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:

Friday, April 12, 2013

Drakes Estero Wilderness: Judge Asks California to Explain Why it Acted Against Drakes Bay Oyster Company's Unpermitted Activites

Better asked: What took you so long?

In the beginning, Drakes Estero supported native shellfish reefs which the shellfish industry overharvested, bringing the populations of native shellfish to near collapse. In their place came artificial grow out bags and racks to grow non-native shellfish. Along with them came an industry who feels they should not be regulated and a company who has chosen to ignore violations.

Drakes Estero National Seashore Wilderness Area

Why are you acting on the violations? Better put, what took you so long to act on these violations?
The Marin Independent Journal reported today that Marin Superior Court Judge Lynn Duryee has asked the California Coastal Commission to explain why it acted against the numerous violations Drakes Bay Oyster Company has incurred over the past 7 years. While the answer is quite obvious - DBOC violated numerous regulations and ignored agreements to rectify them - attorneys have a remarkable way of making the simple become complex. Throw in "selective science" from "contract scientists" on oyster filtration and the waters become even more turbid.

Attorney Zachary Walton,
testifying about
oyster filtration.
scroll to #11 and click on the reel

Drakes Estero is not Chesapeake Bay nor Puget Sound
At the CCC hearing Zachary Walton, attorney for DBOC, tried to explain how if the oysters were removed from Drakes Estero an environmental disaster the likes of which have never been seen in the waters of California would occur. In fact, Drakes Estero is one of the most actively flushed bodies of water in California. It is not Chesapeake Bay, in large part due to the California Coastal Commission enforcing regulations which have prevented problems seen in Chesapeake Bay from occurring in Drakes Estero. Nor is it Puget Sound, a body of water in Washington which has large inflows of fresh water carrying a variety of nutrients.

Environ's selective science on oyster filtration is countered by Dr. Peter Baye.
In a Declaration from Dr. Peter Baye, a coastal ecologist who specializes in restoration of estuaries in Central and Northern California, he states: The open tidal inlet promotes extensive rapid daily tidal flushing (turnover) of the lagoon with clear marine-salinity water. Unlike the large upland inflows of freshwaters from large urban watersheds experienced in Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound, Drakes Estero has very small fresh water inflows, minimizing impacts from upland areas and maximizing effects from tidal flushing.

Shellfish are not the only thing which remove nitrogen from the waters of Drakes Estero.
In Dr. Baye's declaration he goes on to refute Environ's Mr. Luchessa's claim that if shellfish are removed, eutrophication from excessive nutrients would occur in Drakes Estero (presumably what Mr. Walton is relying on when he pleads before the CCC). Ignored by Mr. Luchessa are the effects from denitrification and tidal flushing, both large and significant means by which nitrogen is reduced. Further, the large and substantial beds of eelgrass also absorb nitrogen. In short, you cannot simply state that removing oysters will cause a problem. Even if you are an attorney or a contract scientist.

DBOC grow out bags.

DBOC disturbs sediments all day long, perpetually. 
DBOC attorneys will argue removal of the structures in Drakes Estero used by DBOC to grow its non-native shellfish may create temporary turbidity. However, DBOC's harvesting activities create turbidity problems on an ongoing and perpetual basis from prop wash, picking up growout bags, and hauling out oysters from racks. The impact from removing these structures will be short term, sediments will settle out quickly, and be over within months.

DBOC oysters hauled through the waters
creating turbidity as well as spreading
non-native invasive tunicates they are covered with.

In the end, removal of artificial structures and non-native shellfish will restore Drakes Estero to what it was, allowing native shellfish to re-establish the large reefs which once existed, dismissing any argument of environmental harm.

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