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:
http://www.governor.wa.gov/contact/contact/send-gov-inslee-e-message
Legislative and Congressional contacts:
http://app.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/

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



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

Friday, March 3, 2017

Coalition Submits Comment to Ecology on Net Pen Salmon Farming

Net pen salmon farming in Puget Sound 
is not a good idea.

The Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat has submitted comments to the Department of Ecology on their proposed "Managing Sustainable Commercial Net-Pen Aquaculture in Washington Straits and Estuaries". In those comments the Coalition presents evidence on the significant adverse impacts to the marine habitat and native salmon which net-pen aquaculture in other parts of the world have created.

Feed lots of concentrated animals create vectors 
for parasites and disease to take hold.

Pesticides in marine ecosystems do not remain in one place.
Included in the comments is the recently published paper showing pesticides used to treat salmon infested with sea lice spread throughout the marine eco-system and impact species far beyond those the industry seeks to treat. That paper on farms in Scotland noted, "...between 2006 and 2016 levels of anti-sea lice pesticides found in sediment 100 metres away from salmon cages exceeded environmental quality standards in 45 sea lochs and inshore waters." Anyone consuming shellfish filtering waters where these net pens are proposed should take note, as should shellfish growers. (See paper here: https://theferret.scot/45-lochs-polluted-fish-farm-pesticides/)

From waters near Olympia the sea lice 
have no problem living.

Puget Sound is not so different that sea lice won't be a problem.
In the comments the Coalition has also challenged Ecology to produce peer reviewed papers showing that the salinity of Puget Sound is so different from British Columbia and other parts of the world that sea lice will not be a problem. Anyone catching cutthroat in south Puget Sound has experienced the sight of these unwanted parasites clinging to these fish. Anyone looking at the Department of Health water monitoring reports can see the salinity levels are more than adequate to support sea lice populations, as they exist now and the dramatic increase which will occur with these vectors which net pens create.

Lesions are not pretty on any fish, nor healthy.

One thing leads to another.
Parasitic sea lice are not the only problem these concentrated feel lot operations create. A recent study published in the scientific journal Plos One on net pen salmon "...showed evidence of HSMI histopathological lesions over an 11-month timespan, with the prevalence of lesions peaking at 80– 100% in sampled fish." The cause of the lesions were traced to three sources: Piscine orthoreovirus (PRV), and parasites Paranucleospora theridion and Kudoa thyrsites. But the paper notes, importantly, that the virus "... PRV alone was statistically correlated with the occurrence and severity of histopathological lesions in the heart."

Land based salmon farming in Norway
to produce 20,000 tons.
Ecology should not be beholden to the industry
who claim it is more expensive.

Alternatives cost more to operate - but what are the native species in Puget Sound worth?
When sea lice create stress on the salmon it creates an opportunity for the virus to overwhelm the immune system of the salmon, resulting in lesions, poor health, and death. Of more importance, it will not be limited to net pen salmon. The marine ecosystem is fluid and dynamic. Hoping to be able to contain the disease is a false hope. The true alternative to net pen farming are land based operations where the populations are isolated from native species. As the Coalition comments note, Ecology did not appear to consider this alternative, discussed in depth at a 2014 summit held in Canada. There, attendees heard clear and concise methods presented on land based operations.

Get involved. Aquaculture is receiving your tax dollars to promote industry's expansion at the expense of Puget Sound's ecosystem and its native species.
NOAA is proposing millions of dollars be spent in order to overcome "...major constraints, barriers, or hurdles limiting United States aquaculture production." As noted:
NOAA Sea Grant expects to have available a total of $10,000,000-$12,000,000 across fiscal years 2017, 2018, and 2019 for a national initiative to increase aquaculture production in the short-term (2-4 years). 

Email:
Governor Inslee: https://fortress.wa.gov/es/governor/
Legislative and Congressional contacts:
http://app.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/

Call:
Sen. Patty Murray: (202) 224-2621
Sen. Maria Cantwell: (202) 224-3441