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:
Legislative and Congressional contacts:

Additional information
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/protectourshore
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ProtectOurShoreline

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Pierce County SMP Update: Shellfish Politics At Its Best - Taylor Shellfish is "Troubled"

It is Washington citizens who should be "troubled"
at how Taylor Shellfish views its "rights" to
the intertidal areas of Puget Sound.

Get involved - the shellfish industry is and has the money and motivation.
Tell Governor Inslee Puget Sound's tidelands are not the shellfish industry's playground. The Shoreline Management Act was created in order to protect Puget Sound's habitat from industries like what the shellfish industry has become. He may be contacted by phone at 360-902-4111 or mail at PO Box 40002, Olympia, WA 98504-0002. His shellfish coordinator is Julie Horowitz whose email address is Julie.horowitz@gov.wa.gov

Tell Pierce County they have a responsibility to protect Puget Sound's intertidal habitat for everyone, not just Taylor Shellfish. Pierce County's council member contact information is found here.
"Governor, imagine PVC tubes
as far as the eye can see."

Governor Inslee and Bill Dewey with Taylor Shellfish.

What money can buy: Plauche and Carr - a law firm created by and for the shellfish industry - writes to Pierce County
156 page letter dated September 15 (11mb file), sent to Pierce County from shellfish industry law firm Plauche and Carr notes that Taylor Shellfish is "troubled" over the county's Shoreline Master Program update. It "...suggests that the County revise or withdraw several of the proposed Community Development Committee amendments..." which have recently been accepted. Of those amendments, 8, 9, 10 and 23 are addressed as being "troubling" to Taylor Shellfish. What should be "troubling" is the ongoing press by the shellfish industry to claim rights to all tidelands of Puget Sound for their development through the Shoreline Management Act.
“When the SMA was written in 1971, aquaculture meant oysters and clams and one salmon raising operation. This activity was recognized and protected as water-dependent. I do not read the original intent or the original guidelines to promote the industry as we know it today." Joan Thomas, 1991 (one of the original drafters of the Shoreline Management Act)
The political process at its best
This "troubling" letter should leave little doubt about the political efforts being put forth by the shellfish industry to twist the Shoreline Management Act into something it was never meant to be when it was created in 1971. Protecting Puget Sound's intertidal area from becoming fragmented through modern aquaculture is why the SMA was created - "to prevent the inherent harm in an uncoordinated and piecemeal development of the state’s shorelines."

Taylor Shellfish lobbyist talking about
"structure" and "habitat" which PVC
tubes create on tideland habitat.
Below, structure and habitat on the move
throughout Puget Sound.
A loose PVC pipe, one of many,
taking the barnacles and limpets
on an unintended vacation.

"The public has no idea how rapidly technology is reshaping aquaculture in the U.S." April 2010 email from paid shellfish consultant Jack Rensel, shellfish industry paid scientist, to NOAA.

What troubles Taylor Shellfish?

Special time category of "non-use" for non-conforming aquaculture use and structures
One of the changes asked for is that aquaculture be granted "multiple years" for a non-conforming aquaculture operation to remain "dormant" and still retain its nonconforming use category (i.e., not be required to be brought up to current code). The industry is fine with all other nonconforming uses only having 2 years. Were the attorney's logic to be accepted by Pierce County, virtually any abandoned nonconforming use could have arbitrary "reasons" applied to extend forever the time period during which an abandoned non-conforming structure could be allowed to exist. (e.g., "I was on vacation and just couldn't get around to it.")

Looks "Natural" to Taylor Shellfish.
Is it "natural" to anyone else?

Prohibition of "aquaculture" from Natural Shoreline Environmental Designation is "overly restrictive"
"Shellfish beds should be protected
from upland development."
(proposed Taylor/Seattle Shellfish
"Haley" geoduck farm location)
So this can happen to them.

The industry claims that Natural SED's ("undisturbed portions of shoreline areas" or "ecologically intact shorelines") are perfectly suited for today's modern aquaculture. Whether it be PVC pipes, nets, or mesh bags, the industry sees no problem with these structures fragmenting the areas designated as "Natural". Why? Again, they claim it is a "preferred" use and can result in "long term benefits and protect the shoreline..."
Long term benefit for who?
Protected from what?
Chelsea Farms geoduck harvest aftermath.
Good for the "Natural" SED?

Freshwater stream outlets aren't really that important are they? Their delta areas do make for great geoduck farms - flat and sandy.
Another restriction Taylor finds "troubling" is Pierce County's proposal to prohibit aquaculture in estuaries within 300 feet of freshwater streams. The importance of these rare and unique habitat areas in Puget Sound seems lost on Taylor's quest for use of all tidelands. The importance of these areas being used by migrating salmon, steelhead, or cut throat, whether it be their smolt leaving or the adults returning, to transition from fresh to salt water or salt to fresh water cannot be understated. Yet Taylor believes these area are better suited for acres of PVC pipes, netting and grow-out bags.

Conservancy SED designations do not "permit applicants to streamline applications for multiple sites within a growing area"
Taylor touches on the ultimate goal it is seeking - a "streamlined" application process which requires little effort on their part or oversight of actions by the county. They complain that an Administrative Conditional Use Permit should not be required for farms abutting Conservancy SEDs.  Taylor believes their acres of PVC pipes, nets and other structures used to grow non-native species somehow "protect and restore ecological functions" of these most fragile shoreline areas.

Monitoring of modern shellfish practices not needed, nor is concern over cumulative impacts.
Also found "troubling" to Taylor Shellfish is the county's requiring aquaculture operations be monitored. Again lost on Taylor is the reality that thousands of PVC pipes per acre or tidelands covered with grow-out bags do change the habitat they are in. Claims that it would "burden applicants" and "County staff" only hide the concern of what monitoring will show about the impacts of "modern" aquaculture on the shoreline habitat areas the county is supposed to protect. The same may also be said for the "trouble" Taylor finds in cumulative impact considerations being included, that being many small discrete actions taken as a whole do, in fact, have a significant adverse impact on the intertidal habitat area the county - and the Department of Ecology - are supposed to protect.

And so on - to the shellfish initiatives.
Other "troubles" exist within the 156 page letter but what is also focused on as justification to allow for more "streamlined" permitting and allowing for more tideland area to be developed with structures are the shellfish initiatives, both national and state. Copied below is an earlier post, showing these being nothing more than the results of a marketing strategy which began in 2010. As noted, they should not be used for consideration in SMP updates any more than Taylor Shellfish's web site or advertisements should.

[Note - the following is February 13, 2013 post on the role the shellfish initiatives should play in SMP updates. As pointed out, they are little more than marketing efforts created by shellfish lobbyists.]

Shellfish Initiatives do not have a role in the Shoreline Master Program Updates.
Recent comments from attorneys representing the shellfish industry have claimed many times that NOAA's "National Shellfish Initiative" and the "Washington Shellfish Initiative" are clearly an indication of the importance of the shellfish industry. It adds that Washington's Shellfish Initiative clearly indicates shellfish aquaculture should be prioritized in any Shoreline Master Program update, no matter what the method, no matter where the location. In a letter to the Olympia City Council it states "revisions are also necessary to ensure the SMP Update is consistent with" the National and Washington Shellfish Intiatives. This is fundametally wrong and not what Shoreline Master Programs are supposed to consider.

Look a little deeper.

Oops, didn't I mention that?
What the shellfish industry's attorneys neglect to point out is that beginning in 2010 it was those very same attorneys and industry representatives who began lobbying NOAA to promote their industry through a "National Shellfish Initiative." It is nothing more than the successful result of a well planned lobbying effort.

It is most certainly not an affirmation that shellfish aquaculture should be prioritized in order to dilute the intent of the Shoreline Management Act which says, in part, "...the interests of all the people shall be paramount in the management of shorelines of statewide significance." (Shoreline Management Act)

2010: Shellfish politics create a "swimmable, fishable, and diggable" policy, for their benefit.
A May 28, 2010 letter to NOAA from attorneys at Plauche and Stock (now Plauche and Carr), representing the West, East and Gulf Coast shellfish industries states: "We the Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association, the East Coast Shellfish Growers Association and the Gulf Oyster Industry Council are writing to encourage NOAA to develop and launch a national shellfish aquaculture and restoration initiative as a component of, and in conjunction with, the new Aquaculture Policy." Further on, it notes: "A national initiative intended to advance shellfish aquaculture and restoration activities could be a model program that would implement this goal by promoting shellfish culture activities..." Towards the end it notes again: "The national shellfish aquaculture and restoration initiative we propose..."

Prior to this time NOAA had no intention of creating a "Shellfish Initiative," prioritizing shellfish in any manner.

How to create something out of nothing
and make it sound important.

2011: Refining a crafted lobbying effort.
In June, 2011, results of this lobbying effort began further refinement with the shellfish industry sending out "surveys" to growers to help guide NOAA in their creation of the "National Shellfish Initiative." Leading into that survey was:  "In the recently released NOAA Aquaculture Policy you may have noticed reference to a Shellfish Initiative. The Shellfish Initiative was the product of a year-long tri-coastal [East, Gulf and West] effort to get NOAA to recognize that shellfish composes the lion's share of marine aquaculture and we hold great potential for further expansion." In July those results were compiled and forwarded to NOAA who dutifully complied and created a separate "National Shellfish Initiative."

Bill Dewey with Taylor Shellfish
explaining to then Governor Gregoire
why a Washington Shellfish Initiative
would be so helpful to the industry.

2011: Wouldn't a Washington Shellfish Initiative be wonderful? An Executive Order is created.
With continued lobbying, Governor Gregoire was convinced that if NOAA could have a "National Shellfish Initiative" then Washington should have one as well. Fitting with the Governor's attempt to leave a legacy of a "swimmable, fishable, and [now] diggable Puget Sound" she obliged the shellfish lobbyists, and through an executiver order with no legislative oversight, created the Washington Shellfish Initiatve. Funding, direction, policies, and purpose would be left to somebody else to figure out. Lobbyists for the shellfish industry were more than willing to provide that role.

Should initiatives created by lobbying efforts from the shellfish industry be allowed to override the intent of the Shoreline Management Act?
When overwhelmingly passed by Washington's citizens in 1972, the Shoreline Management Act was the culmination of a monumental effort to prevent Puget Sound's shorelines from becoming fragmented through  piecemeal development. At the time, shellfish aquaculture was far different than what we see today. As Jack Rensel said in 2010, ""The public has no idea how rapidly technology is reshaping aquaculture in the U.S." He can add to that, "The public has no idea how rapidly lobbying efforts are reshaping the regulations controlling developments in the tidelands."

Joan Thomas
One of the original drafters of
the Shoreline Management Act.

In 1991, Joan Thomas, one of the original drafters of the Shoreline Management Act stated: “When the SMA was written in 1971, aquaculture meant oysters and clams and one salmon raising operation. This activity was recognized and protected as water-dependent. I do not read the original intent or the original guidelines to promote the industry as we know it today." Ms. Thomas passed away in 2011. What would she say today?

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