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:

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Shellfish Growers "Adamantly Oppose This Bill" (Jim Jesernig,February 6)

Or: Representation without taxation - how much more does the shellfish industry want from taxpayers?

[UPDATE: With shellfish lobbyist Mr. Jesernig's argument that tidelands growing geoduck are small farms - an owner's choice of "current best use" - perhaps county assessors will begin to assess these tidelands converted to aquaculture (geoduck or otherwise) at their true value instead of shifting the expenses incurred by the state to support the shellfish industry onto other taxpayers. At the very least, Thurston County Commissioner Valenzuela (who testified in favor of HB-1437) should consider asking her assessors why an acre of tideland producing over $1,000,000 in revenue every 5 years is only assessed between $2,000 to $8,000 per acre.]

[Updated and clarified - land under the residential structure may be appraised at the "current use" value]
February 6 shellfish lobbyist Jim Jesernig testified before the House Agriculture and Natural Resource Committee, stating shellfish growers would "adamantly oppose this bill" [HB 1437] if aquaculture was not included. What is HB-1437 about? [click here for bill report]

HB-1437 (and its sister SB-5327 in the Senate) is a "current use tax bill" which would allow the land below a residential structure to be valued at its "current use" (i.e., agricultural) instead of its "fair market value" on farms below 20 acres if contiguous to the farmland and integral to the operation. A shellfish farmer would be able to claim land under their residence is part of the "tideland farm", greatly reducing the assessed value of the waterfront parcel.

Currently aquaculture is excluded from both bills with the land under the residence being valued at its true market value. The concern is that a small tideland parcel with a few geoduck planted or a few oyster bags thrown out may allow a significant portion of the waterfront parcel value to be reduced to whatever the "current use value" of "farmland" (tidelands) would be.

Taxes collected from waterfront property are currently one of the largest percentages of income for Thurston and Mason Counties. They could be reduced drastically, shifting that tax burden to other property taxpayers, not to mention create the added expense to track all of this by the already overworked county assessor departments.

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