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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Monday, August 12, 2013

Shorelines Hearings Board Denies Taylor Shellfish Petition for Reconsideration

SHB tells Thurston County to issue a permit to Taylor Shellfish with a condition of a monitoring plan developed between Thurston County and Taylor Shellfish. In a petition for reconsideration Taylor Shellfish asked for the SHB to accept their contract scientist's monitoring plan. The SHB rejected that petition, but still requires the County to issue the permit. APHETI intends to appeal that decision and ask the Superior Court to deny the permit, as the original examiner and the county commissioners did.
You can help protect Puget Sound by donating to APHETI here: http://www.apheti.org/donation.htm
Taylor's Petition
The Shorelines Hearings Board (SHB) has denied Taylor Shellfish's petition for reconsideration of its decision on its mussel farm in which the creation of a monitoring plan was added as a condition. That plan was to have been developed with the county. In the reconsideration Taylor Shellfish asked the SHB to instead accept a plan developed by its contract scientist. The SHB rejected that idea, telling them it presented new evidence which could have been presented at the hearing and the county was the proper party for developing the monitoring plan, not the SHB.

Impacts Confirmed
Ironic in the petition is that information submitted by their contract scientist clearly acknowledges what the original examiner determined: that cumulative impacts are not adequately dealt with.

One area of concern is the alteration of the sediments below the rafts from the shells and debris which accumulate from the operation. In the petition, it was suggested that instead of "curtains" surrounding only the sides of the individual rafts a bottom net be added and kept in place during the entire grow out period (currently the bottom net is removed a few weeks after mussels are hung). It was felt so doing would prevent shells and debris from falling to the sediments below the rafts. Not mentioned was the debris which these nets themselves accumulate in the form of species which find a convenient surface to begin growing on and in turn fall from.
Note: The contract scientist went so far as to say he believes that below the rafts the currents are so turbulent that the shells, among other things, would be simply carried away or turned into what he calls "shell hash." Perhaps that may be true in the near shore energy of waves rolling onto the shore, but there was nothing to support there being this level of energy below the rafts. Based on this assertion alone Taylor felt simply cleaning the nets would suffice, neglecting to detail how it intended on doing even that.
A further suggestion in the "plan" was related to monitoring periods. Here the scientist believes it would suffice if "...most parameters would be monitored every other year for a total of three of the first five years..." To support this position he compares salmon net pens to mussel farms. While it is true there are nets which enclose each operation, the similarities end there, whether they be the type of species grown or the methods used. It is something  Dr. Corey Goodman would enjoy critiquing in his spare time.
Note: One of the parameters required to be measured is dissolved oxygen, something clearly shown in the original EIS to create an adverse impact especially during the late summer when DO levels in Totten Inlet drop with DO levels dropping below 5mg/L. The contract scientist suggest monitoring every other year "during the summer", believing his "considerable experience" with salmon net farms is all that needs to be said to justify this plan.
One other example of clear impacts is revealed in the contract scientists' comment on Beggiatoa mats which appeared below the existing farms and were a concern to the original examiner. In the case of these mats, he believes they are simply a process due to "...excessive loading of total organic ("TOC") on the sea bottom." Removing it would create turbidity and be a disposal problem. The fact that this excessive "TOC" is a direct result of the mussel debris is seemingly not important or is lost to him.

Spreading Impacts Around Does Not Diminish Them
To drive home the concerns of the hearing examiner who felt that information provided was not adequate to determine if cumulative impacts were dealt with is what to do if "unanticipated impacts" occur. The contract scientist suggests a "reconfiguration of the mussel raft positions", or in other words, to simply spread the impact out over a larger area than that already being impacted.

APHETI To Appeal SHB Decision
The SHB was correct in rejecting Taylor Shellfish's petition. APHETI intends to appeal the reversal of the SHB decision which requires the county to issue a permit, even with the added condition, to Superior Court.

You can help ensure that Puget Sound remains a healthy body of water for future generations by donating to APHETI, at this site:

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