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, August 24, 2015

Puget Sound Shellfish Growers Lobby to Remove Eelgrass Protection

"Jump!" "Yes sir! How high?"

Puget Sound Shellfish Growers to lobbyist - We will pay you well to convince Washington's legislative representatives to tell the Army Corps to eliminate this protection for eelgrass:

For continuing activities in ‘fallow’ areas, those activities shall not occur within 16 horizontal feet of native eelgrass (Zostera marina). If eelgrass is present in the vicinity of a fallow acreage proposed for shellfish activities, the eelgrass shall be delineated and a map or sketch prepared and submitted to the Corps. Surveys to determine presence and location of eelgrass shall be done during times of peak above-ground biomass: June – August. The following information must be included to scale: parcel boundaries, eelgrass locations and on-site dimensions, shellfish activity locations and dimensions.

Washington environmental groups, including the League of Women Voters, band together and ask representatives (see complete letter here):

Specifically, we are asking you to immediately retract your request to remove Condition 7 from the Programmatic Biological Assessment (PBA) for aquaculture permitting currently being developed by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Eelgrass - a critical habitat to everyone.
Except the shellfish industry.

Money solves everyone's political problem.
The shellfish industry of Washington has successfully enlisted Washington DC lobbyists to convince legislative representatives that protection of eelgrass should not be a priority. Using their own definition of what a "fallow" tideland area is, and creating a false description of what "Condition 7" would actually do, the Seattle Division of the Corps was forced to remove the protection to eelgrass which the above paragraph would have provided.

Eelgrass can grow here?

Voters solve problems with representatives beholden to lobbyists.
In the letter to the Corps the Washington delegation claims falsely that aquaculture has "... successfully co-existed with eelgrass for over one hundred years." This is patently untrue. Anyone who has witnessed acres of plastic grow-out bags on the tideland sediments has seen the complete lack of aquatic vegetation which exists. Anything which may have grown on the bags is either washed off or removed during harvest. Any eelgrass, or other aquatic vegetation, which may have existed is simply scoured away. Areas under longline/raft facilities are shaded, preventing growth, and when coupled with shells which drop off, are simply a dead zone beneath them. A recent permit for a subtidal geoduck farm adjacent to eelgrass beds in south Puget Sound was rejected due to its impact on eelgrass.

Our well being is more important than critical marine habitat.
In the letter from the congressional delegates to the Corps the Puget Sound shellfish growers are clear in what they care about - their profitability and ability to make more money at the expense of Puget Sound's critical marine habitat. The letter states:
"We are concerned that if Condition #7 were to go into effect, current shellfish operations would be adversely impacted and the continued growth of the shellfish industry - and the thousands of jobs it supports - could be negatively impacted."
You don't always get what you want.
Sometimes in business there are things more important than the profits a company makes. Whatever the false narrative created by the shellfish lobbyists, the reality is eelgrass is a critical marine habitat. It does not co-exist with the industrial level of shellfish production which now exits and which is proposed. It is why docks are heavily regulated. It is why bulkheads are heavily regulated. It is why any overwater structure is heavily regulated. It is why shellfish aquaculture needs to be brought under control. It has certainly played a role in Washington's history. But it is not "vital" nor is it the only reason tidelands were sold.

Get involved. Puget Sound is not a factory for producing shellfish.
The following groups have demanded eelgrass protection be put back in place. You can as well.
League of Women Voters of Washington; Sound Action; Washington State Chapter of the Sierra Club; Friends of the San Juans; Coastal Watershed Institute; Black Hills Audubon Society; Audubon Washington; Tahoma Audubon Society; Orca Network; Resources for Sustainable Communities; Wild Fish Conservancy; and, Seattle Audubon Society.

Legislators who sent the letter and should be contacted were:
(additional contact information may be found here: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials)
 Senator Patty Murray 154 Russell Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510
Senator Maria Cantwell 11 Hart Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510
Representative Suzan Delbene 18 Cannon House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515
Representative Rick Larsen 113 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515
Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler 130 Longworth House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515
Representative Dan Newhouse 641 Longworth House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515
Representative Cathy McMorris Rogers 203 Cannon House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515
Representative Derek Kilmer 1520 Longworth House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515
Representative Jim McDermott 1035 Longworth House Office Building Washington, D.C 20515
Representative Dave Reichert 1127 Longworth House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515-4708
Representative Adam Smith 2264 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515
Representative Denny Heck 425 Cannon House Office Building Washington, DC 20515

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