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: https://fortress.wa.gov/es/governor/
Legislative and Congressional contacts:
http://app.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/

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



Thursday, November 20, 2014

Burley Lagoon: Demand Letters Sent to Pierce County and Washington State Attorney General From Coalition Attorney

If you ignore them they will not go away,
they will only become more focused.
 
 In the beginning:
"The purpose of this letter is to request that the Pierce County government [and Washington Attorney General] take action to strictly enforce current Pierce County regulations which prohibit any aquaculture activities on the shorelines of the State without a valid permit, and to impose the appropriate penalties that both State laws and Pierce County -regulations require, including prosecution of responsible Taylor Shellfish Company and/or its employees for a criminal misdemeanor pursuant to RCW 90.58.212." November 18, 2014 letter to Pierce County and Washington's Attorney General from Mr. Tienson

Demands for action will not go away
The Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat, Friends of Burley Lagoon, and concerned individuals have had their attorney send letters to the Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Lindquist, and Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy  demanding action be taken against Taylor Shellfish's unauthorized and unpermitted activities which have been occurring in Burley Lagoon since April of 2012. The letters were written by attorney Thane Tienson, with the law firm of Landeye Bennett Blumstein in Portland, Oregon, and detail how Pierce County has turned a blind eye to citizens' complaints about Taylor Shellfish greatly expanding operations within Burley Lagoon. (attachments referenced in the letters above are found here; individual letters are found by clicking on links above)
 
You wouldn't question grandfather would you?
When Pierce County was asked to produce permits which allowed Taylor Shellfish to expand activities within Burley Lagoon, Pierce County responded: "There are no formal permits to produce as this has been a use that has been grandfathered." For reasons detailed in the demand letters, Mr. Tienson states: "Only the first portion of this statement from PALS is supported by the facts..." (no permits). All Pierce County has on record of something being "grandfathered" is a 1988 letter written to tideland owner Mr. Yamashita (Western Oyster Company) which described "floating oyster culture." However, the letter also states: "should Western Oyster wish to expand the operation in Burley Lagoon, Pierce County will require the obtaining of all shoreline permits and approvals."
 
Just because your car had a current license when you parked it in a garage 5 years ago doesn't mean it's current now.
In December of 2007 Western Oyster stopped reporting any shellfish harvests to Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, something it had done on a regular monthly basis between 1986 and December of 2007, after which nothing harvested from Burley Lagoon was reported until 2012, then by Taylor Shellfish. Washington law is clear in requiring shellfish growers to report their harvests, including registered farm numbers, names of shellfish harvested, and the amounts harvested. Mr. Tienson also notes Washington and County regulations are clear in stating if a "nonconforming use activity ceases for more than one year, any restarting of that activity requires issuance of a new permit under any new rules that thereafter were adopted (WAC 173-27-080; PCC 20.72.060)." Western Oyster ceased reporting any harvests after 2007. Taylor Shellfish cannot, 5 years later, start up a nonconforming activity without permits.
 
He waved his arm and said this is what you are buying. Oops, he didn't own it to sell.
When Taylor Shellfish was found to be growing geoduck on state tidelands in Totten Inlet which it didn't own, they claimed the seller of the tidelands told them it was theirs to sell. This excuse was dismissed by the Attorney General. Likewise, Taylor Shellfish cannot now claim they were an "innocent purchaser" under PCC 18.140.023(D) when they began leasing tidelands in Burley Lagoon.
 
We're just making it disappear or look different, so we don't need a permit.
Part of Taylor Shellfish's unpermitted operations in Burley Lagoon included dismantling many of the >45,000 square feet of floats in Burley Lagoon and replacing a minor amount. Taylor Shellfish did not have the luxury of simply telling Pierce County it was "still within the footprint and use of the historical exemptions." As Mr. Tienson's letter shows with clarity, any exemption which may have existed ended long ago. Pierce County chose not to act, despite citizen complaints of unpermitted activities.
 
Pierce County's gumshoe investigation, without shoes (or gum?).
In June of 2014, Pierce County concluded its investigation of complaints from citizens about Taylor Shellfish's unpermitted activities in Burley Lagoon. At its foundation lay the belief that Taylor Shellfish was already authorized to be in the Lagoon. Had the investigator put on his shoes and taken a walk he would have discovered, for reasons detailed in Mr. Tienson's letter, that Taylor Shellfish had no authorization, permits, nor use rights of any nature to be operating as they were and still are.
 
In the end
In summation, Mr. Tienson ends with this closure:
"In sum, Taylor Shellfish has no authorization or valid permits of any sort which would authorize it to be in Burley Lagoon for any reason, let alone for a large industrial-scale commercial geoduck farm. Pierce County Code and Washington State laws demand that its unlawful operations and activities be halted immediately, that it be required to remove its equipment and materials and floats from the Lagoon, and allow the Lagoon to begin the slow process of recovering to its original condition. Costs for the Lagoon's recovery should be borne by Taylor Shellfish, as required by PCC 18.140.050(G).
 
"Finally, since Taylor Shellfish is in violation of several provisions of State and County law. We also request that any evaluation activity by PALS personnel on Taylor Shellfish's geoduck permit application that is currently under review be halted immediately."
 
It is called Puget Sound, not Taylor Shellfish Sound for a reason
Puget Sound is a treasure providing habitat for a diversity of species, some found only in the northwest. It was not meant to be a habitat for a few large companies to transform, used to create a treasure chest for themselves.






 

No comments:

Post a Comment