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:

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Washington Department of Health Lifts Closures Due to Vibriosis from Washington Oysters

[Update 10/4: Flooding and heavy rainfall continue to keep some growing areas closed to all shellfish harvesting. As examples, portions of Burley Lagoon, Henderson Inlet, Oakland Bay and Samish Bay remain closed. Recreational harvesters should check the DOH website for updated information.]

On October 1, Washington's Department of Health lifted the closures to commercial harvesting of oysters due to vibriosis which was traced to oysters harvested from the following growing areas in Washington's Puget Sound. Included were:

Burley Lagoon (Pierce County), Hammersley Inlet (Mason County), Oakland Bay (Mason County), Peale Passage (Mason County), Pickering Passage (Mason County), Reach Island (Mason Couty), Totten Inlet (Mason County), Dabob Bay (Jefferson County), and Samish Bay (Skagit County). Popular names of oysters from these areas include "Totten Virginicas", "Pickering Sweets", "Oakland Bay Kumos" or "Hammersley Oysters."

Steps taken to control vibriosis from the consumption of raw oysters harvested by certified growers in Washington continues to fail in its attempt to lower the number of cases. Between 2006 and most recently reported numbers in 2013, cases of vibriosis traced directly to Washington state oysters have risen from just over 50 to near 80, a near 60% increase. The Huffington Post has recently reported vibriosis from oysters harvested from the east coast have also increased.

A naturally occurring bacteria, Vibrio blooms with each summer's warming temperatures. Some have blamed the genetically modified triploid oyster being more "palatable" to consumers during the summer, resulting in an increased number of raw oysters being consumed. Bob Rheault with the East Coast Shellfish Growers Association claims Vibrio may be becoming "more virulent" or the numbers are only "statistical noise."

At the end of October the FDA and industry will meet for the biennial Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference where they will once again attempt to come up with a means to control this increasing number. To date, controls proposed by the FDA have been met with strong resistance from the industry who believe an "economic hardship" will result if the current "reactive" methods in place are changed to a more "proactive" focus (e.g., forcing post harvest processing to kill the bacteria in all oysters harvested during the "no R" months or, in the extreme, banning the sale of oysters from raw consumption during the warm summer months from areas consistently shown to result in vibriosis).

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