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, April 17, 2014

Mason County Lease With Seattle Shellfish: You Don't Always Get What you Want

 "We'll do our best to make sure Mason County
 is compensated more than adequately."
Ex-commissioner Steve Bloomfiled
It just may be less than what you've been told.
19 acre parcel leased to Seattle Shellfish
hard pan, Subtidal, unknown
(map from Department of Natural Resources)
"It's just an estimate..."As reported by Mason WebTV, the Mason County commissioners recently leased 19 acres of tidelands to Seattle Shellfish for geoduck production. At the meeting, Commissioner Jeffreys again stated the estimate of $3 million every 6 years to justify leasing some of the few public tidelands available in south Puget Sound. She was clearly wise to now emphasize it was "just an estimate".
...based on something we don't know.
At that same meeting Steve Bloomfield, past County Commissioner and employee of Seattle Shellfish, began to put that number into question. Mason WebTV records him beginning to backfill the number of acres available for production. He noted that some of the tidelands were "hard pan", some were useable, and some he was not so sure about. Based on the Department of Natural Resource's map it may be far less than anyone expected.

$1.5 million is almost $3 million isn't it?
As seen in the image above, of the 19 acres which the county owns, approximately 50% of it is subtidal. Because those acres were never cultivated they cannot be cultivated now, leaving perhaps 10 acres available for planting. As Mr. Bloomfield pointed out, some of that is "hard pan" and not useable. Optimistically, if 8 acres are able to be planted, Commissioner Jeffreys' $3 million estimate suddenly deflates to a number most likely closer to $1.5 million (assuming 44,000 2 pound geoduck per acre are harvested and sold at $15/pound).
Who gets to clean up?
Geoducks, internet stocks and tulips - speculative markets always collapse. This time it's not different.
The promise of "getting rich" from geoducks has already been put in question after China banned their import from the United States, a ban still in effect. The revenues generated have attracted attention from around the world, increasing supply to a limited demand. New Zealand is testing direct marketing of geoduck to China. Canada is proposing opening its entire western coast to harvesting and cultivating geoduck, detailed in its Integrated Geoduck Management Framework plan (comments are due April 19). Locally, Tribal entities and others are questioning why the vast subtidal tracts harvested by the state are not being replanted as state forest lands are. Geoduck growers are attempting to lock up tideland leases for decades - 32 years in the case of Mason County - through leases which hold them responsible for little should they go out of business.

But you promised me...
It is not sustainable, and as Mason County is finding out, after signing, "the promise" is deflating before its eyes. Private tideland owners and those involved in financing the geoduck industry are wise to question just who "...is being compensated more than adequately." And who will pay to clean up the mess.

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