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, October 28, 2017

Pesticides in Willapa Bay: It's not about bees. It's about Willapa Bay's aquatic ecosystem and native marine invertebrates, the very foundation of the food chain.

Comments due November 1

Reminder: Comments on the proposal to apply the neurotoxic pesticide Imidacloprid to shellfish beds in Willapa Bay are due by November 1. 
You may submit comments here: http://ws.ecology.commentinput.com/?id=aefUM
(Alternatively, you may say you support the comment letter from the Coastal Watershed Institute found here: https://commentinput.com/attachments/projectID_1001/10063/merged//12829.pdf)
(Or, you may say you support the comment letter from Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides, found on The Coastodian's site, herehttps://coastodian.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/comment-letter-oyster-imidacloprid-proposal-SEIS-2017_updated-1.pdf)

Willapa Bay is not a template for shellfish growers to profit from. It's time for them to step back.

Anthropogenic Extinction
of a Native Oyster

Native oyster, native habitat, gone.
In the mid-1800's one of the great anthropogenic acts of extinction began in Willapa Bay. An estimated 27% of Willapa Bay was originally covered with native Olympia oyster. By 1920 that population, whose beds were estimated to have been as dense as 116 oysters per square meter, were all but gone, a direct result of overharvesting. After the shellfish industry first stripped the more easily harvested intertidal and low subtidal areas, they then convinced politicians in 1899 they should be allowed to dredge the remaining subtidal population. Shortly after that point, the native population of Olympia oyster, likely genetically distinct to Willapa Bay, were all but gone. Thanks to little more than the goal of short sighted profits by the shellfish industry.

Bring in the nonnatives, spray the invasives (as defined by the shellfish industry)
Left with nothing more than empty tidelands the shellfish growers, instead of restoring the native Olympia oyster, attempted to introduce the nonnative Eastern oyster. Shipped by rail and packed in Spartina, it was a failure after mass die-offs. What didn't die-off was Spartina. Considered a beneficial plant on the east coast because of its ability to stabilize soils in the nearshore environment and habitat it provided, shellfish growers considered it an invasive species. Through political lobbying they were able to get approved one of the largest herbicidal spraying operations in a marine environment. While successful in minimizing Spartina, its sediment retention properties were lost, resulting in dispersal of sediments previously held in place throughout Willapa Bay.

If at first you don't succeed - try again. And strip ownership of tidelands from those who made it succeed.
After the failure of the Eastern oyster, Willapa Bay shellfish growers turned to the nonnative Japanese Pacific oyster.  Growers from Japan had been successfully importing and growing the Pacific oyster privately owned tidelands since 1905. Until "passage by a State Legislature of a law (1922) restricting the ownership of lands by aliens, [when] the Japanese Company was forced out of business" (from "The Immigrant Oyster", a history of how the nonnative Pacific oyster came to be introduced and cultured in Washington's waters). At that point, after the failure of the Eastern oyster, the nonnative Pacific oyster was what was grown. 

Bring in the nonnatives, spray the invasives. Part 2.
Along with the nonnative Pacific oyster imported from Japan, also came the nonnative Japanese eelgrass. As with Spartina, in Japan this species of eelgrass is considered beneficial in the habitat and food provided to aquatic and avian species. But, as with Spartina, shellfish growers here considered it to be a "noxious weed." Shellfish growers successfully convinced the Noxious Weed Board to classify Japanese eelgrass as a "noxious weed" which in turn led to approval spraying Imazamox, an herbicide, into Willapa Bay in order to more easily grow nonnative Manila clams and nonnative Pacific oysters.

Kill off the natives with pesticides so nonnatives can grow.
Now, shellfish growers believe it is time to remove a native species, the burrowing shrimp. Growers claim the burrowing shrimp is spreading throughout the bay, making their tidelands too soft to grow nonnative shellfish on. And with the removal of the burrowing shrimp, any other aquatic invertebrate in the area, making up the very base of the food chain in Willapa Bay. The shellfish growers' response? It helps the population to kill them off. (Dick Sheldon, October 10, before the Department of Ecology) 

Willapa Bay needs a new chef. It's not a "chemical soup" and not a profit template.
It's time for shellfish growers to be told to step aside. Their short sighted actions have done little more than transform what had been a bay whose tidelands were populated with native Olympia oysters in densities unimaginable today. Their short sighted actions have introduced multiple nonnative species into a thriving ecosystem which has done nothing more than create what Washington's attorney general described as "the chemical soup that was the bay." A chemical soup created by chefs who call themselves shellfish growers. 

Get involved. Industrial aquaculture is transforming Washington's marine ecosystems. Aquaculture can be done, within reason. But just because it is "aquaculture" should not mean it can do what it wants, where it wants, however it wants.

Comments due November 1. 

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