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, January 24, 2014

Reminder: Public Hearing for Seattle Shellfish Hatchery on Harstine Island the 28th

Public Notice for Shoreline Permit for Seattle Shellfish's shellfish hatchery.

Permit #: SHR2013-00013 (reference when communicating)
When: January 28 at 1PM
Where: Commissioners Chambers Bldg 1, 411 North 5th St
Written comments may be sent to: Grace Miller at gbm@co.mason.wa.us, before the hearing. Questions may be answered at 360-427-9670 X360.

Get involved - Seattle Shellfish is, at many levels.
A public hearing will be held January 28, 2014 at 1PM in Shelton, WA to consider a shoreline permit to develop a shellfish nursery on the shoreline of Spencer Cove, located on the northeast end of Harstine Island. Seattle Shellfish and Mason County already have a close relationship, in part through ex-Commissioner Bloomfield, part owner of Seattle Shellfish.

Questions Mason County needs to address include:
1. How will the bridge hold up to the increased industrial traffic? According to Commissioner Sheldon the bridge is "failing." Who will pay for the repairs?
2. Should a permit be issued for a project which requires the use of tidelands whose ownership is in question? (see below)
3. This project is tied directly to Seattle Shellfish's geoduck farming. Included are proposals for geoduck farms directly east from Harstine Island. Should this project be considered in isolation or should the cumulative impacts which will result from the expanded production of shellfish impacting Puget Sound's tidelands also be required?
4. Within Spencer Cove to the north are large areas of subtidal tidelands which are privately held, most leased by Seattle Shellfish. Neither the Corps nor Ecology ever considered the expansion of subtidal planting in their biological opinions or evaluations. Should this project be required to perform a cumulative impact analysis which will result from subtidal planting/harvesting? As an example, in a recent monitoring report on Seattle Shellfish's geoduck nursery rafts they noted "increased turbidity". They note it may have been plankton blooms or runoff from heavy rains. It may also have been from dive harvesting creating sediment plumes. (see below for picture of dive harvesting)
"Overall, attenuation coefficients (see Table 1) were twice as high as those recorded in May. This can be attributed to greater turbidity in the water from recent plankton blooms, which occur more often in summer in Puget Sound. Recent heavy rains may have also contributed to increased turbidity."
5. As noted in the monitoring report, plankton blooms may have been the cause of the lower light. They have also resulted in lower dissolved oxygen in parts of south Puget Sound. Part of the hatchery process includes large tanks of algae used for feeding the "seed" being grown. Where will that excess algae go? It is discharged into Spencer Cove. Given the concerns from lower dissolved oxygen in south Puget Sound from plankton die-offs, shouldn't this cumulative impact on waters of Puget Sound be considered?
6. Should the recent collapse of the geoduck market be considered as a factor in whether this permit is approved or not, and if so, whether it is conditioned to deal with a business failure?
7. Access to the proposed hatchery is along Yates Road, the same as that used to access the state park. How will the increased traffic be dealt with and who will pay for the required improvements?

Jobs are important. So is protecting Puget Sound's tidelands and its waters.
Northeast Harstine Island's lagoon
at the south end of Spencer Cove.
Proposed hatchery within the circle.
(click to enlarge)
Tideland ownership within lagoon in question
Located at the south end of Spencer Cove, the proposed facility is adjacent to a lagoon whose tidelands do not appear to have been sold by Washington. In a 2011 letter from DNR to Seattle Shellfish they noted the state had "never sold the tidleands" (see below). This issue is still unresolved as deeds from the state do not reference any tidelands having been sold.
From DNR to Seattle Shellfish
dated April 15, 2011.

Current use of tidelands
Seattle Shellfish has continued to use the tidelands still apparently owned by Washington and managed by DNR. Information submitted to Mason County by Confluence Environmental Company in August of this year notes it is being used for growing manila clams, oyster culture, and accessing company vessels.
From Confluence Environmental Company
report dated August 30, 2013. 
(Note: Confluence incorrectly refers to the tidal
lagoon as being Spencer Cove. Spencer Cove
is the larger body of water to the north, which
the smaller lagoon is part of, on the south.)
An expanding convenience - and value - for Seattle Shellfish, at the expense of tax payers? 
For Seattle Shellfish, the convenience of being able to use these tidelands to support its geoduck operations cannot be understated. Upland bags of PVC pipe are staged then loaded onto barges within the lagoon where they are then transported to nearby areas of Spencer Cove. There they are inserted into the tidelands, planted with geoduck, and covered with nets (see picture below). With the proposed upland hatchery supplying seed for Seattle Shellfish's geoduck nursery adjacent to the lagoon its convenience - and value - will only increase with time. At the expense of tax payers who appear to still own the lagoon's tidelands.
Spencer Cove Geoduck Farm
(click to enlarge)
Dive harvesting in Spencer Cove
(image created from satellite photo
of barges/divers in Spencer Cove)

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