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:

Saturday, August 15, 2015

KING 5 Broadcast: A "Renaissance" in geoduck farming?

A renaissance in geoduck farming?

This renaissance is a bridge which should not be built.
KING 5 News has broadcast their story on geoduck farming, making it available on their web site to view. In the opening they describe the interest in expansion as a "renaissance." Some might question that description, along with attempts to portray it as simply another form of farming, instead saying it is the equivalent of wetlands being drained and built on. The resulting transformation and loss of critical marine habitat will never return to its original state, an assumption made by Sea Grant in their studies which state things return to their baseline when "farming" stops. It does not stop, but continues on in cycle after cycle, one building on the other, like a growing housing development along the shoreline.

"Better ways with less of an impact."
We see what we want to see and 
hear what we want to hear.

It sounds so good. What could go wrong?
In the broadcast Bill Dewey, with Taylor Shellfish, admits their methods were resulting in PVC and nets being scattered throughout Puget Sound's intertidal areas. Something which in the past was minimized by all growers, including Taylor Shellfish, who claimed "beach cleanups" which occur at high tides were not finding anything of significance and "beach patrols" at low tide found whatever else there was. Instead, now,  a "new way" of growing is being attempted - mesh tubes - with the claim it will be better. This despite Seattle Shellfish telling the Corps of Engineers it is not proven enough to stop using netting as the National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS) suggested. The Corps, in an letter to NMFS, states:
"The CR addressing individual tube predator nets and or flow-through tubes will not be implemented because the applicant states canopy netting is often preferred, depending on natural site conditions and characteristics, to ensure there is no escapement of unnatural materials (e.g. tubes) and the applicant has not yet achieved commercial feasibility with mesh style tubing."
Using mesh makes for a good sound bite
but others find it less successful.
Eld Inlet

Mesh netting does not belong in Puget Sound (see KOMO broadcast on recent net removal project here) whether in the shape of a tube, strips, or nets.
Mr. Dewey's description of mesh tubing (aka "flow through" tubing) as a means to address a growing pollution problem in Puget Sound caused from geoduck growers does sounds good. However, based on past experience, the dynamics of Puget Sound, whether waves or current, make these attempts questionable. In Eld Inlet, one grower's attempt to use mesh strips in a figure 8 has resulted in loose mesh strips waving in the waters. Just recently the Northwest Straights Foundation celebrated removing over 5,000 derelict nets from Puget Sound. Is netting in the shape of a tube any better? Is it really any better than loose PVC? We see what we want to see.

Things don't go up forever.

Don't believe it when they say "this is different."
Noted in the article is that the "big demand" for geoduck in China has resulted in the need for the shellfish industry to take advantage of the market, helping them to "diversify" their products. All businesses run in cycles with short supply of a product in demand resulting in an increase in production, leading to an eventual collapse of the market as supply overwhelms that demand. (Alaska and British Columbia are both ramping up their production.) Describing it as being "drought resistant" may be true, but it is a specialty product with one primary market - China. When demand from that market drops for economic reasons, and supply increases, it becomes a market which will collapse, leaving in its wake mesh tubing and geoduck growing in densities in the intertidal area they never grew in, with an ecosystem transformed forever, diminishing Puget Sound's natural capital.

It's the water. And it's changing.

They may be drought resistant, but the water is questionable.
Finally, a recently released study indicates the geoduck growers have more to be concerned about than shoreline owners and environmental activists seeing the growing impact of this industry on Puget Sound's intertidal area. The waters of Puget Sound and the sediments these geoduck are growing in are not as pure as the water from artesian wells which Olympia Beer once used. A recently released study on toxic contaminants in Puget Sound paints a picture which consumers of shellfish grown in Puget Sound should take to heart: 
These findings suggest toxic contaminants are entering the nearshore food web of the Salish Sea, especially along shorelines adjacent to highly urbanized areas. Some contaminants such as PAHs exhibited a wider, less predictable distribution, than the other organic chemicals, perhaps related to sources that may occur on rural or less developed landscapes (e.g., roadways, creosote pilings, marinas, and ferry terminals). We recommend that Washington State develop a long-term, regional, nearshore sampling program using caged mussels as a sentinel species to monitor status and trends of contaminants in nearshore biota. Success of such a large-scale fieldintensive study is predicated on participation by citizen science volunteers to conduct the field work, and by partner groups interested in monitoring pollution in their nearshore areas to maximize spatial coverage in the Sound. 

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