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



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