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, February 13, 2013

Shellfish Politics, Shellfish Initiatives, and the Shoreline Management Act

"The public has no idea how rapidly technology is reshaping aquaculture in the U.S." April 2010 email from shellfish consultant Jack Rensel to NOAA.

Shellfish Initiatives do not have a role in the Shoreline Master Program Updates.
Recent comments from attorneys representing the shellfish industry have claimed many times that NOAA's "National Shellfish Initiative" and the "Washington Shellfish Initiative" are clearly an indication of the importance of the shellfish industry. It adds that Washington's Shellfish Initiative clearly indicates shellfish aquaculture should be prioritized in any Shoreline Master Program update, no matter what the method, no matter where the location. In a letter to the Olympia City Council it states "revisions are also necessary to ensure the SMP Update is consistent with" the National and Washington Shellfish Intiatives. This is fundametally wrong and not what Shoreline Master Programs are supposed to consider.

Look a little deeper.

Oops, didn't I mention that?
What the shellfish industry's attorneys neglect to point out is that beginning in 2010 it was those very same attorneys and industry representatives who began lobbying NOAA to promote their industry through a "National Shellfish Initiative." It is nothing more than the successful result of a well planned lobbying effort.

It is most certainly not an affirmation that shellfish aquaculture should be prioritized in order to dilute the intent of the Shoreline Management Act which says, in part, "...the interests of all the people shall be paramount in the management of shorelines of statewide significance." (Shoreline Management Act)

2010: Shellfish politics create a "swimmable, fishable, and diggable" policy, for their benefit.
A May 2010 letter to NOAA from attorneys at Plauche and Stock, representing the West, East and Gulf Coast shellfish industries states: "We the Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association, the East Coast Shellfish Growers Association and the Gulf Oyster Industry Council are writing to encourage NOAA to develop and launch a national shellfish aquaculture and restoration initiative as a component of, and in conjunction with, the new Aquaculture Policy." Further on, it notes: "A national initiative intended to advance shellfish aquaculture and restoration activities could be a model program that would implement this goal by promoting shellfish culture activities..." Towards the end it notes again: "The national shellfish aquaculture and restoration initiative we propose..."

Prior to this time NOAA had no intention of creating a "Shellfish Initiative," prioritizing shellfish in any manner.

How to create something out of nothing
and make it sound important.

2011: Refining a crafted lobbying effort.
In June, 2011, results of this lobbying effort began further refinement with the shellfish industry sending out "surveys" to growers to help guide NOAA in their creation of the "National Shellfish Initiative." Leading into that survey was:  "In the recently released NOAA Aquaculture Policy you may have noticed reference to a Shellfish Initiative. The Shellfish Initiative was the product of a year-long tri-coastal [East, Gulf and West] effort to get NOAA to recognize that shellfish composes the lion's share of marine aquaculture and we hold great potential for further expansion." In July those results were compiled and forwarded to NOAA who dutifully complied and created a separate "National Shellfish Initiative."

Bill Dewey with Taylor Shellfish
explaining to then Governor Gregoire
why a Washington Shellfish Initiative
would be so helpful to the industry.

2011: Wouldn't a Washington Shellfish Initiative be wonderful?
With continued lobbying, Governor Gregoire was convinced that if NOAA could have a "National Shellfish Initiative" then Washington should have one as well. Fitting with the Governor's attempt to leave a legacy of a "swimmable, fishable, and [now] diggable Puget Sound" she obliged the shellfish lobbyists, and through an executiver order with no legislative oversight, created the Washington Shellfish Initiatve. Funding, direction, policies, and purpose would be left to somebody else to figure out. Lobbyists for the shellfish industry were more than willing to provide that role.

Should initiatives created by lobbying efforts from the shellfish industry be allowed to override the intent of the Shoreline Management Act?
When overwhelmingly passed by Washington's citizens in 1972, the Shoreline Management Act was the culmination of a monumental effort to prevent Puget Sound's shorelines from becoming fragmented through  piecemeal development. At the time, shellfish aquaculture was far different than what we see today. As Jack Rensel said in 2010, ""The public has no idea how rapidly technology is reshaping aquaculture in the U.S." He can add to that, "The public has no idea how rapidly lobbying efforts are reshaping the regulations controlling developments in the tidelands."

Joah Thomas
One of the original drafters of
the Shoreline Management Act.

In 1991, Joan Thomas, one of the original drafters of the Shoreline Management Act stated: “When the SMA was written in 1971, aquaculture meant oysters and clams and one salmon raising operation. This activity was recognized and protected as water-dependent. I do not read the original intent or the original guidelines to promote the industry as we know it today." Ms. Thomas passed away in 2011. What would she say today?

Get involved and help stop the fragmentation of Washington's intertidal area. Groups include APHETI at APHETI@gmail.com (Hammersley, Eld and Totten Inlets) and Case Inlet Shoreline Association at info@caseinlet.org (northern portion of south Puget Sound, including Burley Lagoon).

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