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:

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Geoduck Farm Hearing in Thurston County, December 17

December 17, Monday, 1PM
Room 152, Thurston County Courthouse Complex
Building #1 - Administration
2000 Lakeridge Drive SW, Olympia
verbal and written testimony will be accepted at the hearing.
[Click here for county information **VERY LARGE FILE**]

Location of Xia farm on Wheeler Parcel
9330 Maple Beach Lane NW
With adjacent existing farm to the south

A fourth Shoreline Substantial Development Permit for a new geoduck farm in Thurston County has been requested and a hearing scheduled. Adjacent to an existing geoduck farm in Eld Inlet this will be the fourth addition to the numerous existing geoduck farms already existing in Thurston County.
Existing Geoduck Farms Placed
Before Shoreline Permits were Required

How many geoduck farms are there in Thurston County?
Based on the staff report, the answer to this question is unknown. On page two of the staff report, it notes: "...immediately South is a commercial Geoduck plantation of approximately 1.75 acres. Based on aerial photos it appears that this adjacent Geoduck plantation was installed sometime between 2008 and 2009. No Shoreline Permit or exemption was issued for this adjacent Geoduck Plantation." (To be clear, in 2007 Taylor Shellfish reported to the Army Corps this adjacent parcel  -12903240500 - to be growing geoduck, manila and littlneck clams and, pacific and kumamoto oysters. It did not state how long this farm had been growing these shellfish.)

Geoduck farms in North Henderson Inlet
Existing and Proposed

Why should the county, and taxpaying citizens, care how many farms exist?
Beyond cumulative impacts of numerous adjacent farms operating on separate schedules and grow-out cycles, Thurston County is the only county known to be making an attempt to determine the fair market value of tidelands converted to shellfish farms, especially geoduck farms. In order to do so they need to know whether a farm is in place and what it is growing, in part why the SSDP is so important.
Geoduck Farms near Nisqually Delta
(click to enlarge)

What is the value of a tideland parcel converted to a geoduck farm?
To put the importance into perspective, the entire Wheeler parcel (12903240200) is currently assessed at $82,100, resulting in property taxes of $880 [click here for tax information]. Tidelands make up ~$1,600 of that value [click here for valuation report]. If the .92 acre farm is planted as described, in 5 years the operator (based on today's price) will generate over $1 million with $100,000 or more going to the Wheelers, or $20,000 per year in lease revenues. Once permitted, a farm will be able to operate for numerous cycles, meaning a $1,600 tideland parcel generates ~$20,000/year to the owner, over $180,000 per year in net profits to the operator.

Why do shellfish operators prefer leasing to ownership?
Beyond the reality that tideland owners do not realize the true value of their property, it is because the current leases are written such that the owner is responsible for property taxes, not the operator. When the counties, lead by Thurston County, realize the fair market value of a tideland parcel permitted and converted to geoduck farming exceeds $100,000/acre it will be the owner who has to pay the tax increase. Not the operator.

Get involved. The shellfish industry has pushed to have Japanese eelgrass in all Willapa Bay declared a "noxious weed." Puget Sound's tideland conversion is next and it is coming faster that you know.
Beyond money, it will be the future generations who pay for the conversion in habitat which has occurred when endless cycles of planting and harvesting occur.


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