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:

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Thurston County Commissioners Hear Appeal of Geoduck Operation Permit Approval

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

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

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

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

Testimony before the commissioners may be heard here:

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

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting this. More people need to be aware how swift the shellfish companies move to acquire properties for farms. When you have the credentials of a scientist (such as Greg Reub with Geoducks Unlimited), it makes it that much more difficult to plead a case against them. We need other scientists to speak out against the destruction of our shorelines.