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:

Monday, June 15, 2015

Willapa Bay: Can't we just get along? Not if the Sheldon's disagree with you.

[Update 6/17: Oysterville Mirth, which has followed the Oysterville Seafood Farms saga for some time, writes of how Pacific County prosecutors argued before the judge about whether pasta was seafood.]

June 16
South District Court, 9AM
7013 Sandridge Road
Long Beach, WA
Can Oysterville Sea Farms sell jam? Is clam chowder a sea food?

Oysterville Sea Farms: Bad for Willapa Bay?
The Sheldon's believe so.
One Holway sister gets Northern Oyster, 
the other gets Oysterville Sea Farms.

Does that jam have oyster juice in it?
June 16 the long awaited court hearing on whether the historic Oysterville Sea Farms (owned by Dan Driscoll) can be told what to sell by Pacific County will begin. After receiving a 2011 "anonymous complaint" reportedly from Dick Sheldon, Pacific County filed a complaint about food items such as local jams not being "seafood" which was a violation of county code. Mr Driscoll complained that the county does not have the right to tell him what he can or cannot sell. The Holway sisters appear to have married into an unexpected family feud, seemingly in part based on one getting Northern Oyster and the other getting what is now the historic Oysterville Sea Farms (see page 9 of the November 2013 HIPFish Monthly for a brief history).

Sheldon belief: Spray, spray, spray. 
It's my belief and it's the only way.
Imidacloprid - stopped. Imazamox, continues.

Get involved. The Sheldon family is and all they see is spraying of herbicides and pesticides as the way to grow shellfish, and that Oysterville Sea Farms selling jam is a threat to Willapa Bay.
“Get involved in the process. When there’s a public hearing, they have to show up and voice their opinions.” Faith Taylor-Edred, Pacific County's Department of Community Development
Good advice, but it appears in Pacific County involvement by the public has less impact than what Dick and Brian Sheldon want. In a piece written on a hearing about Oysterville Sea Farms titled "Standing Room Only in Meeting Room A" (well worth reading to gain perspective on the forces at play) it was noted:
 "...it looked as though 73 of us were there to support the endeavors of Dan Driscoll and Oysterville Sea Farms.  That left three in opposition."
"You're just a scientist." Yes, but now a judge will hear testimony and make the decision, not Pacific County Commissioners.
At the same hearing, Dr. Alan Trimble, a well known marine scientist from the University of Washington, testified in favor of Oysterville Sea Farms. While long, it is worth the read to gain perspective on how small town politics and family feuds can override common sense. Tomorrow, June 16, we will begin to see if common sense or small town politics prevails in court.

“My name is Alan Trimble. I’m a scientist at the University of Washington. I’ve been working here about a decade now and we live in Nahcotta right across from the port. I’m a marine ecologist. My profession is to worry about the science of water quality and things living in bays, and I’ve devoted a decade to this particular estuary and I have to say it’s a pretty special place – entirely by accident. 

“People will claim that they are responsible for keeping it the way it is, but actually the fact is it’s the way it is because we already removed most of the resources from this place and most of the businesses failed. If you look at ancient pictures of Raymond, South Bend and Nahcotta and Oysterville, there were restaurants, there were bars, there were hotels, there were roads, there was a railroad, and there were several mills all over the bay. There was a very large industrial business, and in fact the Oysterville cannery was in the commercial district of Oysterville. 

“All of it is gone, essentially, and now we’re left with what we’ve got. I completely understand the desire to try and keep working buildings on the water working, given how hard it is to get any new buildings ever built anywhere. It’s very hard. It’s also extremely hard to start up a new shellfish business – the number of permits required and difficult things that people have to do to try and even begin to do any shellfishery in this bay is nearly impossible. 

“So I would suggest that we don’t actually have the problem we think we have. It is not that somebody is here trying to petition this place to put in a WalMart or a power plant or a pulp and paper mill. This is someone who’s operating the one and only (talk about unique!) building of its type on the bay. There are no others. No one else can come through here and petition to change this kind of building (that they also happen to have) into a restaurant, or a place that sells T-shirts, or an art studio, or anything else. There aren’t any other ones. 

“So I don’t see the conflict, frankly. I don’t see the specter on the horizon of hundreds of large businesses coming to the edge of the bay looking to scoop up the last three remaining historic buildings and turn them into some corporate empire. I don’t see it. And I do see that the protections that the federal government has on historic buildings (and there’s a reason why they have them)… it’s almost impossible to keep them standing. Most of those places have to have limited liability corporations and nonprofits to get donations just to keep the building standing. And they have to do all sorts of special events and things to keep those buildings viable and to continue to comply with permits: put in new septic systems, upgrade pilings, whatever it is that they have to do to continue to exist no matter where they are. It’s really expensive, and having a business with only one aspect – let’s say that the only legal aspect was to sell shucked oysters, and that was somehow in the county codes – there wouldn’t be a business standing on this peninsula. If that’s all they did, they’d be gone. 

“People have diversified: they sell clams, they sell crab, they sell salmon, they sell other things to remain viable. I think we’ve all been in the other stores around the bay that sell clams and oysters and soda pop and other things. It’s not a big deal to sell a T-shirt, really, with respect to water quality. 

“So, my two-cents-worth as a scientist is this: Puget Sound is trashed, and will be forever. So is Chesapeake Bay, so is Willapa Bay: if you look at it from the perspective of what it used to be, it is nothing like it used to be. In case you haven’t noticed, there’s almost nothing left of what it used to be, species-wise. It’s dominated by introduced species that we farm, trees that are planted at ridiculous densities to be harvested to make paper, and a few houses. It is nothing like it used to be. 

“My paramount goal as a scientist is to keep this place working as a sustainable community that uses the resources we have and the people we have – jointly – to succeed in progressing into the future. 

“Dan’s business, while it has some warts (it hasn’t been perfect, and I don’t think anybody would say that it has) is a reasonably good model of how to succeed against all the pressures that are out there. I think that I would suggest that this group figure out a way to reach a legitimate compromise to show a model of how a sustainable, small, multifaceted, waterfront business can actually work – because there aren’t any other ones: it’s the only one we have. Right, we have canneries, but nobody can go there and buy anything. We have people that ship to faraway places, but nobody can go to you to buy anything. It’s not a…it’s a different thing: those are industries. This (Oysterville Sea Farms) is not an industry. 

“Finally, I see absolutely no threat whatsoever from this kind of business – in fact this specific business – to the water quality or health of Willapa Bay. I can’t find one. It may be there, but the county has specified an ungodly-expensive septic system, and they don’t pump seawater and they don’t dump fresh water into the bay, and they collect all their garbage and they don’t even have a real kitchen in the building over the water – it’s across the road on land. 

“People walk out on the dock and look around, and sit on decks in chairs, and eat some food and talk to each other, and see the beautiful bay out there, and begin to understand what aquaculture is all about. It’s the only place on the whole bay where they can do that. It’s the only place that you can sit and enjoy eating oysters while you’re watching a dredge dredge oysters in front of your face. And the thought that that’s going to go away and that’s going to be a positive benefit to the bay I think is asinine. 

“So let’s not confuse the issue of whether this is opening the door to the world destroying Willapa Bay. If there was a whole waterfront district like there is in Seattle and Tacoma and Olympia and Chesapeake Bay, with hundreds and hundreds of waterfront buildings out over the water with old pilings rotting into the bay, and somebody was going to bring in a Costco or a Wal-Mart or IBM or Intel and put a factory there, that’s a whole other thing – and I bet you a lot of people would show up at a meeting like this to talk about that. 

“But that’s not what this is about, so I don’t want us to be confused about that.” 

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