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:

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Lowest Tides In Years During "No Plastic July"

It's "Plastic Free July"
There's More Than
Straws, Forks and Spoons
To Worry About

Tomorrow, July 13, and this weekend will see some of the lowest tides and highest elevation changes Puget Sound has seen in years. In south Puget Sound, Friday the 13th, at 12:44PM, will see tidal lows of -3.9. On Saturday, between 1:30 and 8:30, a tidal elevation change of over 19' will occur, with all water flowing through the Tacoma Narrows.

These low tides will expose a part of Puget Sound's marine ecosystem rarely seen. Coupled with the warm weather and sunny skies it is a rare opportunity to get out and experience what only Washington can.

What other plastics need
to be kept out of Puget Sound?

Remember, it's Plastic Free July, so leave your plastic straws, forks and spoons at home. If you see plastic in any form, take a picture to remind yourself that plastic forks and straws are not all Puget Sound's marine habitat should be protected from.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Mason County Residents Question Geoduck Lease By DNR on Stretch Island

Is removing some of the few remaining tidelands
available to the public in the state wide interest?
Stretch Point State Park and the public tidelands
being leased are both accessible by boat. 

An emergency Port of Grapeview meeting provided Mason County residents an opportunity to question the wisdom of DNR leasing 4.6 acres to Allen Shellfish for a geoduck operation. The lease was described as "the hot topic" of the emergency meeting, held days before its regularly scheduled meeting. At the meeting it was decided to request DNR extend for 90 days the comment period on the proposal so that citizens could gain a better understanding of just how the proposal came to be and what exactly it would mean.

Is this how RFP's for public tidelands
are supposed to be handled?
You give me this now, I'll give you a "piece" later.

As background, in 2006 and 2007, DNR decided to lease a number of tideland parcels to geoduck farmers. Responses to the requests for proposals (RFP's) were received from operators and "winners" were chosen based on a formula applied to various aspects of the responses. After a public outcry, DNR chose to hold off on executing any leases at the time to consider the impacts. During that time horse trading between growers, with DNR's apparent consent ensued, with growers agreeing  to trade one lease for another. As seen in the letter above, Case Cove felt it was in their interest to convince Allen Shellfish to give up their lease in front of Case Cove owner Kent Kingman's property, which Allen Shellfish agreed to do, for another lease and an undefined "piece" at a later time.
[Note: It is unclear whether the "trade" is in effect any longer as Mr. Kingman's Case Cove was administratively dissolved by the State in 2012. Mr. Kingman also had challenges with Pierce County due to aquaculture activities taking place on his privately held tidelands without a permit, resolved when Mr. Kingman agreed not to harvest the clams he had planted.]

Twelve years later, we arrive at the present time with DNR considering an execution of a lease for the use of public tidelands, apparently decided on in 2006. It is not known whether Allen Shellfish was asked to reconsider its 12% of gross geoduck revenues or if DNR considered the possibility of putting the tidelands out for bid again as they do timberland and wild geoduck tracts. What is known is that many of the public still feel it is not in the state's interest to remove some of the few remaining public tidelands, whether accessible by boat or otherwise.

(from Intrafish: requires an account to read
the complete article and quotes from Bill Dewey)

Today, we also have another variable: a President who has started a trade war with the country where it is estimated up to 90% of geoduck sold are exported to. In response, China has placed a 25% tariff on geoduck from the US (i.e., south Puget Sound). What will happen in the likely event they discover geoduck from Canada, New Zealand, Mexico, and even from their own tidelands look and taste the same as those from south Puget Sound? Anyone invested in the stock market in 2000 will tell you what happens when a bubble pops.

Puget Sound geoduck are not different
than Canadian, Alaskan, New Zealand, or Chinese.

Get involved. These leases of some of the few public tidelands remaining were not a good idea in 2006 and they are less of a good idea today. This is a market in a state of high risk, as the stock market was in 2000, except in this case there will also be PVC, netting and stakes left in the tidelands when growers walk away from unprofitable leases.

Tell DNR what you think here:
Contact DNR here:
CPL@dnr.wa.gov (Commissioner) or, 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

"Geoduck growers 'freaking out' over China US trade war."

“The market can’t absorb that price increase,” said [Bill] Dewey. 
“The volume will drop; the price will drop.”

Intrafish, a seafood industry publication, writes on the south Puget Sound geoduck industry's apparent end of distorted pricing. China has announced they will impose a 25% tariff on geoduck imported from the US.
Article here (requires subscription): http://www.intrafish.com/marketplace/1514776/geoduck-producers-freaking-out-over-china-us-trade-war
Daily World article here ("will get slammed")https://www.thedailyworld.com/business/north-pacific-seafood-exports-hit-by-chinas-tariffs/

Monday, June 18, 2018

Illegal Clam Harvest in Pierce County

A truck full of bad clams.

KIRO 7 reports that an illegal clam harvest was discovered with 1,400 pounds of clams being confiscated and destroyed. Based on closure maps from DOH, the parcel(s) involved were near Penrose Sate Park, in the area of Lakebay Marina. Who the owner and operator (reportedly from Shelton) were was not reported. Nor was whether prior harvesting had been going on and whether illegally harvested clams may have entered the distribution channel.

(From Pierce County's Public GIS  
and the Department of Health's 

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Ecology Releases Pierce County SMP Update with Required and Suggested Changes

DOE has released its approved SMP update for Pierce County to adopt. It includes both required changes (e.g., Pierce County cannot ban dredge material from being discharged in the Nisqually Reach Aquatic Reserve nor ban aquaculture within 300' of the mouth of a stream in estuaries, saying the latter is too vague) and suggested changes (e.g., clarifies what a "stream channel" is).
[Note: It isn't clear why a "stream channel" is able to be defined but not the mouth of a stream.]

The the county may choose to submit an alternative to all or part of the changes required by Ecology. It is not known when the Council will meet to discuss DOE's response, but DOE has told PC they have 30 days from May 31 to respond. Links to DOE's PC SMP update site are:

Link to DOE letter to PC:
Link to PC SMP update page:
Link to required changes:
Link to suggested changes:

County Council Contact information:

DOE Contact information:
Kim Van Zwalenburg
Senior Shoreline Planner

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Washington DNR Moves Forward to Remove Access to Public Tidelands Adjacent to Stretch Point State Park

How much is too much?
Some of the few remaining tidelands accessible to the public in South Puget Sound.
DNR has issued a SEPA mitigated determination of non-significance for a lease of public tidelands on Stretch Island. These tidelands form an extension of Stretch Point State Park, one of the few marine state parks accessible by boat. These state owned tidelands provided some of the few areas the public was still able to boat to and enjoy clamming at low tides in south Puget Sound.
(See full details of SEPA determination here, under "Stretch Island Geoduck Farm Lease #20-079918": https://www.dnr.wa.gov/current-aquatic-resources

Some will say these tidelands are only accessible by boat so what does it matter? If that is the case, then why have Stretch Point State Park, one of the most unique State Parks in South Puget Sound, also only accessible by boat. A large number of people own boats and a large number of people enjoy accessing the few remaining tidelands there are in South Puget Sound.

When did this become beneficial to the public?

Is this really in the public's interest? How many more tidelands is DNR intending to lease out to an industry placing more plastic and PVC in Puget Sound than any other? When is enough too much?

Saturday, June 2, 2018

How Many Geoduck Are Being Grown on My Tidelands? (An old post - but still popular)

Trust - but verify.
[Originally posted in 2013 this still generates
a large number of views. For those who have
leased out tidelands to geoduck growers
consider spending some time on your tidelands
during the current and upcoming
minus tides of June. It's your money.]

Why you should have remembered your math.
(well, maybe not this one)

A large percentage of intertidal geoduck farms are on tidelands leased by private tideland owners to  a few shellfish companies. These owners are approached by company representatives with promises of a large check at harvest time. The amount ranges from 10% to 15% of the gross revenues, determined by the pounds of geoduck harvested and the current "market" price. With planting densities of three per square foot, a 60' X 100' tideland parcel could result in a check of up to $50,000 every 4 to 5 years. (After expenses the shellfish grower could easily net over $200,000 in profit.)

However, some tideland owners are finding that the check received is far less than what they had expected. There are a number of variables which weren't made quite clear enough at the signing of the contract, in some cases lasting for over 15 years. One of the most important is that you should be aware of what you have.

How many geoduck are there?
For example, as in timber harvesting there are a variety of log types and densities, some worth more than others. Not all geoduck harvested are considered "#1" grade which receive the higher prices which have ranged up to $14/pound, sometimes far higher (the Seattle Times reported last year prices up to $24/pound) . A short dark "neck" or a discolored shell will quickly drop the price Chinese are willing to pay. But an important variable is how many pounds of geoduck are harvested.

Not all geoduck are created equally.

Variables impacting density range from the survival of the seed planted to poaching. Whatever the case, a prudent tideland owner should be aware of what is planted and growing on their tideland parcel. This coming weekend presents a prime opportunity for those tideland owners who have leased their tidelands to a grower to inspect their "crop" and set their expectations.

(it's not rocket science)
[total square feet planted]*[average/square foot]*[1.5 pounds]*[$/pound]*[15%]
While digging a geoduck for sampling would most likely not be allowed by the grower (they'll claim ownership), sampling the area to determine the density of geoduck currently growing is a wise step all tideland lessors should take and an easy process.

1. Determine the total area in square feet where geoduck have been planted. This area should be easy to find from permit applications submitted by the grower. If you don't have it you may ask the grower for it or simply measure the area. A 60' X 100' area would equal 6,000 square feet.
2. Using a yard stick, lay out a number of 3' X 3' squares (each being 9 square feet) in different areas for sampling and count the number of "show"(siphons) which are within each square. If survival is high, you may have up to 27 geoduck within that square. If survival is low, or poaching is occurring, it may be much less.
3. When you have determined what the average number of geoduck per square foot is, then it is simply a matter of multiplying that number times the number of square feet the grower has planted on your tidelands.
4. After you had determined the number of geoduck growing, multiply that number times 1.5 or 2.0 (the latter if your harvest time is longer than 5 years) to determine the number of pounds.
5. Call your grower or Taylor Shellfish and ask them what the landed price for geoduck is then multiply that times the number of pounds growing, then that number times your lease %.

Using the 60' X 100' example above:
[60*100=6,000 square feet]
3X3 areas showed an average of 27 geoduck growing in each area, or 3 geoduck per square foot.
Total number growing is 18,000.
[6,000*3=18,000 geoduck]
Harvest time at 4th year should result in a 1.5 pound geoduck, or 27,000 pounds.
[1.5*18,000=27,000 pounds]
Landed price is $14*, or a gross amount of $378,000, of which the owner gets 15%, or $56,700.

*6/2/2018: Best to assume the price received now is far higher than it was in 2013. Using a more realistic $20 per pound - 27,000*$20=$540,000*.15=$81,000.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Willapa Bay's Ecosystem Does not Need to Adapt for Shellfish Growers to Profit

Willapa Bay and Imidacloprid:
Kim Patten, WSU, on DOE's denial of the permit to apply pesticides in Willapa Bay - If you don't like Ecology's denial of a permit, legislate them out of the decision making and put the Department of Agriculture in charge. "They have different restrictions and laws..."
(Read Chinook Observer quoting Kim Patten here:
Politics does not solve everything.
In an article in the May 23rd Chinook Observer, Washington State University's Kim Patten describes his idea of how to deal with DOE's denial of the permit to apply the pesticide Imidacloprid into Willapa Bay:
"If the oyster growers decide to sue the Department of Ecology, it would then go in front of the Pollution Control Board for a hearing. If they find in favor of Ecology, then it’s over as far as any chemical treatment. If they find against, it would go back to Ecology — and they would maybe look at the points the Hearing Board cited and try to address those concerns. Whether they could do that and still not issue the permit, we don’t know. Or there could be a law passed by the Legislature to move the permitting process from Ecology perhaps to the Washington Department of Agriculture. Then Ag would have to say, ‘Now it’s ours, here’s what we’re going to do.’ And they’d begin some kind of study [with Kim Patten in charge?]. They have different restriction and laws to look at than Ecology has so the outcome could change."

It's time for new glasses.

There is a better way.
Despite Taylor Shellfish describing in the article how they address the problem of burrowing shrimp through a different growing technique, a few growers in Willapa Bay are myopic in their singular focus on the use of pesticides being the only way to deal with a native species they do not like. Taylor points out the survival rate of oysters in their technique is higher and, not mentioned, is the shape of oysters using their technique is apparently what the half shell market prefers (cupped and rounded). It is a better way.

It's time to let go.
It's time for growers and Kim Patten to realize the use of pesticides in Willapa Bay is not going to happen. It is the growers and Kim Patten who have to adapt to that reality. Willapa Bay's ecosystem need no longer adapt to them.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Imidacloprid in Willapa Bay: Comments on the DOE's Permit Denial are Due May 14

DOE Accepting Comments 
On Denial of Permit
Until May 14

Photo: Kevin Ebi/Alamy
The National Audubon Society

There's far more to Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor than non-native Pacific oysters
The Department of Ecology will accept comments on its decision to deny a permit application to a few select oyster growers in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor. These few short-sighted growers saw the application of pesticides to shellfish beds and public waters as the only way to deal with a native species which other growers dealt with through alternative growing methods, very profitably. 

Rich Doenges
Ecology Southwest Regional Office 
P.O. Box 47775
Olympia, WA 98504-7775

Rich DoengesSouthwest Region Manager

You've had your turn, now it's the public's
Shellfish growers in Willapa Bay have had multiple chances to show they are can create a sustainable model. Multiple times they have failed and simply tried to transform these waters into something they see as nothing but profit centers. In the mid-1800's they began to harvest the vast beds of native Olympia oysters to near extinction. They next tried importing Eastern oysters and found disease did not allow this non-native oyster to grow, but in the process of unpacking oysters shipped from the East Coast, they introduced the non-native Spartina grass which took decades of herbicidal application to control. Following that failure, they turned west and began importing the non-native Pacific oyster which, when unpacked from shipping crates, introduced the non-native Japanese eelgrass which, like Spartina, is being sprayed with herbicides to control. And now, pesticides to eliminate a native species.

Time to stop believing grandpa-knows-best 
Shellfish growers have had their turn. Now it's time for a new generation of forward looking growers, tribes and the public, who care about these great bodies of water and all they support (not just nonnative oysters)  to take back control and allow them to perform the great ecological services they have for thousands of years. Grandpa doesn't always know best, and in this case, it's time for him to sit down.

Get involved
It was only because a large number of people were willing to stand up to an industry used to getting its way that this short-sighted idea was brought to a stop. Groups such as the Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat; The Audubon; The Exerces Society; Beyond Pesticides; the Sierra Club; and, untold numbers of individuals worked long and hard to begin bringing the control of these great estuaries back to the species so desperately in need of habitat. They were involved. You should be too, for the present and the future.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

April 27, 5PM: Reminder - Comments on Commercial Shellfish Operation Within the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge Are Due

Get Involved: 
Critical Marine Habitat
In a National Wildlife Refuge
Should not be Fragmented
It's a Wildlife Refuge

Reminder: April 27, 5PM - Comments to Clallam County on whether a permit should be issued to allow  150,000 2'X3' grow out bags, growing nonnative Pacific oysters, in the tidelands of the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge are due. Those comments may be submitted 2 ways:
1. Email to Greg Ballard at gballard@co.clallam.wa.us (reference SHR2017-00011)
2. Via electronic form on Clallam County's site here:
Get involved. Not for yourself but for the native species dependent on this critical and diminishing habitat they need for survival.
(For complete permit information, see here:

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge: Comments Due April 27, Hearing June 7

Permit SHR2017-00011
Clallam County Shoreline Permit
150,000 Bags of Non-native Pacific Oysters
in the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge

By April 27 - Clallam County Comment Form: http://www.clallam.net/features/emailClallam.asp?em=permits&caseid=SHR2017-00011
By April 27 Email contact: Greg Ballard at gballard@co.clallam.wa.us *
(*Ask for an email confirming it was received. If you don’t get one within 24 hours, call Greg Ballard at 360.565.2616.)
June 7, 1PM - Public Hearing

Should portions of the tidelands of the
Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge
be allowed to be transformed
into a commercial aquaculture development
because the water is now cleaner?

Funding Sources
(from: https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/publications/publications/1410041.pdf)

Public dollars fund a restoration.
In 2005 an oyster operation within the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, which had been operating for decades, was abandoned due to water quality issues. Over the next 10 years millions of  taxpayer dollars in the form of grants from the EPA, including matching funds from Washington, was sourced by various groups (see "Funding Sources" above). These taxpayer funded grants were used to determine the source, and remedy the cause, of pollutants within the Dungeness watershed. In December of 2017 the tidelands within the National Wildlife Refuge were considered by the Department of Health to be "Conditionally" approved

DOH Classifications 

Now what? Clallam County, Army Corps, and the Department of Natural Resources
Currently there are two regulatory agencies, Clallam County and the Army Corps of Engineers, in the permitting process, and the Department of Natural Resources considering a lease. Clallam County had thought a hearing scheduled April 4th would be the end of public input, but the Hearing Examiner felt there was too much information still to be gathered from the public and various agencies before a decision could be made, so granted an extension for the comment period to April 27, to be followed by another Hearing June 7. Having denied qualification for a Nationwide permit, the Army Corps of Engineers is beginning to look at the proposal through their Individual Permitting process. Finally, the Department of Natural Resources is considering a new lease for the operation.

In a National Wildlife Refuge?
150,000 synthetic bags 
growing non-native Pacific oysters?

Lean forward and get involved. It's a National Wildlife Refuge on an easement granted to US Fish and Wildlife from the State for that purpose in 1943. It's 2018 and there's no "elsewhere" to go. 
These tidelands are neither privately held nor Tribal tidelands. The operation was abandoned 12 years ago. Public funds have indeed made the water quality better - the result of a number of groups, including the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe. However, this critical inter-tidal marine habitat is needed now than ever before. Industrial aquaculture is expanding throughout Puget Sound and it is fragmenting the marine habitat.