Update 9/1: China’s crackdown on corruption ... has forced a decline in lavish banquets.- In another indication of the risks tideland owners take on when leasing tidelands to geoduck farmers PhysOrg has reported today that China's crackdown on corruption continues to decrease lavish banquets. While the focus of the article is on shark fins sold in China, geoduck are included in that category. It is only the elite in China who are able to afford the geoduck. That price is not sustainable, especially as the younger and more educated population come to realize the size of a geocuck neck has nothing to do with male virility ("There's a virility claim, need I say more?" Wall Street Journal). (See also March 28, 2013 post on how China's new leader, Xi Jinping is impacting the lavish life styles corruption has brought to the Chinese population.)
This isn't going to help you.
Want to help? Consider donating to Case Inlet Shoreline Association who, in partnership with the Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat has appealed four Thurston County geoduck permits before the Shorelines Hearings Board. Donations may be made here:
Neighbors Report Taylor Shellfish Interest
in Fishtrap Delta Area For Future Geoduck Farms
(Note: The above only represents an example
of what 2 tideland parcels planted with geoduck
would look like in the delta area.)
It has been reported that Taylor Shellfish has approached tideland owners north of Fishtrap Loop NE in Olympia about leasing their tidelands for geoduck farms. Ironically, at the same time Taylor Shellfish has begun encouraging neighbors to sign long term leases, they and Arcadia Point Seafoods argued before the Shorelines Hearings Board that their proposed geoduck farms on the Lockhart and Thiesen parcels to the east are small, isolated farms which should not trigger the need for a cumulative impacts analysis.
Note: Taylor Shellfish has apparently offered "tours" of a local geoduck farm to show how minimal the impact is. It is unclear how, with the daylight minus tides of the year now past they intend to do that, unless they have acquired a glass bottom boat.
Taylor's Lockhart and Arcadia's Thiesen
Proposed Geoduck Farms (on the right)
Currently Before the Shorelines Hearings Board
"What's the big deal? It's only 2 small farms."
Agencies should not be blinded by industry projections
Not considering this future and significant expansion in current permitting is exactly what the Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat and Case Inlet Shorelines Association have been pointing to in their presentations on permits before county planning commissions and in their appeals before the Shorelines Hearings Board: shellfish operators have plans for significant expansion. Agencies cannot put blinders on when examples such as this exist. Cumulative impacts from multiple farms operating on multiple schedules create on ongoing impact to Puget Sound's nearshore environment. It is a permanent and ongoing conversion. It is not, as industry likes to describe, a "once every 5 year" event. It is a development of tidelands of a type Puget Sound has never seen before. The area within what we will call "Fishtrap Cove" alone is approximately 10 acres in size.
Welcome to the neighborhood.
"I'm here to stay."
We are too. And so are our children.
"I'm here to stay."
We are too. And so are our children.
"Is this where we're supposed to be planting?"Tideland owners should not be blinded by promises unfulfilled
"Fishtrap Cove" tidelands are made up of 24 separate parcels. Some owners may find Taylor Shellfish's golden promise of "riches beyond imagination" compelling. But they should first realize it is Taylor Shellfish, not them who is becoming wealthy off their tidelands. Taylor Shellfish no longer has any tidelands to develop. Past rates of only 10% grossly undervalue tideland values. Taylor Shellfish cares little for the transformation they and others in the industry are causing. There is, however, a large number who feel the value of Puget Sound's tidelands is not found in the number of PVC pipes you can place in them.
Secondly, for those who find the promise of wealth alluring, they should understand the risk they take on when signing long term contracts for speculative commodities, which geoducks are. When the geoduck market collapses, and it will as production in Alaska, Canada, and elsewhere comes on line, they will not receive those checks to "put your children through college with" or "build your dream home with." They will be stuck with trying to figure out who is responsible for removing the netting and tubes which are abandoned as industry players find they have taken on too much debt. In the mean time, those who chose to convert their tidelands to geoduck production also become responsible for their increased property taxes, something clearly written into the current leases, not the geoduck operators.
Finally, geoduck are not all created equal. Many are not accepted as "Grade 1" geoduck but are instead of far less value. Darker shells, smaller necks, and smaller size all decrease the value received. This was spelled out in a letter years ago from Seattle Shellfish to those it leased tidelands from who wondered why their checks were so small.* Poaching of geoduck, a real and increasing threat no matter what the location, creates additional risk for a smaller check. There are no guarantees the transformation of a tideland will pay for a college education, let alone the increase in property taxes.
*From a letter to those Seattle Shellfish leased tidelands from: "too much seaweed piled up and decaying on the beach can even kill a 3-4 year old juvenile geoduck. There are also significant fresh water inflows, particularly in the winter, ...which can cause significant mortalities for young geoduck . This has resulted in widely varying success from...beach-to-beach" "In general we're seeing darker animals...and a correspondingly smaller prices for harvested geoduck because of the color."
The conversion of Puget Sound's tidelands.
Are state tidelands being removed from the public's use before requiring replanting of subtidal areas stripped of wild geoduck a sign of management or political pressure?
Currently, geoduck farmers are seeking out the few remaining state owned tidelands there are for further growth. Beyond the risk this adds of increased "inventory" driving down prices, it also removes from the public's use those few remaining tidelands available to the public at low tide, whether accessible by boat or uplands. Further, should DNR really consider leasing intertidal tidelands when they are currently stripping geoduck from large subtidal tracts of tidelands and not requiring replanting as they do their forest lands? If a diver is able to harvest geoduck in subtidal waters they surely are able to replant. They do in Canada and Alaska. That would be considered managing state assets for the public, not removing the few public tidelands still available for the public's enjoyment, to benefit a politically astute industry.
You can help by donating time and/or financial resources to those who care about Puget Sound's tidelands. Currently the Case Inlet Shoreline Association is helping ensure the permitting of geoduck farms considers more than what well paid attorneys and contract scientists present to the counties. Donations may be made on their site:
Additional information may be found on the Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat here: