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.

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Friday, March 15, 2013

Seattle Shellfish Tries to Break Away with New Hatchery

Proposed location of
Seattle Shellfish hatchery.
(click to enlarge)

In an apparent attempt to break the ties to geoduck seed suppliers which Seattle Shellfish is dependent on they have proposed locating a new shellfish hatchery on Harstine Island's Spencer Cove. [click here for permit] Located adjacent to a small pocket estuary* the facility would allow Seattle Shellfish to better control its production and perhaps reduce costs.

(*The pocket estuary's ownership is in dispute. Washington never transferred the tidelands to private ownership. Previous owners assumed they had owned the pocket estuary's tideland area, and Seattle Shellfish assumed they had acquired them. However, this was not the case and is another example of tideland ownership challenges. DNR has yet to resolve the issue. From use of the area by Seattle Shellfish it appears they are happy to wait for DNR to act.)

Satellite view showing current use,
including bagged PVC pipes (lower left)
used for planting. The tidelands seen
in the right half are still state owned.
(click to enlarge)

There are currently a limited number of hatcheries which supply geoduck seed to Puget Sound growers. Taylor Shellfish and the Lummi Tribe are the dominant two. If they chose not to sell seed to a grower that grower is unable to "plant" geoduck during the limited windows when the south Puget Sound tides are at their lowest levels. Perhaps also driving the decision is the subtidal commercial geoduck farm proposed by the Detienne family and Chelsea Farms in Pierce County.

Subtidal area of Spencer Cove
owned by Seattle Shellfish.

In the case of Seattle Shellfish, they are one of the few tideland owners whose tidelands extend into the subtidal area. Those areas have not yet been exploited as they currently are in Alaska and Canada. Should Seattle Shellfish wish to expand operations into that subtidal area there most likely would not be a sufficient source of seed for them to do so. Should the Detienne permit in Pierce County be approved, or should the state require replanting after their subtidal harvesting, it would open significant areas for commercial subtidal planting leading to an increase in seed demand. When Combined with recent permit approvals likely to expand significantly the tideland areas growing geoduck it is easy to understand the concern Seattle Shellfish has over controlling seed supply.

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