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:
http://app.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/

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



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."
Agenda:
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:
http://www.co.thurston.wa.us/permitting/hearing/2014108800/bocc-appeal/170503_001.MP3

Letters and comments in opposition, as well as other exhibits, may be found on Thurston County's website, here:
http://www.co.thurston.wa.us/permitting/hearing/2014108800/townsend-jensen-appeal.html




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.
Respectfully,

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.

Norovirus
 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.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Reminder: May 21 - Industrial Aquaculture's Impact on Puget Sound Ecosystems

(Reposted from April 2)

The Association of Bainbridge Communities'
Annual Environmental Conference
(Note: The conference is free. However, due
to space limitations, registration is required.)

When: May 21, 12:30 pm to 5:30 pm
Where: 4450 Blakely Ave NE, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110
Registration: [click here] (Note: Space is limited so registration is required).

This may be good for a few corporations
and the very well off consumers in China,
but not for Puget Sound. Find out why.

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."
Agenda:
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

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Threat to Humboldt Bay Eelgrass: Corps of Engineers Accepts Comments Through April 20



Comments due April 20 (see below for details)
[Thank you to Richard James and The Coastodian for this reminder.]

Get involved: Humboldt Bay's eelgrass beds are irreplaceable and the species dependent on them do not have an alternative location. A permit for Coast Seafood's proposed expansion into this critical marine habitat should not be approved by the Corps of Engineers. You can make a difference, but you have to engage.
[Note: A separate permit approved by the Humboldt Bay Harbor District is being challenged in court by the California Audubon and the California Waterfowl Association, represented by attorneys from Earthjustice. See April 3 post for details, or click here for case information.]


Above and below,
Humboldt Bay is critical 
marine habitat.
for more information.)

Send comments to L. Kasey Sirkin of the Army Corps at: l.k.sirkin@usace.army.mil
Important:  All comments should reference the PN file number and be submitted by the Response Required Date on the PN. Public Notice # is 2002-26912N. [Note: Comments should be directed to environmental impacts from expanded oyster cultivation in eelgrass.]

See Public Notice 2002-26912N here [Note: The comment period has been extended to April 20]:
http://www.spn.usace.army.mil/Portals/68/docs/regulatory/publicnotices/2017/SPN-2002-269120.pdf
See project description here:
http://www.spn.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/Public-Notices/Article/1104259/2002-26912n-coast-seafoods-company-humboldt-bay-shellfish-aquaculture-permit-re/

Coast Seafood's existing
and proposed expansion
into Humboldt Bay eelgrass beds.
A bad idea.

Richard James of The Coastodian reminds people who wish to stop the expansion by Coast Seafoods into the critical eelgrass beds of Humbold Bay the Corps of Engineers will accept comments through April 20. [click here to read Mr. James' post]

Comment letter from California Audubon/EarthJustice/Oceana - September 16, 2016:
http://coastodian.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Audubon-EJ-Oceana-Coast-RDEIR-comments_9-16-16.pdf
the Project and its impacts remain enormous. The Project encompasses 622 acres of eelgrass and other sensitive tideland habitats, in addition to Coast‘s existing 300 acre footprint of operations, much of which also occupies eelgrass habitat. 
the best available information indicates that the proposed Project would result in a loss of eelgrass density on the order of 89-92 percent in the existing footprint (2.5-ft longline spacing) and of 45-67 percent in the expansion areas (10- ft. longline spacing).
analysis of the Project‘s effects on eelgrass is fundamentally flawed, and the conclusions based on that analysis are wrong

Comment letter from the National Marine Fisheries Services:
http://coastodian.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/20160912_Cmmt-Ltr_Coast-Seafoods_RDEIR.pdf
the analysis does not consider the current operations despite ongoing impacts to eelgrass from existing culture. [current operations cover 290+ acres]
does not adequately address effects to federally listed species (green sturgeon, Chinook salmon, coho salmon, and steelhead) and their designated critical habitat and does not incorporate information provided by NMFS
Comment letter from the Corps:
http://coastodian.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/ACOE_coast-letter_final.pdf
the Corps cannot agree with the determination that aquaculture longline operations set apart at 10-ft spacing will have a neutral/beneficial effect on eelgrass habitat.
it appears that many of the proposed conservation and mitigation measures do not address the potential impacts that they are intended to be addressing.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Norovirus in Shellfish from Puget Sound and British Columbia - A Wintertime Problem for Shellfish

It's no longer summer time oysters 
industry and consumers 
need to worry about.

A business model is becoming ill.
The recent outbreak of illnesses traced to Norovirus contracted from the consumption of raw oysters harvested from Puget Sound and British Columbia is presenting new and major problems for the northwest shellfish industry. It has created a year-round safety question about oysters and shellfish safety harvested from the northwest, put in question the export market, seen how the east coast shellfish growers are stepping in with safe native shellfish, and created increased risk to a business model.

Summertime Vibriosis from Puget Sound oysters
In the past, the naturally occurring bacterium Vibrio parahaemolyticus increased dramatically during the warm summer months and resulted in the contraction of vibriosis from raw oysters harvested from Puget Sound. Over the past decade, immense effort has gone into attempts to control the outbreaks. While somewhat successful, vibriosis is still being contracted from Puget Sound oysters harvested in the summer months. To make matters more of a challenge, warming temperatures increase the probability of the more virulent bacterium Vibrio vulnificus, currently found in Gulf Coast grown oysters, becoming established in Puget Sound (DOH reported it 2013 Vv having been found in Washington grown shellfish - click here for paper).

Wintertime Norovirus in Puget Sound and British Columbia oysters, and nobody knows why
A March 31 press release from King County has said the outbreak of illnesses contracted by hundreds from eating raw oysters has nothing to do with their failed treatment plant. They point out the oysters contaminated with norovirus have come from growing areas as far south as Olympia, WA, to British Columbia in the north and that illnesses began far before, stating in the press release:
"The implicated oysters [for illnesses contracted in King County] come from all over the Puget Sound – from down near Olympia to all the way up in Bellingham/Samish Bay." 

A March 22 article in The Globe and Mail quotes the BC Shellfish Growers Association as saying, "...the longer the outbreak continues the more devastating it is for the industry." The article goes on further to note BCSGA executive director Darlene Winterburn:
She said the cause of the norovirus has yet to be determined and government officials and scientists are examining a range of possibilities, including a sewage leak or perhaps an unusually cold winter that also meant less sunlight, which affected the oysters’ ability to filter toxins.
More than oysters at risk - geoduck from Hammersley Inlet 
It is not only contaminated oysters shellfish growers are concerned about. China consumes almost 90 percent of the geoduck clams harvested in these same waters. Like oysters, they too filter the water and retain whatever may happen to be in that water. In south Puget Sound, Hammersley Inlet contains one of Taylor Shellfish's largest geoduck operations. Beginning in mid-March, shellfish growing areas of Hammersley Inlet began to be closed by the Department of Health, who expanded those areas closed in the first week of April, moving west towards Taylor's geoduck operation. Of concern to growers is China and Hong Kong do not hesitate banning imports of tainted shellfish, as noted in August of 2015 when this occurred:
Hong Kong has decided to ban the import and sale of all raw oysters from British Columbia, Canada, after the province announced that a batch had been contaminated with bacteria.
Opportunities seen by East Coast Shellfish Growers: Restaurants in Vancouver "...carrying east coast oysters not subject to the same contamination scare." (Vancouver Sun, March 22)
Unlike the tainted shellfish found in the northwest waters, the East Coast shellfish growers believe their product to be a safe alternative with restaurants in Vancouver already describing their east coast oysters as being "..not subject to the same contamination scare." CBCNews noted on April 5, as a result of the norovirus illnesses from British Columbia (and presumably Puget Sound), the northeast shellfish operators in the Maritimes (Canada's eastern provinces) were  "...struggling to keep up with demand." An interview with one of the northeast growers speaks about the BC growers problem and the difference between the native oysters they provide versus the non-native Pacific Oysters grown in BC.

Expansion at risk of becoming ill?
Unable to determine the source of the Norovirus which has tainted oysters from the northwest has put in question the expansion so desired by this industry. Financing is at risk when over 300 people become ill from oysters over a large geographic area and nobody knows what the source is. Should China ban shellfish from the northwest because of bacteria or virus, as they have done before, a revenue stream will come to a halt. That increased risk is an illness the industry should be concerned about.

Monday, April 3, 2017

NGO's Sue over Coast Seafood's Plans to Expand into Humboldt Bay Eelgrass Beds

Aquaculture and Eelgrass Are not Compatible
Picture from 2015 clearly shows eelgrass beds stopping
where oyster cultivation begins.

Attorneys for Earthjustice have filed a Writ of Mandate for the California Audubon and California Waterfowl Association in order to stop Coast Seafood's (Pacific Seafood Group) planned expansion into Humboldt Bay eelgrass beds. Filed by Earthjustice against the Humboldt Bay Harbor District, in the California Superior Court in Humboldt County, the papers claim the environmental impact studies used to base the decision off of are flawed (see Final EIR here). Trent Orr, staff attorney with Earthjustice states:
“In its environmental review and approval of the Coast Seafoods expansion, the Humboldt Bay Harbor District ignored solid scientific data and extensive comments from biologists on the severe impacts this proposal would have on Humboldt Bay’s eelgrass beds and the birds, fish, and other wildlife whose survival depends upon them”
 In describing the critical significance of Humboldt Bay and its eelgrass beds to species dependent on that marine habitat, the California Audubon notes:
[Humboldt Bay is] second only to San Francisco Bay in its importance to shorebirds, Humboldt Bay is one of the most important migratory stopovers along the United States Pacific Coast. It is a globally Important Bird Area and a Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network site of international significance. It boasts the highest shorebird species diversity on the West Coast, with 46 shorebird species regularly using the bay. It provides habitat to significant portions of the populations of Black Brant, Western Sandpipers, Least Sandpipers, Marbled Godwit, and Dunlin, among many others.
The bay is so rich in bird life because of its unusually varied intertidal zone and rich subtidal habitat, which is home to approximately 50% of California’s remaining eelgrass. Eelgrass is particularly important as habitat for producing forage fish and crustaceans and to provide food for migratory and breeding birds.
In the papers filed with the Superior court Earthjustice attorneys write:
"...the FEIR fails to fully inform the public and decision-makers of the Project’s significant environmental impacts and fails to analyze and mitigate these impacts as the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires. Petitioners therefore seek relief from this Court to void the Harbor District’s certification of the FEIR and approval of the Project. "
The papers go on to describe the impacts the proposed expansion would have and how the analysis was deeply flawed. Points discussed in detail include:
Impacts from Increased Disturbance Associated with Aquaculture Operations; Interference with Various Species’ Feeding and Movement Associated with Aquaculture Gear in Eelgrass and Mudflat Habitats; Broader Environmental Context of Project Impacts;  Impacts to Recreational Uses; The Project Approval Process; a Failure to Analyze Cumulative Impacts; and, Failure to Consider Reasonable Range of Alternatives
Get involved. Coast Seafoods is only one of the west coast shellfish companies who sees critical tideland habitat, including eelgrass beds, as little more than a template for corporate profits. Whether Puget Sound, Willapa Bay, Humboldt Bay or Drakes Estero, expansion into these critical areas is not speculative. It is real. There is money and motivation behind this industry to forever change a critical marine ecosystem which a diversity of species have depended on for existence. There is no other place to go. When it is gone, they will be gone. Forever.

CONTACTS
Trent Orr, Earthjustice, (415) 217-2000
Garrison Frost, Audubon California, (415) 644-4604
Mark Hennelly, California Waterfowl, (916) 648-1406, ext 105

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Changing the Nature of Puget Sound: the impacts from industrial aquaculture

When: May 21, 12:30 pm to 5:30 pm
Where: 4450 Blakely Ave NE, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110
Registration: [click here] (Note: Space is limited so registration is required).

This may be good for a few corporations
and the very well off consumers in China,
but not for Puget Sound. Find out why.

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."
Agenda:
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

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Norovirus Update: Outbreak News Reports over 300 Ill, King County Reports Washington Oysters Also Contaminated

Update: Widespread Norovirus contamination of oysters 
harvested throughout British Columbia and Washington.

Outbreak News reports  today that the Public Health Agency in Canada has reported over 321 illnesses traced to eating raw oysters contaminated with Norovirus which were harvested in waters of British Columbia. This total does not appear to include those who became ill in November who attended a festival on Vancouver Island. The 321 reported illnesses are all in Canada.

In addition, KING5 News reports that the Seattle King County Public Health Department has also reported an outbreak of illnesses traced to oysters harvested from Washington's Puget Sound, a body of water to the south of British Columbia, and consumed primarily in restaurants in Seattle. The Health Department noted the oysters were harvested from "different bays and beds across the state." KING5 noted a specific portion of Samish Bay was implicated in a large number of the illnesses, which Washington's Department of Health has now closed.

Speculation that the outbreak is related to the West Seattle sewage treatment plant problems is logical, but the outbreaks began before the failure so it is unlikely there is a relationship. Why the outbreak is so widespread is unknown. How the Department of Health will address the apparently growing problem is unknown.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

30 Million Gallons of Untreated Sewage Flow into Puget Sound

It's not raw sewage - it's only half raw.
Will the Trump administration care?

February 9th the West Point Treatment Plant in Seattle suffered a massive equipment failure. Since then Puget Sound's waters received 30 million gallons of untreated sewage. Currently, while repairs take place, the sewage flowing into Puget Sound from the plant being partially treated. Over 6 weeks later, the cause of the original flooding which crippled the treatment facility, is still unknown. It is hoped the repairs, currently estimated at $25 million, will be completed by the end of April. While clearly in violation of the Clean Water Act, it is not known whether action under the Trump administration will be taken.

Read more in the March 26 Tacoma News Tribune.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Ongoing Illness from British Columbia Oysters Puts Shellfish Safety in Question

Four months later, over 300 illnesses reported,
the source is not clear - beyond raw oysters.

What's in your filter feeder?
(Jean-Pierre Muller/AFP/Getty Images)

Headline March 22: B.C. shellfish industry reels as norovirus sickens hundreds, forces closures
(CTV News)
Headline January 13: BCCDC (British Columbia Center for Disease Control) advises consumers to properly cook oysters following outbreak (BCCDC)
Headline February 2: British Columbia oysters may be making Ontarians ill, health official warns (CTV News)
Headline November 25: Health officials investigate reports of illness after Tofino, B.C. food festival (CBC News)

18 Viral Particles and You're Ill
(Photo, CDC)

"Quickly" and "devastating" are apparently relative terms
Between November 25 and March 22, over 300 people having consumed raw oysters from British Columbia have become ill. Most are believed to be from reactions to Norovirus. While likely filtered from the coastal waters of the northwest, what its source is remains unknown.

Today, March 22, the shellfish industry has said it is "stunned" and they need to "find the cause quickly" as the alternative "could be devastating". It is unclear what "quickly" is defined as, given the outbreak has been ongoing over four months. It is also unclear what they define "devastating" as, given the number of people who have become ill and their inability to discover the source after four months.

As an article noted, the Executive Director of the shellfish growers association says, "...the far reach of the outbreak, which has been reported from oyster farms along much of the coast of Vancouver Island, is especially troubling."

In the mean time, the BCCDC recommends not consuming raw (uncooked) oysters harvested from British Columbia.

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Miami Herald Writes on Trump's Budget and the Risks to Puget Sound - Will Trump Care about Washington?

Research Supporting Geoduck Operations at Risk
But there's much more at risk.

The Miami Herald writes on the risk to Puget Sound should the budget proposed by the Trump administration gain traction and become reality. Included would be de-funding Sea Grant and cutting $28 million from the EPA currently being used to support Puget Sound cleanup. While unrealistic to believe the deep funding cuts proposed  would be accepted by officials elected to Washington DC, there is no love lost by the Trump administration for the state of Washington, a state who President Trump lost to Hillary Clinton by a wide margin.

Oh yes it can happen here, and it is.

Making a list and Washington's on it.
As a result of President Trump's Executive Order 13768, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) now publishes a "list" of "non-Federal jurisdictions that release aliens from their custody" in which numerous Washington counties are listed as not supporting ICE policies. Washington's Attorney General having filed and won a court case against President Trump's immigration policy has no doubt been added to the list. Washington's Representative Kilmer's (D) being upset at apparent ties between Russia and Trump surrogates a today's hearing will no doubt be added, as will Governor Inslee's resistance to Trump policies. Don't believe these things will not be used by a dangerous man and his surrogates against Washington, whether in the form of funding removed for the support of sanctuary cities or funding for protection and restoration of Puget Sound. It can happen here.

Get involved - it takes more than marching on a weekend to protect what you care about. 
Slate recently wrote on Samatha Bee's Full Frontal who berated liberals for being good at protesting but horrible at voting (see youtube clip on "the resistance" here). She noted only 12% of the voters turned out for the recent Los Angeles' mayoral election. In Louisiana a run-off for a Senate seat was won by a Republican, where only 29% of registered voters turned out. As the Slate article notes:
"...this apathy for current elections does not bode well for Democrats hoping to put the U.S. back on the right track in 2018 and 2020."
If you care about Puget Sound and the funding which supports its health, get involved. The Miami Herald notes Tod Meyers with the Washington Policy Center as saying, it's disingenuous for local leaders to protest proposed cuts for Puget Sound when they have not prioritized spending for salmon recovery and Puget Sound, going on to quote him as saying:
"It's ironic to criticize people in Washington D.C. for not treasuring what is in our own backyard when we won't prioritize what's in our own backyard"
Don't complain. Get involved.



Friday, March 17, 2017

Clarification/Correction to March 15 Post on Funding

Clarification and correction to the post questioning whether funding cuts to support NOAA and other agencies was necessarily a bad thing.

Clarification
Direct reference to studies created by Jeff Fisher, operator of a geoduck farm under the name of "Fisherport", continued as recently as January 6, 2017, in a letter penned by Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association attorneys to the Corps of Engineers. That letter was in response to the Seattle District's proposed General Conditions to the 2017 Nationwide Permit and an attempt to lessen regulatory oversight by the Corps. Reference to Dr. Fisher was made in order to support PCSGA's position that aquaculture in Puget Sound had "...minimal adverse to beneficial impacts..."

In addition to Dr. Fisher's studies, the PCSGA attorney's letter from January, 2017, also referenced the involvement of National Marine Fisheries Services in the programmatic consultation between NMFS and the Corps of Engineers in which NFMS issued a Programmatic Biological Opinion (PBO) on the Corps' oversight, dated September 2, 2016. As noted in the NFMS letter, that consultation between NMFS and the Corps began in 2007, noting that consultation process resulted in:
"...a final Biological Opinion in November 2014. That opinion required NWP-specific consultations before the COE could issue an individual NWP. The Services are addressing [in their September letter] that requirement for the 2012 NWP 48 with this [September 2, 2016] PBO." (p. 2 of September 2, 2016 opinion)
Correction
After extensive NMFS involvement providing consultation to the Corps' Seattle District, Jeff Fisher has left NMFS and in 2016 began work at the Marine Institute.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Focus on Local Control: The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund

[Update 3/17: Additional contact information -Lynn Lloyd, and phone - 253-561-3409
or, email at - lloydlynn52@gmail.com]

Learn how to get involved from The Community Environmetnal Legal Defense Fund.
Contact: Kai Huschke at  kai@celdf.org

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund has announced two events, one free one for a fee, on how to become involved at the local level to protect our environment from being seen as little more than a template to generate profits from. Given the current administration, it is critical that efforts to protect our natural systems be focused on the local level. 

April 6 - Free
April 7, 8 - $65

On April 6, at 6PM, CELDF's Kai Huschke will present a documentary at The Blend Wine Shop on elevating community and nature's rights over corporate rights. The efforts of CELDF are focused on the local level of ensuring the protection of the natural environment.

Blend Wine Shop
8914 Key Peninsula Highway North
Lakebay, WA 98349


On April 7, from 6pm to 9pm and then April 8, from 9am to 5pm, the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund will present a seminar on how to protect, at the local level, the natural environment which the current administration has cast aside. The location is to be determined, based on those attending. Please contact Kai Huschke at: kai@celdf.org


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Sea Grant Funding Threatened by Trump Administration: A bad thing?

[March 17 - Clarification and correction:

Clarification
Direct reference to studies created by Jeff Fisher, operator of a geoduck farm under the name of "Fisherport", continued as recently as January 6, 2017, in a letter penned by Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association attorneys to the Corps of Engineers. That letter was in response to the Seattle District's proposed General Conditions to the 2017 Nationwide Permit and an attempt to lessen regulatory oversight by the Corps. Reference to Dr. Fisher was made in order to support PCSGA's position that aquaculture in Puget Sound had "...minimal adverse to beneficial impacts..."

In addition to Dr. Fisher's studies, the PCSGA attorney's letter from January, 2017, also referenced the involvement of National Marine Fisheries Services in the programmatic consultation between NMFS and the Corps of Engineers in which NFMS issued a Programmatic Biological Opinion (PBO) on the Corps' oversight, dated September 2, 2016. As noted in the NFMS letter, that consultation between NMFS and the Corps began in 2007, noting that consultation process resulted in:
"...a final Biological Opinion in November 2014. That opinion required NWP-specific consultations before the COE could issue an individual NWP. The Services are addressing [in their September letter] that requirement for the 2012 NWP 48 with this [September 2, 2016] PBO." (p. 2 of September 2, 2016 opinion)
Correction
After extensive NMFS involvement providing consultation to the Corps' Seattle District, Jeff Fisher has left NMFS and in 2016 began work at the Marine Institute.]

Is the threat of de-funding Sea Grant and its associated research used to support the expansion of shellfish aquaculture in Puget Sound necessarily a bad thing? Consider just a few of the authors and research reports funded in whole or in part by taxpayer dollars to support expansion of the industry:

1. Jeff Fisher and Gregory Reub - Current or past principals with Environ, both significant providers of research funded in part or whole by Sea Grant to look at the impacts from geoduck operations in Puget Sound. Papers created and authored by each found little in the way of adverse impacts. These papers continue to be referenced directly or indirectly in permit hearings as proof of minimal impacts from expanding geoduck operations in Puget Sound.
Not disclosed: Both Mr. Fisher and Mr Reub, at the time of their involvement, each operated geoduck farms whose profitability would be directly impacted by favorable reports. Mr. Fisher is now with the National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS) which provides opinions on the impacts of current and future shellfish operations to the Army Corps, and continues to operate his geoduck operation on Totten Inlet and has purchased tidelands adjacent to those his operation is on. Mr. Reub continues work for Environ and continues his geoduck operation. He has purchased the tidelands originally leased, put them into and out of a self-directed IRA, and has proposed to expand onto nearby tideland parcels.
2. The University of Washington, through funding contracts with Sea Grant, created a study using a model to determine how much commercial geoduck operations could expand in the Central Basin of Puget Sound before adverse impacts would begin to be felt by native species. Despite knowledge the kilograms harvested was likely not accurate, and choosing to ignore far higher harvesting levels from other years, they chose to publish the paper.
At issue with the paper is the generally accepted fact that harvest records reported to the Department of Fish and Wildlife are under reported (i.e., lower than reality), despite a law requiring accuracy of production from the growers. More significant, the paper stated there were 10,546 kg (23,250 pounds) harvested in 2012. WDFW records show nothing harvested in 2012, but instead that amount was harvested in 2011. More important than an incorrect year is that in addition, WDFW records show in 2008 there were 47,343 kg (104,374 pounds); in 2009 there were 19,050 kg (42,000 pounds); and in 2014 there were 5,436 kg (11,985 pounds). [2008 - 104, 374 pounds; 2009 - 42,000 pounds; 2011 - 23,250 pounds; and 2014 - 11,985 pounds] Further, when the paper was referenced in a recent permit hearing as evidence for impacts to consider, a memo was created by an industry environmental firm framing the paper as being little more than a model and something not to be relied on by agencies.
If this is the type of research taxpayers' dollars pay for through Sea Grant should citizens be upset it is being de-funded? Puget Sound is a critical resource and funding for its protection is important. It may be time another source be found. Perhaps taxing those who profit from its protection - in this case the shellfish industry and those leasing their tidelands to those corporations - should be considered.

* After leaving his position at Environ, Mr. Fisher moved to NOAA's NMFS where he was branch manager for the Lower Columbia River and Washington Coast, an area encompassing Puget Sound