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.

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Older News: from 2006 to 8/20/10
(This blog evolved from: http://protectourshoreline.org/)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Drakes Bay Oyster Company: Nitrogen Removal by Oysters Insignificant

NOAA Overstates Benefits of Nitrogen Removal
DBOC Overstates Effect of Ceasing Operations 

Delusional beliefs
In an email dated April 16, copied below, University of Texas at Austin's Professor Emeritus Lynton S. Land questions the recent article published by NOAA and whether removal of nitrogen by oysters from the Potomac River estuary is significant. The article is currently being promoted by Drakes Bay Oyster Company supporters to support the continued commercial operation in Drakes Estero, part of the Philip Burton Wilderness Area. Professor Land describes the belief that oysters will significantly improve the water quality of the Potomac River estuary as a delusion. Bob Rheault with the East Coast Shellfish Growers Association calls his belief valid.

Sop-up up strategies do not work - control the upland source
Professor Land goes on to note the only effective way to control nitrogen input into the Potomac River is by controlling upland inputs. He states "sop-up  strategies are never effective." He suggests a more effective means is controlling crop fertilization through the use of slow release nitrogen fertilizer and banning the on ground application of poultry litter and manure.

Drakes Estero does not benefit from the continued operation
Of significance for DBOC supporters is to remember that Drakes Estero is not the Potomac River. Agriculture on the surrounding uplands is minimal. Ranching activities are well controlled and have little impact. In a 2007 paper by Corey Goodman, he summarized the impacts on Drakes Estero this way:
The Anima (1991) study shows no impact of the ranches on the sediments, herbicides, pesticides, or nutrients in Drake’s Estero. The Wechsler masters thesis shows no major impact of the oyster farm on the fish communities. The Elliott-Fisk et al. (2005) study shows no impact of the oyster farm on the sediments or the eelgrass in Drake’s Estero.

Aquaculture disruption is not restoration of a wilderness area
The question left for supporters on both sides of the issue is whether ceasing commercial operations will have a long term impact on the Philip Burton Wilderness Area. Removal of pressure treated racks, plastic tubes and grow out bags will have a one time impact of short duration on Drakes Estero. Ceasing the disruption to the ecosystem which harvesting activities create will be long term.
Professor Land's Email
The NOAA & USGS study proposing that more oysters can significantly improve Potomac River estuary water quality is unrealistic. A 1946 paper states “...in the late 1800’s it [the oyster harvest] averaged approximately 1,600,000 bushels." Given 300 market-sized oysters per bushel, for few years, 480 million oysters were harvested annually. Then the harvest crashed and in recent years it has rarely exceeded 5,000 bushels. We can never restore the ecosystem to its condition in the late 1800’s. Given urbanization and chemically fertilized fields and lawns we can never return to late 1800’s nutrient levels.
One million market-sized oysters contain at most 150 kilograms of nitrogen (N), with sub-equal amounts in the shell and dry tissue. Even if we could harvest 480 million oysters again, only 72,000 kg of N would be removed (150 kg N/ million oysters * 480 million oysters). Today, the Potomac River receives about 30 million kilograms of N each year. So the maximum oyster harvest ever recorded could only remove 0.2% of today’s N load (72,000 / 30,000,000). Meaningless! If we take into account N removal from the ecosystem by denitrification and sediment burial, about the same amount of N is removed from the ecosystem as by harvesting the oysters. But if oyster shells are returned to the water to serve as a substrate for more oyster strike, as they certainly should, the N in the shell is not removed from the ecosystem. The required annual harvest remains preposterous. 
The authors of the study state “There is increasing recognition, however, that returns on investment in both point- and nonpoint-source controls are diminishing, that additional management will not lead to significantly greater reduction in nutrient loads….” They are certainly correct for point source discharge from wastewater treatment plants, which has been reduced about as far as can reasonably be expected. But despite all the money that has been spent, Chesapeake Bay water quality has not improved. The reason for this sad fact is that, according to EPA’s final TMDL, agriculture is responsible for more than half of Chesapeake Bay’s N load. Nothing substantive has changed in the way crops are fertilized. Pollution always needs to be reduced at the source and “sop-up” strategies (oysters in this case) are never effective. The authors are incorrect about nonpoint source pollution because they ignore “additional management” by 1) banning the disposal of poultry litter, sewage sludge and manure by land application. This practice causes half of all agricultural pollution, more than is derived from point source discharge from wastewater treatment plants. It could be stopped with the stroke of a pen and the waste used for biofuel, and 2) phasing in controlled (timed-, slow-) release fertilizers to double the efficiency of N uptake by crops from about 65% to at least 80% (it is 30% for sludge).
Grow more oysters for the right reasons – they create habitat for other organisms and make great meals. Delusions about their role in improving water quality merely detract from the only action that will improve Bay water quality, significantly improving crop fertilization efficiency.  Dr. Lynton S. Land, Ophelia VA     www.VaBayBlues.org      April 16, 2014

Bob Rheault with the East Coast Shellfish Growers Association notes:
"His [Professor Land] concerns about the magnitude of that impact [nitrogen removal] are valid"

Monday, April 14, 2014

Drakes Bay Oyster Company: Petition Filed with Supreme Court Riddled with Mis-information

Environmental Action Committee of West Marin responds to the Pacific Legal Foundation's petition filed with the Supreme Court.
Don’t Be Fooled by Drakes Bay Oyster Company’s Supreme Court Petition
By Amy Trainer
The Drakes Bay Oyster Company’s relentless push to overturn the congressional wilderness designation for Drakes Estero got closer to the end of the road today when the company’s army of corporate lawyers filed a petition for review to the U.S. Supreme Court. The millions of advocates for our national parks, wilderness, and coastal protection refuse to let the Koch Brothers-funded Pacific Legal Foundation – the Company’s main proponent - and their public lands exploitation interests destroy Drakes Estero, the ecological heart of the Point Reyes National Seashore.
The Company’s petition is full of false statements of fact and exaggerations. For example, the Company's hyperbole likens restoring Drakes Estero wilderness to blowing up the Hoover Dam. Closing down the Company’s non-native oyster operations in Drakes Estero as long planned will not have an impact on California’s oyster market, as the petition asserts, because the Company only produces 3.5% of the West Coast oysters. Humboldt Bay, the state’s largest oyster growing area produces over 70% of California’s oysters, and is in the process of expanding by 50%. Native oysters were never abundant in Drakes Estero, and the Company’s stubbornly ignoring peer-reviewed science on this issue doesn’t change the facts.
The Company’s petition to the Supreme Court is a last-ditch move full of desperate arguments.  The 9th Circuit Appeals Court found the company unlikely to show that former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar abused his discretion in letting the 40-year oyster lease expire on its own terms. As readers may recall, the Company’s owner, Kevin Lunny, admitted in his federal court declarations that he was given written notice by the Interior Department in 2005 that after November 2012 Drakes Estero would be transitioned to wilderness. This transition follows the clear direction from Congress in 1976 under the Point Reyes Wilderness Act. Mr. Lunny knew the deal when he signed a contract with the Park Service yet now claims otherwise in his Supreme Court petition.
The Company’s petition misrepresents former Interior Secretary Salazar’s decision to let the oyster lease expire as long planned. Salazar’s Nov. 29th 2012 decision memorandum laid out the reasons why he relied on the public policy underlying the 1976 congressional wilderness designation for Drakes Estero. The 9th Circuit Appeals Court correctly noted that a 2009 bill authored by Senator Dianne Feinstein  [Sec. 124] “left him free to consider wilderness values and the competing interests underlying a commercial operation in an area set aside as a natural seashore.” The Company’s petition ignores the clear language of Salazar’s decision memo that indicates the care and thoughtfulness he exercised in weighing these competing values. As Interior Secretary, Salazar was the trustee of America’s public lands and this decision was clearly within his sphere of expertise. To claim Salazar’s decision was “arbitrary and capricious” because the Company disagrees with his discretionary decision shows the arbitrary nature of the Company’s petition.
Further, the Company’s petition misrepresents the strong 9th Circuit Appeals Court ruling and En Banc Rehearing Denial. The 9th Circuit rejected the Company’s “wishful thinking” that the Sec. 124 rider was intended to “make it easy” for Salazar to issue the permit.  The 9th Circuit decision noted that “the Secretary’s incorporation of the policies underlying wilderness legislation, and of Congressional intent as expressed in the House committee report, was a matter of his discretion." The majority opinion found that the dissent’s position was “not supported by the record,” and that the Secretary, “drawing on the agency expertise amassed in the decades since the 1970s, concluded that continued oyster farming was inconsistent with wilderness criteria and the Department’s policies.” 
The inconsistency is readily apparent in the Company’s green-washed “stewardship” of Drakes Estero. The Company conveniently omits any mention of its egregious 8-years-and-counting violations of the California Coastal Act, one of the worst offenders in the Act’s history. Instead of complying with the Coastal Commission’s second enforcement action to reverse environmental damage to the Estero during the Company’s short tenure – a unanimous Cease and Desist Order from February 2013 - the Company instead sued the Commission and has taken no steps toward meaningful compliance. The Company continues to grow invasive Manila clams and foster the spread of a nasty invasive species Didemnum vexillum, known as “marine vomit” which are causing increasing harm to this biologically rich area. Thousands of pieces of the Company’s plastic have polluted beaches all over the National Seashore.
The Company’s petition for review continues to push junk science by its loudest advocate, Dr. Corey Goodman who is a neurobiologist with no experience in marine ecosystems whose complaint attacking the analysis of noise from the Company’s operations was rejected by the Office of the Inspector General. The 2012 IG report concluded that, “We found no evidence, documents, DEIS revisions, or witnesses that supported the complainant's allegations."
The Company’s false claims denying impacts to harbor seals from its operations are similarly specious. An investigation by the federal Marine Mammal Commission concluded “mariculture activities in the estuary do disturb harbor seals.” The Company and its advocates attacked this report.
Then executive director of the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission found that the “majority of analyses” made by the Company’s advocate in attacking the National Park Service’s peer-reviewed research and the Marine Mammal Commission’s report, were based on “fundamental flaws in [Goodman’s] application of the multiple regression model and they invalidate” the results.” This was nothing new, as the Interior Department Solicitor’s March 2011 report noted that the Company's advocate “immediately attached labels of ‘false,’ and ‘misrepresentation’ and ‘misleading’ to every scientific assertion with which [he] disagreed.”
The 2012 National Academy of Sciences Report on the Draft EIS for the oyster operation found that the pro-wilderness “Alternative A” [removing the oyster operation] was by far the environmentally preferable alternative based on the best available peer-reviewed science as compared to Alternatives B, C, and D [the “action” alternatives representing varying levels of oyster production]. The Company’s inexorable attacks using questionable science to challenge the conclusions of the Draft and Final Environmental Impact Statements regarding the appropriate management for Drakes Estero fly in the face of the well-supported conclusion that the “environmentally preferable” alternative is to restore Drakes Estero to wilderness.
Point Reyes National Seashore draws 2.5 million visitors a year and is the major economic engine of western Marin County. This popularity of this human haven is not dependent in the least on the Drakes Bay Oyster Company. The Company bizarrely claims that the Interior Secretary's discretionary decision — authorized by one specific law — to let expire on its own terms one permit, for one company, in one area of one National Seashore somehow constitutes a matter of "exceptional importance.” The Supreme Court would serve the American people well by rejecting this specious petition and returning our only West Coast marine wilderness to all of us and future generations to enjoy.
This op-ed will appear in the East Bay Express this week.

Amy Trainer
Executive Director
Environmental Action Committee of West Marin
Box 609 Point Reyes, CA 94956
(415) 663-9312 office
(415) 306-6052 cell

Protecting West Marin Since 1971!

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Those who contemplate the beauty of the Earth
find reserves of strength that will endure
as long as life lasts.  ~ Rachel Carson

[4/16 comment update: Jane Gyorgy provided a number of extremely lengthy comments to this post. Those interested in reading what her point of view is may find her blog site here. She also provided 2 identical copies of the NOAA article on oysters and the Potomac River. See the 4/16 post for a response to that article.]

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Mason County Signs 16 Year Lease with Seattle Shellfish for Geoduck Cultivation

"You never know what tomorrow's going to bring."
Past Commissioner Bloomfield, w/Seattle Shellfish
Tidelands Leased by Mason County
to Seattle Shellfish for Geoduck Farming
 McMikken Island State Park on the right
Washington State Parks and Recreation on the left
19 acres leased for 16 years, with an option for another 16 years - acres useable unknown
Mason WebTV has reported the Mason County commissioners have signed a 16 year lease with Seattle Shellfish for a 19 acre tideland parcel between McMikken Island State Park and Harstine Island to grow geoduck on. The lease terms contain an option for an extension of an additional 16 years. The tideland area had been previously used by the public visiting McMikken Island State Park or the adjacent land on Harstine Island owned by the State of Washington Parks and Recreation. It is expected that once Seattle Shellfish begins planting geoduck access to the tidelands will be restricted.

Geoduck Planting with PVC Pipes

Tidelands useable are unknown
At the public hearing, past commissioner Steve Bloomfield with Seattle Shellfish described the tidelands as not all being suitable for geoduck cultivation. He notes some of it as being "hard pan, like this floor," some it as "very good," with the remainder being described as "we don't know yet." He went on to assure the county that whatever was done would be transparent.
Just an estimate - based on?
Commissioner Jeffreys: $3 million plus $1,000/acre planted - based on an unknown
Despite the unknown number of acres which will actually be available for cultivation, and of those what actually gets planted and when, Commissioner Jeffreys announced at the meeting that the county would be receiving an estimated $3 million dollars every 6 years. This figure is based on her describing the lease terms as being $1,000 per acre planted and 15% of the gross proceeds. Given Mr. Bloomfield's being unable to say how many acres actually useable puts in question how she was able to obtain the $3 million "estimate."
Taylor Shellfish's ~15 acre geoduck farm in Hammersley Inlet.
Appraised at $2,035, taxes collected = $21/year

Taxation of tidelands when they are converted to geoduck or shellfish production
As Commissioner Sheldon noted at the meeting, perhaps some tidelands held by Mason County could be leased in order to generate revenue for the county. Perhaps what the commissioners should consider instead is having their assessor value those tidelands put into production of geoduck or shellfish at what their real value is. So doing would most likely generate sums far greater than the currently unknown the county has committed to. Higher property taxes may also bring pause to current tideland owners who believe they will become as wealthy as the current owners of shellfish companies are becoming, at the expense of Puget Sound's tidelands.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Daylight Minus Tides in South Puget Sound Are Arriving - Go See What Only Puget Sound can Provide

There's a whole different world exposed 
when the tide is out which is worth protecting.
Get out to see what is only
visible during the minus tides.
Tide Charts on the Web

The first minus tides of 2014 will be arriving April 16th. The first set of low tides will fall to -1.6 on Friday the 18th at 2:47PM. At the end of April another set of minus tides will begin, also having the lowest at -1.6. There are a number of web sites which provide tidal information which are listed below. Some are able to provide more site specific information, others are more general. All are helpful to know when the lowest tidelands will be exposed, many on the weekends. Get out and experience what only Puget Sound is able to provide - a world in which species have adapted to survive in both water and air.

Dairiki will allow both monthly and daily tide charts. The times are based on Olympia. Oakland Bay (Shelton) is about 1 1/4 hours later (see NOAA site below for site specific information).

Tide Table for April, 2014
Olympia Times
Note: Not for navigation.
(click to enlarge)
Friday April 18, 2014
Deepzoom provides an interactive map of Puget Sound which shows currents and tidal elevations throughout the area. Below is an image from Friday, April 18 showing current flows during the flood tide following the -1.6 earlier in the day. You are able to set a variety of time scales and speeds, as well as zoom in to various locations.

From Deepzoom interactive site.
(click to enlarge)
NOAA provides a third alternative which allows for the choice of a number of stations throughout all of Puget Sound. Below is the April tide chart with the daily graph for each day. Choices allow for daily, weekly or monthly graphing and choice of locations (click on Washington, scroll down to Puget Sound, and make selection).

at Vaughn, Case Inlet
(click to enlarge)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Legacy of Our Ancestors: Treaty Resources of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe

Tribal Elder Marlin Holden

A short film conceived by Jamestown S'Klallam Tribal Elder Marlin Holden and filmed by videographer Al Bergstein provides a historical insight into the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe of north Puget Sound. 'Legacy of Our Ancestors: Treaty Resources of the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe' includes descriptions of times before settlement by western civilizations and the transition to the current Tribal Nation. Treaty rights to the natural resources and court decisions are an important part of the film.

While focused on the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe it is equally informative and applicable to all current Tribal nations of the Salish Sea. While showings are only scheduled in the northern part of Puget Sound, discussions have begun for other locations. Current dates are April 8, 9, 10 and 16.  

Current Schedule and Locations
(click to enlarge)

Monday, April 7, 2014

New Seattle Shellfish Geoduck Lease Terms: 50% of Gross Revenues to Tideland Owner

Tidelands are more valuable than owners realize
50% to the tideland owner
A Mason County tideland owner and Seattle Shellfish have created a new lease structure in which the tideland owner will receive 50% of the gross revenues from geoduck cultivated/harvested on his tidelands. He will be responsible for cultivation costs up to harvest time, but apparently not responsible for paying them until after harvesting. From the lease:
2. Lessee shall pay as rent an amount equal to 50% of Lessee's gross sales on all product harvested from the leased premises. Lessor is responsible for all costs of cultivation of the planted geoduck until harvest, such costs to be netted from the rent payable on product harvested. The Lessee shall furnish a monthly statement to the Lessor that shall indicate the total pounds and gross sales harvested that month. The Lessee shall pay Lessor on a quarterly basis by the 15th of the month, following the end of the quarter. The first quarter shall be January through March, second quarter shall be April through June, third quarter shall be July through September and the fourth quarter shall be October through December.
10% raised to 15%
In another lease agreement recently signed by Seattle Shellfish whose terms were extended, the percentage paid to the tideland owner was raised to 15% from the originally agreed to 10%. From that lease:
2. Lessee shall pay as rent $1,000 per planted acre, per year, rounded to the nearest quarter acre plus an amount equal to 15% of the gross revenue on all geoduck clams harvested from the subject property.

Another tideland owner cancels lease arrangement
On the other end, another Mason County tideland owner has chosen to end their relationship with Seattle Shellfish. The reasons are unknown but the lease which had been extended to 2016 has been cancelled.

Tidelands are more valuable than you know - don't ask them what they'll pay, tell them what you want.
Shellfish operators are out of tidelands to develop and are now dependent on private, state and county owned tidelands for production. Those entities should be aware of how valuable those tidelands are before simply accepting what had been an industry standard of 10% of gross revenues. There are those already in lease arrangements who have gone back to the operators and demanded, successfully, higher payments. If you are approached, don't ask them what they'll pay, tell them what you want - preferably your tidelands left undeveloped.



Sunday, April 6, 2014

Drakes Bay Oyster Comany: No More Floating Black Tubes

Now they are white and they sink.
(picture by Richard James, coastodian.org)

In a March 30 post on The Coastodian, Richard James writes about the continued plastic pollution created by the Drakes Bay Oyster Company in Drakes Estero, a commercial operation within the Philip Burton Wilderness Area which is preventing the final completion of that congressional act. In that post he describes having met with DBOC owner Kevin Lunny last year who noted the black tubes Mr. James and others continue to find along the shoreline are not his but instead are from the old operation he purchased. He assured Mr. James any tubes he found were not from the current operation which instead used longer white tubes.

My tubes are white.
(picture by Richard James, coastodian.org)

That sinking feeling
What Mr. Lunny neglected to tell Mr. James was that in addition to being white the current plastic tubes used also sink, preventing them from floating away to be discovered on the shorelines of the Philip Burton Wilderness Area. On the sediments they provide one more artificial surface on which the non-native tunicate Didemnum vexillum (Dv) is able to establish colonies on from which tailed larvae, buds, and portions of the colonies spread. Contrary to what the shellfish industry would have one believe, it in not a beneficial "structure" which enhances the habitat of Drakes Estero.

DBOC is not the only source.

April 12, Point Reyes beach cleanup day
April 12 will provide the public a focused opportunity to help clean up the plastic and trash - from a multitude of sources - which accumulates along the shorelines of Point Reyes. If you are interested in helping to ensure this form of pollution is minimized you may sign up here.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Citizens Speak Out on Concerns over Aquaculture at April 3 Pierce County Shoreline Master Program Update

[Update 4/6: Added additional comments from April 3 hearing.]

"We [Taylor Shellfish] are satisfied with the current draft."
Taylor Shellfish spokeswoman, April 3

"You really ought to be extremely afraid if [the spokeswoman]
for Taylor Shellfish is satisfied with the proposal."
Citizen Comment, April 3

"Taylors are my friends."
Small shellfish grower's comment on
who he'll stand behind if restrictions make his
business unprofitable. April 3

"Creating an environment which will attract people with means
who want to come here, want to live here, want to retire here,
and want to spend there money here is a much greater
economic incentive than the fish farming
or geoduck farming will ever be."
Citizen comment to Pierce County, April 3

Taylor Shellfish lobbyist Diane Cooper implies they
will tell the Department of Ecology to require
Pierce County to "prove" this should be more
regulated than it already is.
Well paid contract scientists can prove anything.
But are their reports really science?

Concerns on geoduck and fish farm pens expressed, written comments submitted
Citizens spoke out on concerns about aquaculture at the April 3 Pierce County Shoreline Master Program Update meeting (click for video). Concerns about geoduck farming and fish pen farming were expressed by numerous citizens in over 2 hours of testimony. Included was the need for a cumulative impacts analysis before expansion occurred. Anyone who is interested in why citizens are concerned over industrial aquaculture's conflict with the Shoreline Management Act will hear many well thought out comments made before the committee.

1908 Application to the State for a tideland purchase
fronting over 10,000 feet of uplands. It wasn't
to convert the tidelands to a shellfish farm.
Not all tidelands were sold for shellfish cultivation
Despite what the shellfish industry would have one believe, not all tidelands were sold with the goal of cultivating shellfish. As seen in the 1908 application for tidelands down to the mean low tide line above, the purchaser was clear in stating these tidelands "were not suitable for the cultivation of oysters". Large tideland sales throughout south Puget Sound were made without the intention of cultivating shellfish, but instead with the idea that upland property owners wanted to enjoy their tidelands in their natural state and to have access to the water at low tide. The shellfish industry is not correct in stating that all tidelands were sold to grow shellfish then and they are not correct in stating all tidelands today should be converted to industrial shellfish farms. In fact, it is the belief that shorelines are best suited for commercial development which brought about the 1971 Shoreline Management Act. It was an action created by the people and passed by the state legislature who cared deeply about the future of Puget Sound and did not believe commercial development of shorelines - and tidelands - was in the best interest of the state.

New Pierce County Shoreline Master Program Meeting Schedule
At the April 3, Pierce County Community Development Committee meeting (see video) on the Shoreline Master Program update (requires Microsoft Word), a new schedule of public meetings was announced. A direct result of the increased public participation the Committee has decided there is a strong need for additional meetings. Pierce County Council has also chosen to delay their vote, pushing that meeting out to the end of July. It was acknowledged that one of the significant problems to be addressed is why upland shoreline owners are having buffers imposed on them while industrial aquaculture development is allowed to transform the intertidal and subtidal areas.

Below is the newly announced schedule:

Monday, April 7, 1:30PM: Study Session
County-City Building, Room 1045
930 Tacoma Ave South

Thursday, July 10, 5:30PM
North Lake Tapps Middle School
20029 12th Street East
Lake Tapps

Monday, July 14, 5:30PM
Pacific Lutheran University,
Scandinavian Cultural Center
12180 Park Avenue South
Tacoma, WA

Thursday, July 17, 5:30PM
Peninsula High School Auditorium
14105 Purdy Drive NW
Gig Harbor

Monday, July 21, 1:30PM
County-City Building, Room 1045
930 Tacoma Ave South

Tuesday, July 29, 3PM
County-City Building, Room 1015
930 Tacoma Avenue South

Taylor Mussel Raft Permit Court Decision: Requirement for Monitoring Remanded to the Shorelines Hearings Board

APHETI has released a statement detailing the recent court ruling on Taylor Shellfish's proposed 58 raft mussel production facility at the mouth of Totten Inlet in south Puget Sound (see below).

Judge Schaller - cannot consider the Hearing Examiner's decision
In the court's decision, Judge Schaller ruled she could not consider the Thurston County Hearing Examiner's decision to require additional studies on dissolved oxygen and benthic impacts before permit approval, only whether the Shoreline Hearings Board's (SHB) agreement with the scientific conclusions which Taylor Shellfish's contract scientists reached were valid. She deferred to the SHB decision which had reversed the county Hearing Examiner's denial of that permit based on a lack of information.

SHB condition requiring additional monitoring remanded to the SHB
In addition, Judge Schaller also ruled on Taylor Shellfish's opposition to the SHB condition that monitoring be required. That condition required Thurston County (not Taylor Shellfish) to create a monitoring plan to determine whether the project's anticipated impact on dissolved oxygen and the benthic community were more adverse than Taylor's contract scientists determined they would be.

Taylor opposed to County's development of a monitoring plan
Initially, in response to the SHB requirement for monitoring, a plan was created by Taylor Shellfish's contract scientist and submitted to the SHB for consideration. That plan was based largely on how salmon net pens were monitored. The SHB denied consideration of that plan saying it was the responsibility of the County. Taylor then decided to withdraw that monitoring plan and appeal the condition in its entirety.

"Preferred use" is not an open door to any method of any size
As with other permits, Taylor Shellfish and the industry continue to stand behind the 1971 Shoreline Management Act's statement that aquaculture was a preferred use of Puget Sound waters and shorelines. In the 40 years following the passage of that act the shellfish industry has evolved beyond anything anticipated then. Methods using plastic growout bags and PVC pipes have fragmented the habitat of the intertidal areas. Mussel rafts grow hybrid species of mussel below a 30X38 foot surface area more shellfish than an acre of tidelands, a density found nowhere in the natural environment.

A scale is out of balance
This recent decision, the result of well paid attorneys and contract scientists, has further tipped a scale towards the industrial commercialization of an ecosystem unique to Puget Sound and Willapa Bay. It is what the Shoreline Management Act was intended to prevent and what APHETI and its many supporters have been trying to put back into balance.

Association for the Protection of Hammersley, Eld, & Totten Inlets
PO Box 11523, Olympia WA 98508-1523
(360) 866-8245                    www.apheti.com

April 2, 2014
Re:  Superior Court Decision

Greetings APHETI Members and Supporters -  

On Friday, March 28, 2014, Superior Court Judge Christine Schaller heard the joint APHETI / Thurston Co. appeal to rescind the decision of State Shoreline Hearing Board (SHB) overturning Thurston County's denial of Taylor's permit application for expanded mussel raft aquaculture in Totten Inlet.   Judge Schaller issued her ruling directly from the bench.  It was not in favor of the APHETI / Thurston County position.   

This is very disappointing to all who care deeply about the preservation of the South Sound Inlets.  APHETI members have understood from the beginning this would be an uphill fight against tremendous odds.  Regardless,  you continued for the past 18 years to do all that could be done within the scope of resources that have come only from your generous individual donations.  After the Superior Court proceedings were concluded, an APHETI member summarized her long experience by saying, “I have no regrets, just pride in having done what I know to be right!” 

The following is APHETI attorney David Mann's summary of Judge Schaller's ruling:

Judge Schaller's ruling was extremely deferential to the SHB’s legal position – declaring it was a specialized hearings board with far greater experience and expertise than herself. She expressly confirmed her ruling pertained only to the SHB's decision and not Hearing Examiner Bjorgen’s ruling on Taylor's Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).  In other words, because the SHB accepted the expert EIS author's conclusion (as substantial evidence) that there would be no significant impacts - that conclusion prevailed and could not be challenged on appeal.  Thus her basis for ruling to uphold the SHB’s decision reversing the Thurston County's denial of Taylor permit application. 

In response to Taylor's opposition to the rigorous environmental monitoring plan mandated in the SHB decision, Judge Schaller remanded the monitoring issue back to the SHB to allow Thurston Co. and Taylor to provide additional evidence in support of or in opposition to the SHB’s monitoring condition. 
Next Steps:  Taylor can not start anything even with a permit from Thurston Co. until the SHB monitoring issue is resolved and also gaining additional permits from various State and Federal Agencies.  The APHETI Board requests your input regarding APHETI's potential involvement in these challenges – especially as to the availability of the scientific and financial resources that will be required to move forward.  Please e-mail your comments to APHETI at:  apheti@gmail.com or send via US Mail to PO Box 11523, Olympia WA 98508-1523.   

Best Regards! - 
APHETI Board of Directors. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Imazamox Permit Issued: Washington Department of Ecology Approves General Permit

One more ingredient
approved for Willapa Bay's 
chemical soup.
(spraying Spartina in Willapa Bay)

Washington's Department of Ecology has issued a General Permit which will allow for the application of the herbicide imazamox on clam beds in Willapa Bay, including those which do not currently exist. As stated in Appendix B, Responsiveness Summary:
This would include existing operations as well as new aquaculture areas so long as they fit the definition of commercial clam bed (page 15, Appendix A, final EIS)
How many acres would be sprayed? That depends on what number you want to pick. It could be 1,100 (the number currently in production and impacted). Or it could be 4,100 if you added the 3,000 additional acres estimated to be out of production. Or, it could be 6,000 acres, the total number of acres estimated to be suitable for Manila clam production. 

Whatever the number, shellfish from Willapa Bay will have one more chemical to filter from their aquatic environment.