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, January 2, 2013

Vibriosis Contracted from Washington Oysters Continues to Increase: DOH Requests Rule Changes

Brian Sheldon, Northern Oyster Company: "Industry is caving in"

Public Involvement: Contact Rick Porso at DOH - rick.porso@doh.wa.gov (reference "Vibrio Rule Making")
To be made part of what the State Board of Health has described as a "collaborative rule making with a stakeholder committee process to develop the proposed rule," the public is encouraged to contact Rick Porso by email, or by mail at:
Rick Porso
Department of Health, Office of Shellfish and Water Protection
P.O. Box 7824
Olympia, WA 98504-7824

Why the proposal?

Despite a March 2009 revision to safety regulations, Washington's shellfish industry has failed to reduce Vibriosis contracted from Washington oysters. In fact, the State Board of Health notes it has "steadily increased." As a result, the Department of Health has asked the State Board of Health to modify state regulations to better protect consumers. [click here for announcement] Also involved will be the FDA who has been attempting to prevent contraction of vibriosis as well as deaths caused by Vibrio vulnificus (Vv), a more virulent strain of Vibrio spread through oysters harvested in the Gulf states during warm months. Of major concern is the warming water temperature of Puget Sound which will cause the more virulent Vv to begin growing.

"Industry is caving in" (Brian Sheldon, Northern Oyster Company, Willapa Bay)
For the sake of all those who have become ill, and to prevent future illnesses and associated economic loss, it is hoped the attitude of the shellfish industry will be more cooperative than that reflected by Brian Sheldon, owner of Northern Oyster Company in Willapa Bay. At the August Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association meeting he complained that comments made in the July meeting about another grower purchasing a refrigerated truck to help keep temperatures down and Vp from growing made it appear industry was supporting safety concerns. He demanded those comments be stricken from the notes of the July meeting because it made it appear "industry is caving in." No doubt he was also worried it would impact his "business plan" as he claims Japanese eelgrass has.

Why should it matter to the public?
Beyond the attitude reflected by Mr. Sheldon, the shellfish industry has also stymied FDA attempts to communicate to the public the dangers in disease contracted from the consumption of shellfish contaminated by Vibrio. They felt these attempts to help maintain food safety created an "economic hardship" for the industry (see Issue Paper below). There is apparently little concern to the economic hardship incurred by individuals, families, government agencies, and taxpayers when contaminated oysters enter the market and cause outbreaks.

Governor Gregoire's recent funding of hatcheries which produce genetically modified triploid Pacific oysters will only make matters worse. These genetically modified oysters grow faster, and as they are sterile, maintain their "firmness" during the warm summer months. When combined with NOAA and the Governor pressuring agencies to lessen regulations, a significant risk to an increase in Vibriosis related disease is apparent, and why the State Board of Health has acted to control what the industry cannot. Unfortunately, the new regulations developed under the "collaborative rule making" process outlined will not be finalized until early 2014, leaving the summer of 2013 one to remember.

(click to enlarge)

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