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: https://fortress.wa.gov/es/governor/
Legislative and Congressional contacts:

Additional information
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/protectourshore
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ProtectOurShoreline

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Thurston County is Targeted By Geoduck Farmers

Better Duck if you live in Thurston County 
The latest county to be targeted for expansion by geoduck farmers is Thurston County. Located in south Puget Sound, Thurston County has seen a number of proposed or actual applications for geoduck farms in the south Puget Sound area. The most recent is an expansion of operations by Greg Reub, currently employed by Eco Analysts, Inc. Previous employment history of Mr. Reub included Environ (now part of Ramboll), a firm who performed numerous studies on geoduck aquaculture, intended to show impacts were not significant. Studies still quoted today and studies which Mr. Reub benefits from directly. [A public hearing on Mr. Reub's proposal will be held September 26. To be put onto the notification list, contact Leah Davis at davisle@co.thurston.wa.us]
(In addition to Mr. Reub, Dr. Fisher and Marlene Meaders were also past employees of Environ, the latter two co-authoring numerous papers on geoduck farming and the application of the herbicide imazamox in Willapa Bay. Dr. Fisher, as with Mr. Reub, benefits directly from positive outcomes of papers he authored on geoduck farming as he too operates a geoduck farm, close to that currently operated by Mr. Reub and close to where Mr. Reub proposes to expand his operations. Dr. Fisher, after leaving Environ, worked for the National Marine Fisheries Services - NMFS - who provided Biological Opinions to the Army Corps on their proposed Nationwide Permits covering aquaculture.)
An existing navigational hazard,
with another proposed.

Showing some mussel
In addition to Mr. Reub's proposed expansion, Chelsea Sea Farms is also proposing a 10 acre operation in Gallagher Cove near where Taylor Shellfish is planning on placing 58 rafts in Totten Inlet. At appeals and hearings for the Taylor Shellfish proposal there was no mention of any geoduck operation so close and what the cumulative impacts may be from the two operations may be, not to mention Mr. Reub's proposed expansion just north. The common refrain from attorneys at the hearings and appeals was that any expansion of aquaculture was simply "conjecture" and should not be considered. Therefor, Thurston County did not consider any of it and simply relied on an overwhelmed staff and papers, including those authored by Dr. Fisher and Mr. Reub.

One word - plastics
The Graduate could not have had a more applicable scene when Dustin Hoffman was told by Mr. McQuire what to do with his life after graduation: "I just want to say one word to you. Just one word....Plastics. There's a great future in plastics." Who would have thought plastics covering Puget Sound's intertidal tidelands would have been the future that unfolded.

Get involved. You will make a difference for the future generations.
The shellfish industry has been for years. Lobbying, free shellfish fests, donations to non-profits, and authors of papers who have clear conflicts of interest have all resulted in an impending expansion throughout Puget Sound and Willapa Bay. You can help by donating to the following:

Consumers for Food Safety [click here]
Tell your elected officials enough is enough.
Governor Inslee: https://fortress.wa.gov/es/governor/
Legislative and Congressional contacts:
Thurston County Commissioners

Friday, August 11, 2017

Aquaculture's Impacts: Center for Food Safety Sues Army Corps Over Lack of Regulatory Oversight

What could go wrong? The more the better.
Good for the profits of a few,
bad for all who care about 
Washington's marine habitat.

The Center for Food Safety filed a lawsuit August 10 against the Corps of Engineers' decision to issue 2017 Nationwide Permit 48 covering aquaculture activities, asking the courts to:
 (1) declare the Corps’ decision to adopt 2017 NWP 48 in Washington State is unlawful under the CWA, NEPA, and arbitrary and capricious, in violation of the APA; (2) set aside or vacate the Corps’ March 17, 2017 decision to adopt 2017 NWP 48 in Washington (effective March 19, 2017); (3) declare that the Corps, prior to adopting any new NWP for commercial shellfish aquaculture, must comply with NEPA, including the preparation of an EIS, and the CWA, including the requirement that any general permit not cause more than minimal adverse individual or cumulative impacts to Washington’s aquatic environment. 
Read US News article here:
Read article in The Olympian here:

Good old boys, slapping the backs
of politicians, paying a dollar here and there,
with a free oyster or two. It goes a long way.
(2016 lobbying visit by shellfish growers in DC)

In the papers filed, the Center pointed out one of the most glaring assumption swallowed by the Corps at the behest of the shellfish industry, defining a "new" operation:
The revised definition of “new” makes all operations “existing” so long as any commercial shellfish aquaculture took place in the area in the last 100 years. This would allow an operation in 2018 to be considered “existing” and thus avoid restrictions on “new” operations if, for example, oyster culture was conducted in 1919, with nothing in between.
Individual discrete parcels are becoming
one large area with multiple harvesting
cycles impacting the marine habitat
on an ongoing basis. 
Cumulative impacts matter.

Kao Torgeson Roosa - Pierce County, Public Hearing September 27, 9AM (Confirm with Ty Booth at ty.booth@co.pierce.wa.us or 253-798-3727)
Cumulative impacts matter and isolated events do not represent impacts adjacent operations create or vastly increasing operations creates. Throughout Puget Sound alone, what had been individual parcels are now becoming one large contiguous operation. These operations operate on multiple cycles creating an ongoing impact to the marine habitat on a scale not studied. One example is in Pierce County where two previously separate parcels operated. Now before the County is a permit request which would result in one large contiguous parcel. In Burley Lagoon, Taylor Shellfish is proposing a 25 acre operation. Thurston County has a 10 acre operation proposed by Chelsea Sea Farms and numerous smaller parcels. As noted in the papers filed, cumulative effects is defined as:
the changes in an aquatic ecosystem that are attributable to the collective effect of a number of individual discharges of dredged or fill material. Although the impact of a particular discharge may constitute a minor change in itself, the cumulative effect of numerous such piecemeal changes can result in a major impairment of the water resources and interfere with the productivity and water quality of existing aquatic ecosystems. 
Get involved and help support Center for Food Safety's efforts.
The papers filed go in to great detail about the current and future adverse impacts which will result directly from the Corps's issuing the 2017 Nationwide Permit 48 covering aquaculture. While lobbying over the past 3 years was effective in minimizing regulatory oversight of the shellfish industry by the Corps, that does not mean it should be accepted. You can help ensure the future of Washington's marine habitat will be protected by helping.
Read the Center's release here: 
Donate to the Center for Food Safety here:
Read the suit filed here:

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Taylor Shellfish Settles EEOC Discrimination Lawsuit for $160,000; New Training; and New Policies

Taylor Shellfish Settles EEOC Lawsuit over Race Based Discrimination 
(see EEOC lawsuit papers filed here)
U.S. District Court Judge Richard Jones has agreed to terms settling a discrimination lawsuit against Taylor Shellfish, filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for past employee Jeremy Daniels, an African American. Terms include payment of $160,000 and, of note, instituting new training and policies.

In papers filed September 28, 2016 the EEOC alleged that:
Defendant Taylor Shellfish Company, Inc. (“Defendant”) subjected Mr. Daniels to a hostile work environment based on his race, Black. The EEOC further alleges that Defendant retaliated against Mr. Daniels for opposing the discriminatory hostile work environment. Finally, the EEOC alleges that the discrimination Mr. Daniels suffered resulted in his constructive discharge. Plaintiff seeks monetary relief for Mr. Daniels, including non-pecuniary compensatory and punitive damages, and injunctive relief.

Details of the discrimination experienced described in the lawsuit included:
...subjecting Mr. Daniels to frequent, offensive and unwelcome race-based conduct including: referring to Mr. Daniels as "spook," "boy," "nigger," and "nigga"; telling Mr. Daniels that that the Maintenance Mechanic Supervisor's father used to run his "kind" out of town; and making disparaging race-based comments about the things that Mr. Daniels would eat.
In addition, the lawsuit noted that when Mr. Daniels complained about the "racially hostile" environment:
Defendant, [Taylor Shellfish] through the actions of the Maintenance Mechanic Supervisor, assigned Mr. Daniels more difficult and less desirable work, referred to him as a "nigger," "stupid," and "idiot" when talking to other employees, and eventually caused Mr. Daniels to be disciplined unjustly.
Settlement Terms
The settlement  terms include paying Mr. Daniels $160,000. In addition, Taylor will now have to institute new training and policies, something which Taylor had already done when being considered for "responsible" operations certification by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) in 2016, but which were apparently not sufficient.

ASC Certification is Not Good Enough for Judge Jones
Apparently, Judge Jones and the EEOC did not find Taylor's actions taken when seeking certification by ASC as a "responsible" company good enough. In 2016, ASC found that discrimination existed within the Taylor operation. In response, Taylor presented steps taken, including training and policies, which ASC was satisfied with. Judge Jones, as noted, apparently did not find them good enough for the case before him. Presented to ASC, and what ASC found acceptable for its "responsibility" certification of Key Peninsula are farms was:
All farm managers participated in HR training, including anti-harrassment. HR will maintain documentation on all discrimination and harassment complaints and any followup actions taken. They will work with Farm Directors and Ownership to ensure that policies are known and followed. HR Contacts have been distributed company wide via employee newsletter insert into paychecks and posted on all employee bulleting boards. Farm crews may utilize HR as an option in lieu of direct supervisor of Farm Director.
It is unknown what Judge Jones found lacking in Taylor's current policies, those policies which ASC apparently found to be good enough for them.

Contact EEOC if you are being discriminated against. It is against the law.
(click here for EEOC web site contact information)
The EEOC is in place to help ensure that company policies and actions taken by employees do not discriminate against you. Their website encourages anyone who feels they have been discriminated against to contact them. You don't have to put up with it. Especially when shellfish companies claim to provide good family wage jobs.

*Update 7/30: Despite the EEOC lawsuit in 2016, which ASC's evaluation firm was aware of, the evaluation of the Samish Bay "cluster" simply noted: "The company has a comprehensive anti-discrimination policy. The auditor also observed a diverse work force." It also noted "Discrimination training had begun for managers, although the effort was discontinued. As a result, an unknown number of managers and no employees have received such a training." With this, Taylor's anti-discrimination policy was found to be "Conforming with Observations". As noted above, the EEOC and Judge Jones felt quite differently.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Off Topic: Body of Tomales Bay Oyster Owner is Recovered from Tomales Bay

The body of Tod Friend, owner of Tomales Bay Oyster Company, was recovered from Tomales Bay. Mr. Friend was last seen heading out into Tomales Bay in his small flat bottom skiff, the latter found going in circles without Mr. Friend on board last Tuesday. The 70 year old was reported to have not been wearing a life jacket, a tragic lesson all should take to heart. Our sympathies go out to his family.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

California to Consider Aquaculture Industry's Development of Best Management Practices Plans

When: July 17, 1 PM to 3 PM
Where: Marconi Conference Center, Buck Hall
18500 Shoreline Highway (SR 1)
Marshall, CA 
*Note building change due to large interest.
(See map below)
What: Consider development of "Best Management Practices Plans" (BMPP)
Why: Currently, amending leases is considered to be an "excessive administrative burden" by agencies and growers.

allow different species to be cultivated 
or culture method to be changed
Should changing from growing clams in the sediments
to oysters in suspended cages require an
amendment to the lease or merely 
industry developed BMP Plans?

PIA - Politics in Action: BMPP's
California's Natural Resources Agency (CA Fish and Game Commission and the CA Department of Fish and Wildlife) will hold a meeting on July 17 from 1 PM to 3 PM to consider whether they should allow the aquaculture industry (and possibly public - if involved) to develop "Best Management Practices" (BMP) plans (BMPP). These broad based plans would be reviewed, perhaps every 5 years, and allow for changes in species grown and methods used without lease ammendments. Currently, when an operator wishes to change a species grown or a method used, a lease must be amended. The analysis which precedes the amendment has been described as being "an excessive administrative burden" (EAB).

California Aquaculture
without BMP Plans
(Tomales Bay, 2014 before public pressure rose 
forcing growers to clean up derelict gear.)
From the Coastodian

Washington Aquaculture 
with BMP and ECOP

Public resources will only be protected if the public is involved.
Get involved. This is a political process which can be easily bent to placate an industry's desire for expansion with less oversight. BMP's in Washington's Puget Sound result in loose PVC pipes, despite 10 years of "BMP" and "Environmental Codes of Practice" (ECOP). Navigational hazards continue to impact the public's use of navigable waters in areas of Puget Sound. Nighttime noise continues to disrupt residential neighborhoods, despite "good neighbor" plans. This is an industry made up of a few large corporations which is motivated and well funded, who wants to expand into critical marine ecosystems. If they are allowed to develop "BMP Plans" without public involvement there will be irreversible impacts. Get involved. Washington's residents weren't and are now picking up the pieces.

California - Consider these examples of the shellfish industry in CA. Then act.
One merely need look to Drakes Estero for an example of what happens when an operator's lease ends, leaving taxpayers to clean up the mess. One only need look to Humboldt Bay to see what the industry wants with Coast Seafoods' proposed expansion (a permit denied) into the native eelgrass beds to grow non-native oysters, and the cleanup the state is requiring because Coast was unable to on its own. Consider these examples and that actions now being taken elsewhere are only being done as the direct result of public pressure from a few. 

Meeting Location

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Puget Sound Is Under Stress: Help Protect Native Species and Preserve and Restore Puget Sound

"Don’t buy the lies and bullying tactics of the industry spokesmen who sit on our local boards and collect their paychecks while trying to buy us off with a few clams, like their forefathers did with the Tribes over the centuries." Olympic Peninsula Environmental News

2/3 of killer whale pregnancies fail -
because of low availability 
of Chinook Salmon.

Our Sound, Our Salmon - Stop Net Pen Expansion in Puget Sound
While a fitting quote to why the intertidal tidelands are being allowed to be transformed into industrial facilities requiring little regulatory oversight, the above quote is in reference to another threat to Puget Sound: Salmon net pen farming. These large enclosed pens concentrate non-native salmon in densities so high that threats from disease and sea lice raise the risks to our native salmon, and the Orca who depend on them, to an unacceptable level. As with shellfish aquaculture, painting these operations as being nothing more than "farming" ignores the very real differences between terrestrial farming (on land) versus activities taking place in a marine ecosystem.

Washington is the only West Coast State to Allow Net Pen Farming
Alaska, Oregon and California have banned net pen farming. Our Sound, Our Salmon is now demanding that Governor Inslee stop following industry's lead and instead take a stand with those who believe there is more to Puget Sound than its ability to generate profits for corporations in the aquaculture industry. [Sign the petition here] They write:
"Puget Sound is our Sound. The salmon that swim in its waters are our salmon. They have been the lifeblood of our past, and they will be the lifeblood of our future.

"Cooke Aquaculture, an Atlantic salmon net pen conglomerate, is threatening the health of Puget Sound with their plans to further transform it into an epicenter of Atlantic salmon net pen production. We cannot risk putting our Sound, our salmon, and our future into the hands of an industry with a long history of negative environmental, social, and economic impacts - impacts that led California, Oregon, and Alaska to wisely ban this industry.
"It’s time for us to stand up for our Sound. It’s time for us to stand up for our salmon. And it’s time we stand up for our future by stopping the expansion of destructive Atlantic salmon net pens in Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca." Our Sound, Our Salmon
Infected fish? Just dump them. After they've
been shedding virus for months.  
Get involved and get educated
"In Puget Sound, the potential for catastrophic damage to wild fish populations as a result of Atlantic salmon net pens has already been demonstrated. In 2012, an outbreak of Infectious Hematopoietic Necrosis Virus (IHNV) caused the death of over 1 million pounds of net pen salmon. Worse still, this outbreak occurred during the time of year juvenile salmonids are migrating out to sea through Puget Sound." (KING5 - see video clip of news here)

Land based systems exist.
"The quality of the fish is extraordinary, the taste is great,
the look of the fish is fantastic."
Ned Bell, Chef at Four Seasons Hotel, Vancouver BC

You don't need pesticides, antibiotics, nor Puget Sound's open waters
"Kuterra is proof positive that you can grow Atlantic salmon on land in a sustainable and economical way. If Washington wants to increase farmed salmon production, we should do it by helping pioneer a burgeoning, environmentally responsible industry of land-based systems like Kuterra." (See Vimeo clip of Kuterra's upland operation here
Upland operations, currently operating profitably, separate the "farmed environment from the wild environment." At the same time they also provide a product which is free from pesticides and antibiotics which most consumers do not believe should be in seafood they consume. (See public response when pesticides in Willapa Bay in 2015 were proposed by shellfish growers here

Genetics at its best.
Disease at its worst.
from Alexandra Morton)

Is this really what you want to be eating? 
"On August 23, 2016, Alexandra Norton put a GoPro on a pole and submerged it for ten minutes in a salmon net pen run by Marine Harvest. This video is a compilation of what she saw – large numbers of farmed salmon likely suffering from viruses and Atlantic salmon preying on juvenile wild fish." To get a sense of what the reality of "open net pen" salmon are, look at the short clip taken by Alexandra Morton when cruising on the Sea Shepherd in British Columbia

Get involved so future generations
are able to experience Puget Sound.
Photo: Heather MacIntyre/The Pacific Whale Watch

Get involved. Tell Governor Inslee there is far more to Puget Sound than the ability to make a profit from open water net pens growing non-native salmon. If you don't 
Sign the Our Sound, Our Salmon petition here:
or, Email the Govenor directly:

Friday, June 30, 2017

Imidacloprid Pesticide in Willapa Bay Again: The Dirty Dozen (or so) Who want to Apply Pesticides to Shellfish Beds in Willapa Bay

These are not terrestrial farms.
These are tidelands
over which public waters ebb and flow.
WGHOGA wants to apply neurotoxin
into those waters.

Get out or our way and let us spray pesticides into Willapa Bay's waters and on shellfish beds.
The Willapa Grays Harbor Oyster Growers Association (WGHOGA) has asked the Department of Ecology to move forward on their application to apply the pesticide Imidacloprid, a neonicotnoid, into Willapa Bay again. A public outcry stopped the ill thought proposal in 2015 (see May 3, 2015 Seattle Times article on cancellation of permit here). Should promoters of clean water also be promoting the application of pesticides (Imidacloprid) and herbicides (Imazamox to kill Japanese eelgrass) into Willapa Bay? The growers below see nothing wrong with that dichotomy. (Click here for DOE public notice of moving forward with permit.)

Who is WGHOGA?
The following are either members of WHGOGA or are companies, families or individuals who have Willapa Bay shellfish beds onto which which they will be applying Imidacloprid, directly or in the waters above them. 

They include:
Goose Point Oyster and Nisbet Oyster - The Nisbet family
New Washington ShellfishWiegardt BrothersWiegardt and Sons, Wiegardt Oysters and Jolly Roger Oysters - The Wiegardt family
Heckes Oyster Company, Heckes Clam Company - The Heckes family
Bay Center Mariculture - Dick Wilson
Olson and Son - Phil Olson
Willapa Fish and Oyster - Eric Petit
Herrold Fish and Oyster - John Herrold
Willapa Bay Shellfish - Warrnen Cowell
Long Island Oyster and Station House Oyster - The Kemmer family
Kim Patten - WSU scientist who has supplied a vast amount of information to support this project will be a direct beneficiary through profits from shellfish grown on his tidelands.
*Taylor Shellfish and Coast Seafoods both claim not to be involved, yet still remain members of the WGHOGA.

Parcel ownerships below are based on Pacific County and DOE information. Based on County records it is believed to be accurate. Not all owners are shown.

North Willapa Bay - 100 acres 
(click on image to enlarge)
Central Willapa Bay 1 - 335 acres (1+2)
(click on image to enlarge)
Central Willapa Bay 2
(click on image to enlarge)
South Willapa Bay 1 - 50 acres (1 and 2)

(Note: Kim Patten is the WSU extension agent
who has performed numerous studies
which support the use of Imidacloprid
on shellfish beds.)

It's not dirt. These are tidelands supporting native species and threatened Green Sturgeon over which public waters ebb and flow.
These are not terrestrial farms - this is a critical marine habitat over which public waters ebb and flow. It is a habitat which supports native species, including burrowing shrimp, which are a food source for many other species, including the Green Sturgeon, a species considered "threatened" and whose protected habitat includes Willapa Bay. The oyster the growers wish to grow is an invasive species from Japan, the Pacific oyster, called a "weed" by Bill Dewey with Taylor Shellfish (“The Pacific oyster is kind of the weed oyster of the world,” Bill Dewey, crosscut.com, June 6, 2016). This habitat is no less critical than  wetland and should be recognized as such. 

Make a difference - Don't buy oysters from Willapa Bay or from those who support this proposal or who are members of WGHOGA. There are alternatives.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Hot Weather, Lowest Tides of the Year Raise Risk of Vibrio in Puget Sound Oysters

Get out and enjoy the low tides.
But be careful what you eat.

Saturday (June 24) and Sunday (June 25) will see tides 3.9 feet below average in south Puget Sound. Temperatures are forecast to be 90 and 93 degrees, respectively. The combination, however, leaves oysters out of water, exposed to the hot summer heat for so long that the naturally occurring bacterium Vibrio parahaemolyticus (Vp), filtered from the water by the oysters, grows at an accelerated rate inside of them. 

Historical outbreaks of vibriosis traced to oysters harvested from Washington state has already lead the Department of Health to issue its "vibrio advisory" warning for shellfish harvested from Hood Canal, Oakland Bay, Hammersley Inlet*, Totten Inlet, Eld Inlet, Pickering Passage, northern Case Inlet, North Bay and Burley Lagoon. It has also lead to more stringent rules surrounding harvesting, ranging from "time to ice" to complete closure of growing areas if water temperatures reach a certain level.

The Department of Health recommends you eat only well-cooked shellfish, especially in summer months, going further to say: "Do not consider shellfish to be fully cooked when the shells just open; they need to cook longer to reach 145° F." For additional information see the DOH website on vibriosis.

Get out and enjoy the low tides and warm weather this weekend. It won't get much better.

*Earlier in the year, oysters harvested from Hammersley Inlet were declared to be the source of norovirus, causing multiple illnesses and closure of commercial harvesting in the area. While the source has not been discovered, shellfish growers point to Shelton's waste water treatment facility which discharges directly into Hammerlsey Inlet and Oakland Bay. The City of Shelton denies its facility was the problem, claiming to have met all Department of Ecology standards.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Changing Times: Pyrosome "Explosion" off of the West Coast is Unprecedented and Unexplained

From one...
..come many.

Colonizing the waters of the world.
In a little noticed article written by northwest environmental reporter Chris Dunagan and published in the Kitsap Sun in July of 2016, he described the little known pyrosome. Consisting of colonies of zooids, Pyrosome are able to clone themselves and to create giant tube like structures, some as large as that seen in the image above. Typically found in the tropics, they have until now simply been interesting but little seen and little heard about in the northwest. Until now.

Those aren't worms
being used for bait.

More than flowers blooming in the northwest.
Both National Geographic and Northwest Sportsman have written, on June 13th and 14th respectively, of a massive bloom and increase in pyrosomes now occurring off of the west coast and as far north as southeast Alaska. The Northwest Sportsman writes that "...this spring [it] appear to be everywhere off the Oregon Coast to the point they are clogging fishing gear by the thousands." NOAA's research biologist Rick Brodeur is quoted in the National Geographic article as saying, "It's just unbelievable how many of them there are."

Climates change and so do we.
The National Geographic article notes, "In 2014 and 2015, when a warm water blob temporarily transformed the eastern Pacific, animals of all stripes appeared where they didn't belong. Warm-water sharks and tunas were caught in Alaska. Tropical sea snakes appeared off California. The longest and most toxic bloom of algae ever recorded poisoned crab, anchovies, and seals and sea lions. And a handful of pyrosomes began washing ashore." As the waters cooled in 2016, species present returned to their historical locations - except pyrosome. They remained and for reasons unknown began to multiply. Currently, nobody seems to know why. As biologist Laurie Weitkampt with the Northwest Fisheries Science Center is quoted as saying:
"For something that's never really been here before, the densities are just mind-boggling. We're just scratching our heads."
What do they eat - and what eats them?
Currently the impact of the sudden increase - both on what they eat and on what eats them - is not known. The Northwest Fisheries Science Center simply says:
"Some bony fish, dolphins and whales are known to eat pyrosomes, but scientists know little about their role in the offshore ecosystem or how they may affect the food web in areas where they are now appearing in such high densities."
Times are changing and so is the ocean. 
Get involved and become aware of what's happening to our marine ecosystems. Whether along the entire coast or within Puget Sound, things are changing.

Friday, June 2, 2017

For President Trump to Consider: Massive Fish Kill on Puget Sound Blamed on Hot Weather

KOMO reports on a massive fish kill in south Puget Sound being blamed on hot weather.

(KOMO photo)

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Memorial Day Weekend Brings Good Weather and Lowest Tides in Years

Get out and see what's happening at low tide.

This coming Memorial Day Weekend's weather is forecast to be sunny and warm. Along with the weather will come the lowest daytime tides Puget Sound has seen in years. In the table below is the anticipated weather and the low tides for the day (tides and time are at Olympia).

For other locations in Puget Sound, visit NOAA's web site. Below is an example for McMicken Island for the dates of May 26, 27, 28 and 29. 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

May 21: Association of Bainbridge Communities Environmental Conference on Industrial Aquaculture Impacts

Is this what Puget Sound's intertidal
ecosystem should become?

The Association of Bainbridge Communities' Annual Environmental Conference discusses the current and future impacts to Puget Sound ecosystems from industrial aquaculture.
(Note: The conference is free. However, due to space limitations, registration is required.)

Register herehttps://www.eventbrite.com/e/changing-the-nature-of-puget-sound-the-impacts-of-industrial-aquaculture-registration-30991093194
May 21, 12:30 pm to 5:30 pm
Where: 4450 Blakely Ave NE, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110
Weather: 🌞A good excuse to take a trip to Bainbridge Island.
The Association of Bainbridge Communities' annual Environmental Conference will cover the impacts to Puget Sound from industrial aquaculture. From the announcement:
"Speakers for this regional conference will cover ecosystem impacts, science and policy of aquaculture, legal aspects of the industry, food safety and health issues, problems with Atlantic salmon netpens, and experiences of neighbors living with this industry on their shorelines."
12:30 pm - Registration/Exhibits at IslandWood Welcome Center
1:00 pm - Introduction to Conference
1:10 pm - Overview of Impacts of Industrial Aquaculture
1:30 pm - Dispelling the Myths of Aquaculture
2:05 pm - Legal Aspects including Shellfish Initiative
2:35 pm - Regulatory Gaps in Permitting
3:00 pm - BREAK to visit exhibits
3:20 pm - Specific Aquaculture Topics: Atlantic Salmon Feedlots and Spraying and Health Issues
4:20 pm - Panel of Puget Sound Homeowners impacted by Industrial Aquaculture
5:20 pm - Next Steps: getting involved
5:30 pm - Adjournment

It's time for Governor Inslee 
to think of more than free oysters.

(Credit: Scott Terrell, Skagit Valley Herald)

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Source of Norovirus in Puget Sound: Shellfish Grower Says "Too Much Poop" in Puget Sound Making Shellfish Unsafe

Whose poop is to blame?

South Sound Mariculture Oyster
Declared unsafe.*

Time to consider oysters grown on the East Coast for now?
Tacoma's The News Tribune writes about a Puget Sound shellfish grower saying there is too much "poop" in Puget Sound causing oysters grown there to be unsafe to eat. John Hansen, owner of South Sound Mariculture, has spoken before both the City of Shelton's City Commission and Mason County Commissioners. There, he expressed his belief that the source of norovirus which caused his and other shellfish farms in south Puget Sound's Hammersley Inlet to be closed, is the City's waste water treatment plant. That plant discharges directly into Oakland Bay and Hammersley Inlet. The City of Shelton strongly disagrees with Mr. Hansen's claim.

Humans aren't the only mammals
increasing in population around Puget Sound.

Whose poop is it that the oysters are filtering and in turn making humans sick?
Through the shellfish growers, focus is being placed on septic systems and, in the case of Mr. Hansen, the City of Shelton's waste water treatment plant as being the source of norovirus his and other's oysters are contaminated with. However, norovirus is not limited to humans, and humans are not the only mammal increasing in population in or around Puget Sound, a point noted by Tristan Baurick in 2016, who wrote, "...the harbor porpoise is making a startling comeback after a nearly complete disappearance from local waters more than 40 years ago." More to the point, a January 2017 paper published by the Center for Disease Control notes:
"...the fact that noroviruses infecting marine mammals closely related to human noroviruses have been found infecting harbor porpoises and contaminating oysters raises the question of whether HPNV could infect humans through contamination of oysters or other shellfish."
He did it! No, it was her! Not me, it was him! 
Porpoise are not the only mammals
making their presence known.

Norovirus in northwest shellfish was not limited to Hammersley Inlet, but covered a wide geographic area.
This year, the number of illnesses contracted through the consumption of northwest oysters was not limited to Hammersley Inlet and numbered in the multiple hundreds. This was considered to be a widespread outbreak, ranging from Willapa Bay in the south to the waters of British Columbia*. After months of trying, the source, despite Mr. Hansen's belief, is still not known. In fact, given the wide geographic area and multiple shellfish operations implicated, it seems more likely the disease is being spread through means other than the City of Shelton's waste water treatment plant or on site septic systems. Whether the wide ranging pods of porpoises, sea lions, or even Orca are the source is not known, but cannot be discounted.
*The article in The Globe and Mail on oyster illnesses from British Columbia also notes in a short clip at the end the Humpback Whale population increasing from 6,000 to 21,000 since 1993. Shown is a drone capturing "whale snot" being exhaled to test for pathogens.
Send in the Orca to clean up the mess.
But don't they "poop" too? 

Half baked ideas are as bad as half cooked oysters contaminated with norovirus.
Before agencies chase ghosts attempting to make waters clean enough for shellfish growers to make (quoting Mr. Hansen) "$10,000 per month" from his small tideland parcel, they should first confirm just exactly what the source of the problem is. If they are wrong, and illnesses continue, the east coast shellfish growers will be able to take market share which will be very difficult to re-acquire. 

Is a drainfield this close to 
a shellfish farm a good idea
if you're worried about norovirus?
Does that green grass
in August
indicate anything?

Edited May 10: The Department of Health has declared portions of Hammersley Inlet open to commercial harvesting again. (see below - red/brown closed)

City of Shelton 
Portions of Oakland Bay and Hammersley Inlet

Edited May 11: The Department of Health has declared the area at the end of SE Mell Road open to commercial harvesting. Portions of the north shore and west end where the waste water treatment plant discharges into Oakland Bay and Hammersley Inlet remain closed.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Thurston County Commissioners Hear Appeal of Geoduck Operation Permit Approval

[Edited: Regarding the point made that Thurston County is not considering the larger picture - In addition to the 10 acre Chelsea operation noted below, Geoducks Unlimited has been issued a SEPA determination by Thurston County for another geoduck farm. Comments on the Mitigated Determination of Non-significance decision were due May 5. Appeal deadline is May 12. Geoducks Unlimited is operated by Gregory Reub, a scientist with Environ and previously Entrix, which created much of the foundation on which the perception that geoduck operations have minimal impacts is based on. During his involvement with Environ he operated another geoduck operation nearby. The current project description may be found by clicking here.]

On May 3, Thurston County Commissioners heard an appeal of the approval of a shoreline permit for a geoduck operation in Zangle Cove. Historically, this cove has never been used for industrial aquaculture, with tidelands sold by the state as being unsuitable for aquaculture. Recently, a property owner and Taylor Shellfish proposed an industrial geoduck operation within these tidelands, which Thurston County approved a permit for. One of the Commissioners recused himself due to prior contact with parties involved. Should the other two be unable to agree on a decision he will step in to break the tie.

Appellants presented to the Commissioners testimony on eel grass restoration efforts taking place by the Department of Natural Resources and impacts to safety and aesthetics by those opposed to the operation. It was stressed by appellants that the Shoreline Management Act does not give aquaculture priority or overriding preference to use of the shorelines, but is only one of may uses. It was also pointed out there are minimal benefits to growing geoduck, whether it be in the form of tax revenues or long term jobs, whereas recreational benefits are significant through such things as property taxes paid and taxes received on revenue from the rental of water craft for recreational use. Appellants summarized by saying that while aquaculture has a place in Washington, that place is not in Zangle Cove.

Of unique significance, a question by one of the Commissioners asked about the county's awareness - or lack thereof - of current and proposed geoduck operations in Thurston County. The appellant suggested that at a minimum, without permitting of all geoduck operations by the county, there is no way to know what sort of an overall impacts Thurston County's tidelands and waters are experiencing.
[Note: It was recently announced that Chelsea Sea Farms is proposing a 10 acre geoduck operation in Gallagher Cove. This farm's application was submitted to county staff on November 10 of last year, two months before the final hearing but was never mentioned by county staff. Information on that application is found on the Department of Ecology's SEPA website by clicking here.]
In response, applicants stressed the perceived importance of aquaculture over all other uses of waters and tidelands. They pointed out these were private tidelands, the eel grass present is a great distance from the proposed farm, a great deal of science has been created showing there is minimal impact to the environment, and that as proposed, industry's "best management practises" will mitigate other concerns. Finally, they stressed the SMA does not require a cumulative impacts analysis. [It should be noted a recent decision did affirm that in some cases a cumulative impacts analysis should be considered.] They concluded by noting the overwhelming number of comments are in opposition to the project and approval of the permit, but that is not a reason to deny the permit.

Testimony before the commissioners may be heard here:

Letters and comments in opposition, as well as other exhibits, may be found on Thurston County's website, here:

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Our Sound, Our Salmon Campaign to Protect Puget Sound from Net Pen Farming

The Wildfish Conservancy has begun a campaign to protect Puget Sound and its native species from the inherent risks associated with net pen salmon farming under the banner of "Our Sound, Our Salmon." 
[To read more about the risks from net pen farming, see the Wildfish Conservancy page by clicking here.]

Current Icicle Seafoods Operations
It sounds so good.
What cold go wrong?

Expansion of an industrial level of activity is being planned for by corporate entities such as Cooke Aquaculture, and its subsidiary Icicle Seafoods, involved in raising these non-native Atlantic salmon in Puget Sound. Large sums of money are poured into the creation of scientific studies which minimize the impacts, such as the dead zones beneath theses enclosed pens. Industry's response is to simply say, "We'll move the pens." Moving the operation to a nearby location does little to eliminate the fact that a dead zone was created. Placing pens where "strong tidal surges" occur is little more than a form of the "dilution is the solution" philosophy which is premised on simply spreading the impact over a larger area.  It should not be accepted as "mitigation" to the very real impacts to Puget Sound's critical marine ecosystem.

More to the picture than meets the eye.
"Sea lice can't grow in Puget Sound."
Yes they can and yes they do.
(Sea-run Cutthroat, south Puget Sound)

In addition to the dead zones created beneath these salmon net farms are the impacts resulting from concentrated populations of species. Whether salmon, shellfish, or people, a concentrated population creates a vector for parasites, bacteria and virus to spread from. (For more on fish farms being "disease accelerators" read Hakai's Coastal Science and Societies article, presenting two viewpoints.)  Sea lice are one of the largest risks to native salmon and native sea run cutthroat. Like a kindergarten class where one child's illness quickly spreads to the others and beyond, so too does illness in salmon net pens, whether in the form of parasites such as sea lice or bacterial and viral infections. Use of antibiotics may contain an illness within the pen for a time, but the marine environment is not static, and any addition to the waters spreads with the currents, raising the risk of resistant bacteria spreading. Further, the spread of viral infections (not controllable by antibiotics) beyond the pens to native salmon is very real is happening in Canada. (For reported Heart Skeletal muscle inflammation disease - HSMI - spreading within net pens in British Columbia, see here.)  As noted on the Wildfish Conservancy website discussing risks associated with disease:
The list of common outbreaks includes Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA), Piscine Reo-virus (PRV), Infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNV), Viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHSV), Vibrio salmonicida, and Renibacterium
Get involved. Help the Our Sound, Our Salmon campaign protect Puget Sound. The waters of Puget Sound belong to everyone, not a select group of corporations who see the waters and tidelands as little more than something to profit off of. The letter below may be endorsed by clicking here. The future health of Puget Sound depends on it.

Tell Governor Inslee to Protect Our Sound and Our Salmon from Atlantic Salmon Net Pens

Governor Jay Inslee
Office of the Governor
PO Box 40002
Olympia, WA 98504-0002
Governor Inslee, 
We are writing to express both our love for Puget Sound as well as our grave concerns about the proposed expansion of Atlantic salmon net pens in Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. We respectfully request that you stop the expansion of this destructive industry in Washington's waters.

Puget Sound is the lifeblood of our region. It is where we take our children to play and teach them about the wonders of nature. It is where businesses and families continue Washington’s rich history of nourishing ourselves with Puget Sound's salmon, shellfish, forage fish, rockfish, crabs, shrimp, and prawns. It is also home for many of our iconic animals such as orcas, porpoises, otters, and all five species of salmon. We cannot risk all of that to benefit an international corporation that will pollute our Sound with harmful waste, invasive species, deadly parasites, and lethal viruses that infect our wild salmon.
We know you understand the value of Puget Sound and its salmon because you have dedicated hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to support their recovery and management. Rather than supporting the expansion of an industry that will undo that great work, we encourage you to stop the expansion of Atlantic salmon net pens in Washington. We encourage you to join California, Oregon, and Alaska, which all banned Atlantic salmon net pens to protect their salmon and the health of their waters. Additionally, we encourage you to support the development of strong, legally enforceable science-based regulations for the existing Atlantic salmon net pens, not merely toothless recommendations like we have today.

Puget Sound and the fish that swim in its waters belong to the people of Washington. We care deeply about the wellbeing of the Sound and its salmon, and we want these resources protected so our children and their children can enjoy them. Our Sound, our salmon, and our future are far too important to put in the hands of an industry with a long history of negative environmental, social, and economic impacts everywhere it operates.  

We urge you to continue your work protecting Puget Sound and its salmon by stopping the expansion of Atlantic salmon net pens. This decision is in your hands - please protect our Sound, our salmon, and our future. 
Thank you for your consideration.

Monday, May 1, 2017

May 3, 10:30 AM - Appeal To Thurston County Commissioners Against Geoduck Operation in Zangle Cove

May 3, 10:30 AM - Appellants and applicants will each have 15 minutes to present their cases against and for the permit having been issued.

Thurston County Commissioners will hear an appeal by those who oppose the approval of a shoreline permit for a geoduck operation proposed to be operated by Taylor Shellfish in Zangle Cove. Those opposed believe the county did not fully consider the impacts from this operation.

The hearing will involve comments from the Appellants (Patrick and Kathryn Townsend, and Anneke Jensen) and will last for a maximum of 15 minutes. The Applicants (Pacific Northwest Aquaculture, Mr. Changmook Sohn) will have 15 minutes to respond if they choose to do so.

Here is the address:
Thurston County Courthouse
Building Number 1
Room 280
2000 Lakeridge Drive SW
Olympia, WA 98502

Note: Parking at the county complex can be difficult. There is public parking available near Building 1, and street parking close by. Arriving a little early is always a good idea.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Shellfish Grower Threatens Lawsuit, Commissioner Asks, "What's the shellfish industry doing to help pay for all this?"

Put your hand back in your pocket
and stop threatening us with lawsuits.

Just re-engineer the plant for us...
At the April 25 Mason County Commissioners meeting the shellfish Hansen family spoke about illnesses from norovirus in shellfish harvested from Hammersley Inlet impacting their profits and that of others. It is their belief the source of norovirus, and other human fecal related risks, is the City of Shelton's waste water treatment plant. Mr. Hansen suggested the plant be re-engineered and that waste water be discharged and absorbed on the land instead of being discharged into Hammersley Inlet. It was his belief the ongoing discharge was illegal and a threat to his and others business profits. Not mentioned was who would pay for it and it was pointed out the county has no role in the City's treatment facility.

... or lawyer up. 
In a not so veiled threat, Mr. Hansen reminded Mason County they had been sued once by shellfish growers for what he perceived as being a similar set of issues. In that case, it was felt by shellfish growers that the county's lack of oversight resulted in a septic tank pumper discharging his truckloads of sewage onto a field near Oakland Bay, closing or threatening to close shellfish beds. Out of that threat evolved the Oakland Bay Clean Water District which has resulted in cleaner water for shellfish growers to profit from. How much money has been spent in the form of grants and upgrades to the City of Shelton's wastewater treatment plant is unknown.

People who profit from others expense do not gain social goodwill.
In response to the Hansen family's presentation, Commission Jeffreys acknowledged shellfish are important. She also agreed clean water was important. But in recognition of something many have been asking for a long time, she asked what the shellfish industry is doing to help pay for clean water. She reminded all that shellfish are sold at wholesale and therefor little tax revenue is generated for Mason County. Not mentioned were geoduck are exported, avoiding virtually all taxes. Also not mentioned was that tidelands converted from the equivalent of open space to an industrial activity with structures needed to grow shellfish pay virtually nothing in the form of property tax. The suggestion that all property owners with onsite septic systems are by default the problem and therefor should be required to pay an annual fee to fund clean water programs for the shellfish industry to profit from has not and will not go over well. Especially with those who live miles away from any shellfish beds.

Commissioner Jeffreys has asked the question everyone should be asking: Why does the industry who profits so much from everyone else's efforts and expense pay so little? At what point does the threat of a lawsuit stop carrying any weight? Fred Neil's "Handful of gimme" is a fitting song.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Norovirus: Shelton-Mason Journal Reports Illnesses from Puget Sound Oysters Grow to Over 100

Number ill from Puget Sound oysters swells to over 100.
Anthony's Homeport in Olympia stops selling oysters.

 Just a little has a big impact.

Illnesses from Puget Sound oysters grows
The April 20th edition of the Shelton-Mason Journal reports that registered cases of illnesses in King County caused by consumption of raw oysters contaminated by Norovirus have grown to over 100.* It notes DOH saying the majority were harvested from tidelands in south Puget Sound. It has resulted in the recall of oysters from over a dozen companies having operations in Hammersley Inlet. The Journal also reported Anthony's Homeport Restaurant in Olympia saying they will "indefinitely" stop selling oysters due to health concerns.
* In the article it notes: "Health care providers are not required to report norovirus to the Department of Health ... there could be more than the originally reported 100 cases."
Closure map courtesy of iFIBER One News.
(See DOH interactive map for more)

Hammersley Inlet shellfish companies recalling oysters
Companies involved in the recall include: Arcadia Sellfish, Squaxin Island Tribe, Clearwater Shellfish, Russ Shellfish, Schreiber Shellfish, Sea Fresh Farms, Hernandez Shellfish, Taylor Shellfish, Montanos Shellfish Company, National Fish and Oyster Company, Navy Yard Oyster Company, Padden Seafood and Rivera's Shellfish.

Willapa Bay Shigoku oysters also recalled

Willapa Bay's Shigoku oysters also recalled
In addition to Hammersley Inlet, King County's April 14 update also noted Shigoku oysters harvested from Willapa Bay were contaminated with Norovirus and linked to reported illnesses from consumption of those oysters. Testing by the FDA's Pacific Region Laboratory NW confirmed the presence of Norovirus in Shikogu oysters from the Willapa Bay area. As a result of those illnesses and testing, DOH initiated a recall of oysters harvested from that area in Willapa Bay on April 13 and closed the area to commercial harvest.*
*Unlike Hammersley Inlet, the Willapa Bay area closed was recently declared safe by DOH and re-opened.
City of Shelton's wastewater treatment facility
Ultraviolet treatment a good idea?

Where to look, what not to do
To date there has been no report of finding the source of Norovirus in Hammersley Inlet. It had been hoped that norovirus from Hammersley Inlet's shellfish in 2015 had resulted in the source being found. Given the size of the current area closed, it would seem logical to assume the City of Shelton's Sewage Treatment facility at the end of Hammersley Inlet would be where to look. Especially given the recent upgrade which eliminated chlorine treatment, replacing it with ultraviolet disinfection. DOH notes Norovirus "...is not particularly susceptible to either cold temperatures or ultraviolet radiation." (DOH in 2013) Until the source is discovered, DOH does not recommend consuming raw oysters.