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:
Legislative and Congressional contacts:

Additional information
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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Cumulative Impacts from Shellfish Farming Continue to Grow: What Ocean Acidification Means

Concerns over cumulative impacts from corporate shellfish farming continue to grow. Most recently the "Blue Ribbon Panel" on ocean acidification has spent a great deal of time analyzing how CO2 absorption in marine waters lowers pH levels ("acidification"). In turn, the entire food web is impacted, beginning at the fundamental level of phytoplankton upwards. Unlike other species of oyster, the Pacific oyster is apparently hyper-sensitive to these changes, to the point hatcheries are being shut down and natural "sets" are not occurring. But Puget Sound species are far more diverse than the non-native Pacific oyster.

Look a little deeper
than where the shellfish industry
wants you to.

At the core of ocean acidification is a reduction in "carbonate ions for calcifying biota" which 30% of Puget Sound's species are dependent on. This reduction, in turn, results in these species becoming physiologically stressed due to an increase in energy spent as they move through their life stages. Planktotrophic larvae are especially sensitive, becoming "energetically disadvantaged as they attempt metamorphosis, thereby suffering reduced survivorship and fitness." (Miller) [further details are included in Miller's study here and in Shalin Busch's presentation to the "Blue Ribbon Panel"]

From Shallin Busch Presentation - March 30, 2012                    
Why does this matter? The shellfish industry is pressing to greatly increase production in the tidelands and waters of Puget Sound. Densities far beyond those found in the natural environment are proposed. Geoduck are planted up to 3 per square foot in upper intertidal areas where they do not naturally occur. Mussel rafts grow larger, non-native mussels in densities of 25,000 pounds in a 1,020 square foot area which, per Bill Dewey with Taylor Shellfish, would require 1 acre, or 42,000 square feet of tidelands (a permit denied for 58 of these rafts in Totten Inlet is currently being appealed [click here for 12mb appeal]). Jim Gibbons with Seattle Shellfish has pointed out south Puget Sound is "only" harvesting an estimated 20 million pounds of shellfish in an area where Spain is harvesting 600 million pounds of mussels [click here for short video of Spain's mussel farms, preceded by short advertisement]. All these shellfish require diminishing calcifying agents to grow their shells.

If what has been presented to the "Blue Ribbon Panel" on ocean acidification is in fact true - that CO2 is causing a decrease in the ions needed for species to use for calcification - what will happen to those species if densities of shellfish increase to levels corporations want? This critical building block needed at the most fundamental levels of the food chain will not be there at the levels needed, having been instead used up by shellfish. As noted in the study by Miller [click here] there are oysters far less impacted by ocean acidification than the Pacific oyster.

Cumulative impacts from corporate shellfish farming do exist, they are increasing, and Taylor Shellfish with others are more than willing to spend immense sums of money to fight any consideration of cumulative impacts in permitting decisions.

Before agencies rush to satisfy the needs of a few corporate shellfish companies they should consider listening to the voices of what the shellfish industry would like to consider just a few "NIMBY's" (Not In My Back Yard). The continued increase in calls about aquaculture's tideland habitat transformation seen on Eld Inlet, Totten Inlet, Oakland Bay, Pickering Passage, Case Inlet, the Nisqually Reach, Henderson Bay and Burley Lagoon are from more than "just a few NIMBY's". They are eyewitnesses to an unsustainable transformation and can see down the road to what's coming.

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