An English Major and Marine Biologist Disagree
What two years of effort gets you: attorneys and promoters of aquaculture saying no.
July 26th the City Council of the City of Bainbridge Island held a hearing on a proposed revision to its Shoreline Master Program (SMP); a revision which was the result of over two years' effort to address concerns over how to regulate aquaculture (shellfish and net pen fish farming). Two years spent negotiating a balance between agencies, the aquaculture industry, and environmental groups who all had various needs and concerns the Council attempted to address. (See the revision here with words of concern on page 2, point 6.)
We don't know any other way.
Too many watched The Graduate: "One word: Plastics"
Within that SMP revision regulating aquaculture was one line which caused the aquaculture industry great concern: the prohibition of using non-biodegradable materials in aquaculture. That prohibition resulted in industry's attorneys and spokeswoman to testify and write in opposition. In response, others noted the "can't be done" sounded simply like any other industry being told it must stop polluting the environment. (To hear the complete hearing, click here. Ms. Peabody speaks at 1:05:40.)
Executive Director PSRF,
President of Pacific Shellfish Institute
Time to think outside of the plastic bag.
Both verbally and in writing, the industry's spokeswoman, Betsy Peabody (a Stanford graduate with a degree in English) stated there was "no current alternative" to HDPE (high density polyethylene) plastic bags. She compared aquaculture taking place in the critical marine habitat to terrestrial farming and wrote that were it not for aquaculture people would have no "connection to the very resources that help define and sustain" Bainbridge Island, believing somehow that plastic growout bags in the intertidal area was all that made people aware of this incredible ecosystem.
(Ms. Peabody's letter may be found here.)
Plastic in Puget Sound is not restoration nor sustainable.
In response to Ms. Peabody, marine biologist Jim Brennan (with a Master of Science Degree in Marine Science from Moss Landing Marine Labs) wrote in support of the ban. Point by point Mr. Brennan addresses the concerns of Ms. Peabody (no alternatives, the ban would end resident's connection to the tidelands, etc.) ending by noting her using "...her status and organization [Puget Sound Restoration Fund] to lobby for allowances of aquaculture and the use of harmful plastics in the marine environment of Puget Sound." He goes on to note: "It is unconscionable for an organization that claims to be promoting conservation and restoration to also promote practices that degrade, pollute, and are destructive of the marine environment."
(Mr. Brennan's letter to the Council may be read here.)City of Bainbridge Island Contact Information
Let Council members know how you feel.
Jim Brennan – Marine Biological Consultant
Fish BiologistMs. Peabody is also the President of the Pacific Shellfish Institute. PSI is, in large part, an organization using public funds to support the shellfish industry. Projects have included publicly funded surveys to determine attitudes in Washington, Oregon and California about shellfish aquaculture and how best to promote the industry and its expansion. Recent grants have included: $224,000 to study non-native manila clam farm management and harvesting "tools" (a "repurposed" tulip bulb harvester); $295,000 to help expand shellfish culture in seagrass with data to "inform regulatory decisions"; and $392,000 to culture overharvested sea cucumbers, in part to determine if they are able to help mitigate waste from a mussel farm in Totten Inlet and a sablefish farm in Alaska. She is also the Executive Director of the Puget Sound Restoration Fund and a resident of Bainbridge Island.
Jim has a Master of Science Degree in Marine Science from Moss Landing Marine Laboratories and 33 years of work experience. The majority of his work has focused on marine fisheries and habitats on the west coast of the U.S. (California, Oregon, Washington), but ranges from Antarctica to Alaska. Jim has worked in both the private and public sectors with responsibilities that include research, education, environmental assessment, watershed planning, restoration, regulatory, and policy programs. The last 24 years of his career have been spent working in Puget Sound on marine resource management issues with a focus on marine nearshore habitats and species. Jim has served on numerous technical assessment and advisory committees for federal, state, and local entities and as President of the Pacific Estuarine Research Society (PERS) and Governing Board Member of the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation (CERF), an international science organization. Jim is currently self employed, providing technical assistance, education and outreach, and other marine consulting, restoration, and technical services.