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.

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Burley Lagoon Shellfish Operation Taken over by Taylor Shellfish

After generations of the Yamashita family operating the shellfish farm in Burley Lagoon, Jerry Yamashita has decided to turn it over to Taylor Shellfish. Mr. Yamashita's father, Masahide, was instrumental in transitioning the Puget Sound shellfish species from native Olympia oysters to Pacific oysters, imported from Japan. Were it not for his business acumen and connections in Japan, it is unlikely Taylor Shellfish would be what it is today (click here to read about the Yamashita family).

Jerry Yamashita

What Taylor Shellfish plans to do within Burley Lagoon is unknown. What is known is Burley Lagoon's habitat supports a diverse set of species. Documented spawning for Pacific Herring, a critical forage fish, exists in the Lagoon. Salmon, steelhead and cutthroat all migrate through the Lagoon. At the north end of the Lagoon an environmental tragedy exists where transformers were decommissioned and leaked PCB's and dioxins, resulting in a superfund site being created (click here to read about the Strandley-Manning Superfund Site). Unknown is what amount of PCB's and dioxins were carried into Burley Lagoon and continue to exist within the sediments where Taylor's likely expansion of shellfish operations will occur.

Burley Lagoon
(click to enlarge)

Burley Lagoon's environment presents additional challenges to any developments which occur in the tidelands.  The Lagoon is known to be a "low flushing" body of water, resulting in impacts remaining within the lagoon.  Taylor Shellfish's mussel rafts in Totten Inlet were shown to lower dissolved oxygen and create degraded water quality through feces/pseudo feces and shell deposition. Geoduck farms result in the placement of PVC pipes in the tidelands, potentially leaching chemical compounds into the water, and harvesting is known to suspend sediments which, in the case of Burley Lagoon, would not be carried by the current but remain within the Lagoon. Finally, Taylor's operations are all tide dependent and Taylor has taken the position that as such, midnight shellfish tideland operations in the winter are perfectly fine, whether loading; unloading; harvesting; or planting, whether residents live nearby or not.

Burley Lagoon and the entire area will be changed with the passing of the Yamashita family's oversight to the Taylor Shellfish corporation's tideland developments. To what remains to be seen. Perhaps one change to be expected is seen in this recent picture showing mussels expanding in the tidelands of Burley Lagoon.

Burley Lagoon Tidelands

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