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:

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Legal and Enviromental Implications of the Washington Shellfish Initiative: Is it Sustainable?

A piece written by Lindsey Ward and published in May of 2014, in the Seattle Journal of Environmental Law, looks at what was then, the first unilateral launch by the executive branch of Washington of the Shellfish Initiative. Almost two years later, in January of 2016, Governor Inslee launched his version, Phase 2 of the Washington Shellfish Initiative. Lost on the now re-elected Governor is:
"...its directives fall far from the Initiative’s claim of enhancing and protecting this valuable resource in a sustainable manner."
The law article notes further:
"Primarily, the environmental consequences of implementing the Initiative pose massive and irreparable consequences for the environment. Specifically, by streamlining the permitting process for commercial shellfish aquaculture, encouraging noncompliant updates of local shoreline regulations, allowing further introduction and cultivation of nonnative species, increasing shellfish density, and failing to adequately address pollution, the Initiative may ultimately cause a loss of many of its native plant and animal species as well as the unique functions they serve."
Developed in the article is the background of the industry, how the Shellfish Initiative came to be, risks inherent to promoting the expansion of an industrial activity within the critical marine ecosystem which the intertidal area makes up, and the interplay between the Shoreline Management Act and Shoreline Master Programs various government entities are required to create through its guidelines.

While written over two years ago, the risks it details are still there and, perhaps most important, on the verge of becoming a reality. "Streamlined permitting" at the local level and minimizing, if not eliminating, national oversight with the new administration are on the verge of opening the door to a massive expansion of industrial shellfish operations throughout Puget Sound, whether in the intertidal areas or massive floating raft structures to grow mussels beneath.

Some will argue with the nuances of legal interpretations presented. Some will argue the article is over two years old and things have changed. What cannot be argued is there is a significant cumulative impact overtaking Puget Sound's intertidal ecosystem which, if not held in check, will forever transform this rare treasure available to all citizens. Questionable "certifications of sustainability" do not make it so.

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