved. As seen in the 2013 testimony, industry is and they are very motivated.
At the very least you may send comment to DOE on what a new and updated plan should include. Better is to tell DOE and your elected officials they have so badly managed their net pen guidance that no permitting in any counties should be allowed until the new plan is developed.

Governor Inslee: https://fortress.wa.gov/es/governor/
Legislative and Congressional contacts:

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Washington Court of Appeals Agrees to Publish Decision Supporting Permit Denial of Geoduck Operation

The Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat has released a statement about the Washington Court of Appeals agreeing to publish their decision which affirmed a Shorelines Hearings Board permit denial for a geoduck operation in Pierce County. Despite immense sums of money having been spent by the shellfish industry for attorneys, expert witnesses, and even political donations in support of a Pierce County attorney running for mayor of Gig Harbor, and a final attempt by the industry to claim the decision had little in the way of public interest, the panel of judges agreed to publish their ruling.
Read decision in support of denying permit here:
Read decision agreeing to publish here:

Dear Interested Parties,
The Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat is pleased to announce that the Washington State Court of Appeals has granted our motion to publish the Detienne Shoreline Hearings Board win that will serve to protect our marine critical habitat, eelgrass, forage fish, the public's right for safe recreation/windsurfing and the need for cumulative impacts analysis..

The Washington State Court of Appeals, Division 1 decision affirmed the Shorelines Hearings Board (SHB) decision to deny the 5 acre geoduck aquaculture permit in Henderson Bay/Pierce County.  The Court of Appeals stated: 

1.  "We conclude the SHB did not err in concluding the Coalition met its burden of proving the permit buffers did not adequately protect eelgrass from adverse impacts in violation of the SMA (Shoreline Management Act) and Pierce County SMP (Shoreline Master Program).".. The Coalition relied on the FSEIS buffer to argue the buffers approved by the Hearing Examiner were inadequate. The FSEIS identifies the need for a "2-foot vertical buffer or a minimum of 180-foot horizontal buffer" between eelgrass and geoduck harvest areas to protect eelgrass."

"The SHB found that while Meaders (industry expert) "is knowledgeable of the geoduck industry and science underlying aspects of industry practices," she was not "a credible expert in all aspects of study related to the nearshore environment to which she claimed expertise."

2. "Evidence presented at the hearing showed there are potential adverse impacts to critical habitat."

3.  "Because the consideration of a cumulative impact analysis prior to approval of the permit is consistent with the purpose of the SMA and clearly furthers the goal of the SMA to prevent "uncoordinated and piecemeal development,"the SHB did not err in concluding consideration should be given to preparing a cumulative impacts analysis."

4.  "De Tienne contends the SHB decision is not timely..... Because de Tienne stipulated to consolidation of the petition he filed on June 28, 2013 and there is no dispute the SHB extended the time period for good cause for an additional 30 days, the SHB complied with the time limits of the statute."

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

Laura Hendricks
Director, Coalition To Protect Puget Sound/Habitat
(253) 509-4987

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

January 17: Zangle Cove Appeal and Permit Hearing Rescheduled/Sohn Separates Tidelands

Zangle Cove Hearing Continued to Tuesday, January 17, 2017 at 10 a.m.
Thurston County Courthouse 
Building One, Room 152

Better bring lunch and dinner. 
The appeal of Thurston County's "Mitigated Determinatin of Non-significance" (MDNS) for a geoduck operation in the ecologically sensitive and enjoyed Zangle Cove and associated Shoreline Substantial Development Permit continues January 17. Based on an email from the Hearing Examiner, it may be a marathon, stretching into the night, noting parties should "... arrange to be available into the evening as late as necessary."

What are those tidelands really worth?

"I want to be a farmer." Be careful what you wish for, because your tidelands may now be taxed as "geoduck farmland" instead of open space. Unless lobbyists can prevent it.
As the hearing has progressed, Mr. Sohn has stated he wanted to be a farmer on his tideland parcel. Apparently to that end, or for some other reason, he has decided to separate his tidelands from his upland parcel. So doing creates the ability to now tax his tidelands at what their true value is, as tidelands created for a geoduck operation, instead of "open space" as they and others in Zangle Cove have been for decades in the past, affording an extremely low tax rate. For reference, Taylor Shellfish purchased 10 acres of tidelands, many used for growing geoduck, from Manke Timber in Mason County. Those 10 acres of tidelands are currently appraised at $872,000 (dropping slightly from $899,000 in 2013). If appraisers used "like sales" as they are supposed to, Mr. Sohn's 1.6 acres of tidelands, if used for a geoduck operation, would be appraised as high as $139,000.

Friday, December 23, 2016

British Columbia: Massive Chinese shellfish hatchery near completion on Sunshine Coast

Guess they're just not into you that much anymore.
Licensed to grow seed for geoduck, 
Pacific oyster, scallop and urchin.

Risk to investors and banks is a relative thing.
Apparently becoming aware that being beholden to a few shellfish operators in the United States was not an economically sustainable model, the Chinese are nearing completion of Phase 1 of what ultimately will be among the largest (if not the largest) shellfish hatchery and farming operations in North America. It will compete directly with current shellfish operators such as Taylor Shellfish and Coast Seafoods, who to date have had little real competition to disrupt pricing and distribution models which have existed for decades. How investors and those financing expansion will react to what appears to be a disruptive event is not known, but risk to returns is certainly elevated.

Comparison of Taylor Shellfish to Hummingbird Cove

Investors rule of thumb: Invest in an industry where anyone can make money. 
Yesterday, the Times Colonist wrote that Phase 1 of a Chinese owned shellfish hatchery facility in British Columbia is nearing completion and will cover over 34,000 square meters (365,000 square feet). By comparison, the Nisbet (Goose Point) hatchery facility moved from Willapa Bay to Hawaii is 20,000 square feet. Another perspective is seen in the image above, showing Taylor Shellfish's Quilcene Dabob Bay hatchery facility. Overlying the Taylor Shellfish facility in red is the estimated size of Phase 1. The Vancouver Sun has reported that Phase 2 is expected to result in a facility able to grow and export mature shellfish by the year 2020. Last year, Hatchery International reported that Hummingbird facility was approved to expand within a 27 hectare (~66 acre) area, outlined in blue and orange, an area dwarfing current facilities.

This Christmas, be careful what you ask for. You may just get it.
The shellfish industry for years has been lobbying at the federal, state and local levels to minimize regulatory oversight. Their success has been seen in many areas, ranging from minimizing eelgrass protection to convincing Mason County that tidelands sold under the "Bush Act" should be considered as existing shellfish farms. All aimed at allowing for an increased expansion of operations, then supply, and hoped for profits. That the Chinese business leaders were not born yesterday and can see a market controlled by only a few, for the benefit of those few, has resulted in a multi-million dollar investment by one company in Canada. Others will follow. Those shellfish grown will not be for Canada, but exported. When combined with expansion efforts in the US, a deflating commodity balloon may be what comes for Christmas.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Restoration of the Seattle Shoreline's Seawall Begins - Oyster Shell to Remain Permanently

Permanent habitat restoration taking place
along Seattle's shoreline.

These shells won't be removed in 2 years.
Using discarded oyster shell, the City of Seattle will create a 150' long underwater "bench" which will remain in place, creating permanent habitat for species in Puget Sound. It is one of a growing number of long term actions being taken to restore habitat in Puget Sound which will, over decades, benefit numerous species native to Puget Sound. Other projects being undertaken include bulkhead removal and soft armoring in order to restore the function feeder bluffs provide, through adding sediments to the tidelands of Puget Sound.

These cumulative impacts help.
Projects such as these, as small as they are, will cumulatively begin to help restore what developments and intertidal operations have altered over the last 100 years of activity. They are important and should be supported by all.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ACS) Extends Comment Period on Taylor Shellfish Sustainability

November 30th: Comments may be emailed to Juan Aguirre at JAguirre@scsglobalservices.com

Should this be certified as "sustainable"?
PVC tubes used to grow geoduck
in Puget Sound for Chinese consumption.

Comments accepted through November 30
The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) has extended until November 30 its public comment period on the Draft Audit reports for Taylor Shellfish. ASC has audited three separate areas in which Taylor Shellfish has shellfish operations, names changing slightly as the process as moved forward. Included are Key Peninsula (includes Burley Lagoon), Samish Bay, and Hood Canal.
[Note: In addition to physical operations, personnel policies and corporate culture are also considered. The Draft Audit Reports found discrimination and harassment to be "major non-conformities" at Taylor . Problems called out included sexism, nepotism, and hours worked (see "Non-conformity" sections of all audits). Related, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit against Taylor Shellfish on September 28 for a related personnel problem (see EEOC lawsuit papers filed here). Whether ASC will accept changes proposed by Taylor while the government suit remains unresolved is unknown.]

Key Peninsula Operations, South Puget Sound
(Red arrows = current geoduck operations)
click on image to enlarge
[CLICK HERE for audit report]

Hood Canal Operations
click on image to enlarge
[CLICK HERE for audit report]

Samish Bay Operations
Skagit County
(click on image to enlarge)
[CLICK HERE for audit report]