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, April 10, 2013

Daylight Minus Tides Begin: Shellfish Attorneys Continue to Fight Regulatory Oversight

Daylight minus tides begin to expose what's been going on in Puget Sound's tidelands, the "most valuable and fragile of its natural resources" (Shoreline Management Act).
April 10, 2013, the first daylight minus tides begin. Geoduck PVC and netting will once again appear as Puget Sound's waters recede, revealing a transformation which could not have been imagined when the Shoreline Management Act was passed in 1971. State and local agencies have allowed themselves to become agents of the shellfish industry's attorneys and contract scientists who fight every attempt to control their developments in the tidelands. [click here for Pierce County's response to the Chelsea Farm/Detienne attorney's demands that conditions be dropped or modified] In the letter is found the pressures county employees are put under by the industry which has evolved and who sees no problem with dropping off over 80 exhibits the day of a hearing, many of questionable relevance beyond creating a burden on those responsible for regulating the industry.
April and May Tide Tables (Olympia) - click to enlarge

Considered a "preferred use" when the Shoreline Management Act was passed in 1971, the shellfish industry has evolved into the very industrial development which the Shoreline Management Act was intended to protect the shorelines of Puget Sound from for the future generations. Instead of small family farms earning a living through spreading oyster shell and spat along the tidelands, creating a natural ecosystem, they have been replaced by large corporations using forests of PVC pipes, netting and growout bags requiring the displacement of all native species in the way.
Harstine Island, south of Wilson Point on Taylor Shellfish tidelands

PVC and growout bags are claimed to provide "structure" for other species. Ignored is that native species are removed before placement of the "structure" and that the "structure" is ripped out after one to two years, creating an additional net loss to the ecosystem. "Tidelands return to a natural state in 6 to 9 months." Seemingly forgotten is they are never allowed to return to a natural state, but instead are placed in a perpetual cycle of creation and destruction of artificial ecosystems. Science? A Master's Thesis is used in place of peer reviewed studies. Peer reviewed study used? One in which geoduck are grown for 1 year (not five), removed, followed by a "pretend" harvest. Is that really what decisions should be based on? 
PVC tubes for geoduck and growout bags for oysters. Natural?
An industry who had once been seen as one of the few providing a means by which the goals of the Clean Water Act could be achieved has become one which fights to control any shoreline developments through regulations, for its direct financial benefit. Creation of wilderness areas is fine, as long as it does not involve their tideland developments. Yet when they are asked to work within those same standards it is somehow a "regulatory burden" preventing "family wage jobs" from being created. Jobs apparently not wanted by the unemployed, or few others. In early 2012, Taylor Shellfish had to let go of 160 employees as the result of an immigration audit. In Washington DC, lobbying efforts for immigration reform continue as the industry cannot find domestic workers it needs.
Taylor Shellfish geoduck farm in Hammersley Inlet.
A benign industry of the past has become one who sees no problem with septic fees being added to shoreline property taxes, already taxed higher than any other property, yet winces when complaints of an acre of tidelands producing over $1 million in revenue is only paying $2 in property taxes, and little else in the way of taxes. Claims of its being a "preferred use" no longer apply to the methods and structures used. It is one which creates "family wage jobs" so disliked by everyone it runs the risk of being shut down due to a lack of documented immigrant workers. And it is one which has no problem demanding state taxpayers pay for water quality monitoring and funding for research to support hatcheries unable to produce non-native species it wants to grow.
The waters recede as the months of summer approach, revealing an industry who would prefer they stay hidden. As the waters recede and expose the reality of what the shellfish industry has become the agencies responsible for ensuring the Shoreline Management Act is implemented as it was intended need to evolve as much as the industry has.

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