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:

Monday, October 19, 2020

 October 20, 1PM PCT/4PM ECT the Center for Food Safety will present a webinar on protecting the public's marine ecosystem from industrial scale aquaculture. While focused on Washington State, the significant and adverse impacts are a current and growing worldwide problem. Make a difference in life today which continues  into the future.

To register, click on this link: 


Sunday, June 14, 2020

Cumulative Impacts Not Considered: District Court Issues Ruling on Vacating Shellfish Farms

Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat and the Center for Food Safety
succeed in proving the Army Corps did not consider 
cumulative impacts when issuing permits.

The Court found that it [the Army Corps] violated 
the CWA [Clean Water Act] and NEPA 
(National Environmental Policy Act)
by failing to take a hard look 
at the anticipated environmental 
impacts of NWP 48*

Geoduck market collapses in China.
Court finds permits void.
Who will clean up the mess when growers
just walk away from their plastics?

*NWP 48 is a permit issued every 5 years to authorize common shellfish activities in the waters of the US. In Washington, it allowed permits to be issued on tidelands not used for aquaculture up to 100 years ago. Acreage numbers as high as 72,300 acres were presented. The Court stated: "its data regarding past uses of the permit was incorrect and its estimates of future uses are suspect"

Cumulative Impacts Matter
In the Court's October 2017 Order, the District Court ruled the Corps of Engineers had not considered cumulative impacts in approving their Nationwide Permit 48 in 2017 thereby voiding all permits issued. In its June 11, 2020 decision on whether to void all current permits, the Court found the logic presented by the Corps and shellfish growers lacking in evidence.
"...there is insufficient evidence in the administrative record to support the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ conclusion that the 2017 reissuance of Nationwide Permit (“NWP”) 48 would have minimal individual and cumulative impacts on the aquatic environment for purposes of the Clean Water Act (“CWA”) and (b) that the Corps’ environmental assessment related to NWP 48 did not satisfy the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”)."
Operators to go on vacation?
Following the decision, the Court was then faced with whether to force growers to vacate areas now found to be operating under an invalid permit, considering "(1) the seriousness of an agency’s errors and (2) the “disruptive consequences of an interim change that may itself be changed.” It was up to the Corps and growers (Taylor Shellfish and Nisbet Oyster) to provide the logic and evidence showing why they should be allowed to continue operating.
"...courts may decline to vacate agency decisions when vacatur would cause serious and irremediable harms that significantly outweigh the magnitude of the agency’s error. . . . Courts have considered remand without vacatur to be appropriate where serious irreparable environmental injury would result from vacatur. . . . In addition to environmental harm, it is appropriate to consider other practical concerns when weighing the consequences of vacatur"

Court to growers and the Corps: You made a serious error.
The Corps and growers argued the mistake was neither serious nor consequential because both the District and State were involved in oversight, minimizing the environmental impact. The Court did not agree, stating:
"The Corps/Intervenors have not shown that the District level verification process or state, local, and/or Tribal oversight of commercial shellfish aquaculture activities in Washington overcome the seriousness of the agency’s errors in this case."
Disruptive Consequences - Economics don't trump the environment. 
"environmental impacts of these activities are more than minimal, both individually and cumulatively"
In considering the disruptive consequences of finding all shellfish farms "unauthorized and in violation of federal law" the Court considered a number of things. Included was the Corps being "overwhelmed" by new permit applications; tribes may be unable to provide food for tribal members; growers would face devastating impacts on the continuing viability of their farms, their employees, their communities, the state and local economies of which they are a part, and the ability of Washington shellfish farmers to compete on a national or international basis; shellfish are "filter feeders" and their removal would harm the marine ecosystem; and, shellfish growers "retard" upland development activities. Growers argued they should just be allowed to continue on, harvesting and seeding. Even on tidelands which had no activities for 100 years.
"The problem is not that the Intervenors have failed to establish that the loss of their authorization to install shellfishing equipment and to discharge materials into the waters of the United States would have devastating impacts on their businesses, but rather that they have not shown that those impacts outweigh the environmental consequences of continuing their activities as currently permitted."
The Court's solution 
Because neither the growers nor the Corps could not support not vacating the permits, the Court stated:
"In the absence of meaningful assistance from the Corps and the Intervenors in helping to shape a compromise remedy, the Court will adopt a remedy based on the suggestions of plaintiffs, amici, and Swinomish."
That remedy crafted by the Court vacates all current permits but allows a pause of 60 days for an appeal; would allow currently planted shellfish to be harvested; seeding and planting within 6 months in areas without eel grass could occur; and, tribal rights would be respected. If growers intend ongoing activities (e.g., harvesting) they must, within 6 months, apply for a new permit. Planting new areas would not be allowed without a new permit. The Corps must process new individual permits but not without following CWA and NEPA steps outlined in the October 10, 2019 Order which concluded:
"The Corps’ issuance of a nationwide permit, at least with respect to activities in the waters of the State of Washington, was arbitrary and capricious and not in accordance with NEPA or the CWA. Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 706(2), the Court holds unlawful and sets aside NWP 48 insofar as it authorizes activities in Washington."
Get involved.
Make a difference in life and help protect Puget Sound's critical marine habitat. Whether from open net pens discharging plumes of untreated waste or plastics used in shellfish aquaculture, this habitat is under extreme pressure.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

An Industrial Shellfish Farm in the Dungeness National Wildlife Reserve is Not in the Public Interest

Make a difference in life. 
Help keep the Reserve intact.
Comments due by May 30.

Abandoned in 2005 - It should remain so.
Commercializing a Wildlife Refuge is NOT in the public interest, only in the interest of a few who stand to profit greatly from this rare public resource. Those few who profit will do so at the expense of fragmenting an intact ecosystem which is one of the few remaining on the West Cost used by migrating and resident water fowl. Shellfish farms can go elsewhere. Wildlife cannot. 
See Friends of Dungeness National Wildlife Reserve here: http://www.fodnwr.org/dungeness_oyster_farm.html

They have nowhere else to go. Shellfish farms do.

80,000 plastic bags do not belong in a Wildlife Refuge.
Putting a commercial shellfish operation, starting with 20,000 plastic bags and potentially growing to 80,000 bags, should not be permitted. It is not in the public interest. It is an unheralded expansion of intensity of an operation which was abandoned in 2005. There are alternative tidelands outside of the Wildlife Reserve available. 
See Protect the Peninsula's Future "alert":  http://www.protectpeninsulasfuture.org/dungeness-refuge-alert/
See Protect the Peninsula's Future "how to comment section"  here: http://www.protectpeninsulasfuture.org/how-to-comment/

Get Involved.
Make a difference in life. Be able to say, "I helped to ensure the diversity of wild life will be here for future generations."

Comments to the Army Corps of Engineers due by May 30th: 
email pamela.sanguinetti@usace.army.mil    Reference Case #: 2007-1213.

Comments to the Department of Ecology:
email ecyrepermits@ecy.wa.gov Reference Case #: 2007-1213

(click to enlarge)
(click to enlarge)

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Hearing Examiner Recommends Industrial Shellfish Farm Permit within Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge be Approved

Despite Clallam County staff recommending the permit for an industrial level shellfish farm not be approved, the Hearing Examiner has said it should be, allowing for an initial 20,000 plastic growout bags to be placed on tidelands within the Refuge. Should millions of dollars spent on upland habitat  restoration justify the transformation of tidelands in a Wildlife Refuge?
Read more on Protect Peninsula's Future site here:

Upland restoration of watersheds
should not justify this. 

Monday, December 23, 2019

Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge: Permit Decision Delayed Until January 10

Voluminous Amount of Information, A Simple Reality
Clallam County has announced a delay until January 10 on the decision on whether a permit should be approved which would allow up to 80,000 plastic grow out on the tidelands within the boundaries of the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge. The Hearing Examiner was flooded with information on why non-native Pacific oysters grown in grow out bags should not be allowed within the Wildlife Refuge, and more supporting why the industry thinks it's a good idea.

Native Olympia Oyster vs
nonnative Pacific oyster
Native Avian Species Using the Wildlife Refuge
Native Species have No Where Else to Go
At the core, the question before the Hearing Examiner is whether a small shellfish operation which was abandoned in the mid-2000's due to water quality issues should now be allowed to return in an intensity never seen in any Wildlife Refuge, nor for that matter anywhere in Washington State. 80,000 plastic bags layering over the tidelands is disruptive and belong somewhere else. Also weighing on the decision is the precedent it would set, being used by other commercial shellfish operators as an example of why other Wildlife Refuges should have commercial shellfish operations allowed.

Not conjecture, but reality.
Attorneys for the industry would argue the issue of precedence is merely conjecture. But one only need look at the precedent argument used by those same attorneys to justify expansion of new geoduck farms, pointing to other permits having been issued, establishing a clear reliance on the use of past permit decisions as a precedent for future permit decisions. It is the industry's legal reality they live in and for that reason alone the permit should be denied.

Enjoy the Holidays

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Cooke Aquaculture and Football Shaped Rainbow Trout: Are they really "native steelhead"?

Comments due by November 22
Our Sound Our Salmon provides a how and why to submit comments here

Fool me once, shame on you.
Fool me twice, shame on me.
Above - 2017
Below - 2019

Genetically altered sterile rainbow trout are not native.
Our Sound Our Salmon is encouraging citizens to take advantage of the extended comment period on whether Cooke Aquaculture should be allowed to grow genetically altered rainbow trout in Puget Sound. Cooke intends to brand these rainbow trout raised in Puget Sound as "steelhead".*
*Steelhead are rainbow trout which have out-migrated from fresh water into salt water, then returned to their native streams to spawn. In the case of Cooke's fish, they are genetically modified to become sterile, will be fed pellets enriched with Omega 3, obtained from harvested forage fish, and fed supplements such as astaxanthin to turn the flesh pink. Whether raising a rainbow trout this way qualifies it as a "steelhead" is questionable, at best.
What altered genetics gets you:
Fish "shaped like footballs, with smaller heads"
(Seattle Times article)
"They're steelhead"
Maybe, but that's not native.

By altering the genetics of rainbow, most of the female fish will be sterile (Cooke cannot guarantee all will be), unable to develop gonads. Because of this, energy continues to be focused on growth as the fish age and continue to be fed. Documents submitted by Cooke, as reported in the Seattle Times,  describe the fish as "..often shaped like footballs, with smaller heads and stout bodies" (see image above, provided by WDFW). Economically, these genetically altered fish create more "meat on the bone." But they are not native.

These cows on the Serengeti 
can spread into native habitat.
Old science, new science, the reality is
farmed fish spread when they escape.
(WDFW estimated in a worse case scenario 
up to 1,000,000 genetically altered rainbow
may escape from Cooke Aquaculture's pens)

But "science" said they wouldn't travel far if they escaped.
One of the most significant lessons learned from Cooke Aquaculture's alleged negligence in 2017 which allowed over 250,000 farmed salmon to escape was they do not simply sit by the pen. As seen in the map above, created by WDFW from reported catches of Cooke's escaped salmon, they spread not only throughout the Salsish Sea, they also migrated up rivers use by native and endangered salmon for spawning. Despite documents submitted which try to show escapes would not travel far, not know where to go or what to do, the facts provided by WDFW clearly showed they do spread and do know how to find rivers with spawning habitat. There is no reason to believe these "steelhead" would not follow the same behavior as their closely related Atlantic salmon did. A fact based on reality, not a model created from behavior of fish somewhere else in the world. 

Cooke Aquaculture needs to move
into the future and stop polluting
public and tribal waters.
You can grow smolt here, 
you can grow steelhead here. 
And you have an additional 300 acres
less than 5 miles away to the west.

There is a better way to do things, creating jobs and infusing capital. You have the money and the land.
Of most significance to anyone concerned about the risks these genetically altered rainbow trout pose to Puget Sound, whether it be nutrients discharged from the pens or habitat and spawning grounds, is that Washington's Department of Fish and Wildlife did not consider the alternative of upland/contained operations. These facilities are being built throughout the world. Atlantic Sapphire has a facility in Florida which when complete will grow an estimated 50% of the USA demand for farmed salmon. Nordic Aquafarms has 2 projects, one in Maine and another in California. Whole Oceans has a project in Maine. And around the world facilities are being built, close to population centers. Water is filtered and treated. Risks from disease and sea lice are eliminated. Cooke could be a shining example of the future if they wanted to be. Or were forced to be. Or they could return to Canada.

Get involved. Cooke is. 
Canadian owned Cooke Aquaculture and operators before them have dominated the political process in Washington State. Cooke's alleged negligence in 2017 which led to the collapse of the Cypress Island net pen and subsequent release of over 250,000 nonnative Atlantic salmon motivated the public and legislators to ban these operations in Puget Sound. Cook's current attempt to claim these genetically altered rainbow are "native steelhead" is not what the public intended when legislation was passed in 2018. Cooke and their lobbyists are now heavily involved in convincing regulators and legislators that in fact, this is what the public intended.

Educate yourself on Our Sound Our Salmon's website, then submit meaningful comments. If you don't you'll end up with what somebody else wants.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Geoduck Market Experiences a Collapse: Washington considers it a junk clam for a reason.

The Junk Bond of Clams

They taste like they look. Unless you're Chinese.
Like the collapse of the junk bond market
so too is the market for geoduck collapsing.

Most Washington citizens have considered the geoduck clam to be little more than a junk clam. Beyond its size, there was little it had to offer. It was difficult to dig, difficult to cook, and difficult to chew. It had no intrinsic economic value beyond its odd shape.

The junk clam becomes a phallic symbol
with marketers in WA convincing Chinese men...

I've got the cure for what ails you.
Then somebody discovered a weak point in the Chinese culture, men specifically, convincing  them a  Puget Sound clam was the cure. The junk clam became the item in China which would solve whatever it was Chinese men felt they were lacking. With a wink and a nod, and disbelief to  Washington State citizens, a market exploded in China and the junk clam experienced a demand never dreamed of. Like shark fins, Manta Ray gills, Black Bear gall bladders, a superstition was born. An extraction business in Washington's tidelands exploded. Geoduck over 130 years old (believed to be the longest living species) began to be clear cut from subtidal lands and commercial farms with PVC tubing appeared  in the intertidal areas. 

You too can become rich. 
We'll keep 85% of the revenue
and farm whenever we think it's best,
however much we think we should.
Your tidelands? No, you can't use them now.
That's fair, isn't it?

A fungus spreads in Washington's tidelands.
With the demand for geoduck came the demand for tidelands which never naturally supported the densities planted, let alone the plastic tubes and netting required for this mono-culture to take hold. Like the carpet baggers of the south, growers knocked on doors, left fliers and called tideland owners who were unaware of the value they had in those tidelands. Worse was the control they were giving away. Not known was when their lease was signed, the percentage of revenues paid was nothing more than an amount agreed on among a few growers as "fair"  (as low as 10%, predominantly 15%, maybe higher if someone signed a decades long lease). It is an oligopoly in the classic meaning of the word. Their properties became encumbered for decades, with the commercial operations in some cases reducing the value of their neighbors' property.   

"Don't I have some say
in when you harvest these clams?"
Didn't read the fine print in the lease.

If you don't know the value of what you have...
Of significance today, given up by tideland owners in their leases to these few growers was control over when their tidelands would be harvested, as well as use of them. Today, as written about in the Seattle Times, as a result of a tariff war between China and the USA, and changing "tastes", the geoduck market has collapsed. The "wild" geoduck are now fetching $6/pound versus $16/pound in the first quarter of 2016, a drop of over 60%. Cultured prices, depending on who you listen to at what point in time, have dropped from 25% to 45% from their peak.

Like a bank, geoduck growers are insulated
when a market collapses.
 "Why were geoduck on my tidelands harvested
at the low point of the market?" Good question, 
but a little late to ask.

A tariff war is never good, especially when product is available from other countries. 
In any business there is risk which, in theory, is taken on by the producers, or in this case, those leasing tidelands to grow geoduck or those bidding on wild geoduck. In the case of wild geoduck, Washington's Department of Natural Resources provided "financial relief" to the bidders when tariffs initially caused prices to drop. Those leasing tidelands weren't so fortunate. Instead, they found growers who had leased their tidelands were harvesting at the lowest price in recent history, and they had no say in whether they should wait for higher prices to arrive. That control they gave away, along with encumbering the title of their property for decades. Meanwhile, Canada, Mexico and New Zealand benefited from the battle between China and the USA, selling their geoduck, tariff free.

Think politics doesn't matter?
It will when it comes to tariffs.
He who put tariffs on
can take tariffs off and claim
a "great deal" has been made,
whether real or not.

Your geoduck are gone, but mine are just waiting for prices to rise.
Anyone who believes the current tariffs between the United States and China will remain in place as the election approaches is naive. Too much is at stake during election cycles, and this is no different. Between now and election time, there will be a "great deal" made between the US and China, and with it the removal of tariffs. And when those tariffs are gone, geoduck prices will once again rise to levels significantly higher than today. But those who leased their tidelands will have nothing to sell, having had them harvested by growers who, because prices were low, paid even less to those whose tidelands were leased (lower revenue times X% means less paid out to the lessor). On the other hand, geoduck growing on tidelands owned by the growers, tidelands purchased with the immense profits generated in years past, simply waited for higher prices to return, and can now begin harvesting.* A "great deal".
*Seattle Shellfish, Arcadia Point Seafood and Taylor Shellfish, directly or indirectly,  separately or together, have purchased large tracts of tidelands over the past decade in South Puget Sound, on which they have planted large tracts of geoduck. Examples include tideland parcels purchased in Spencer Cove on Harstine Island; Totten Inlet's Totten Shores; and Fudge Point on Harstine Island. Even well paid "scientists", involved in creating studies, purchased tidelands along the shoreline of Totten Inlet. All tidelands growing geoduck which don't have to be harvested at low prices because all have leased tidelands which have geoduck which can be harvested, and from which a lower rent will be paid. 
Banks don't lose and tideland owners likely aren't too happy. But business is tough.
The two markets - wild and cultivated - have experienced a significant loss in revenue and with it planning. Bank loans made based on prices now driven down by the current tariffs are in question. The Seattle Times article mentions salmon restoration projects being impacted because DNR's revenues are expected to be lower, leading to less in the Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account (ALEA).* (The Times notes $28 million from geoduck auction, of which the LEAP legislative document shows $6.6 million being allocated to ALEA.) And tideland owners wonder whether that lease they signed and encumbered their property with for, in some cases decades, was such a good deal after all. But that's business.
*A portion of revenues received by DNR from aquatic leases and wild geoduck harvest are allocated to the Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account (ALEA) which was intended to enhance public access to aquatic lands and for "restoring shorelines for salmon habitat." The LEAP document for 2019 shows projects in the ALEA account totaling $6.6 million. The Seattle Times notes revenues from geoduck auctions for wild geoduck totaling $28 million. It's not known where the $21.2 million difference was allocated to.
Business is tough. Products whose price is artificially inflated are laden with risk. Risk which has now come home to roost in the geoduck market.

Friday, October 11, 2019

US District Court Rules Against US Army Corps' Shellfish Permits: Impact analysis and environmental assessment were inadequate.

Decision will have impact 

on current proposals.

US District Court rules that Nationwide 48 permits for aquaculture issued by the US Army Corps were based on an inadequate "...impact analysis and environmental assessment".
Read complete decision here: https://app.box.com/s/dwftuu3wnam6bxfv32qlq5e03wo5t0hr
(Read original case filed by Coalition here:
(Read Center for Food Safety filing here:
(Read Swinomish Tribe complaint, also considered, here:

Clalllam County permitting decision just lost
a significant leg: US District Court rules
the Corps' analysis was inadequate.
This does not belong in the
Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge.
(Comments due by Nov 21)

"The Corps’ issuance of a nationwide permit, at least with respect to activities in the waters of the State of Washington, was arbitrary and capricious and not in accordance with NEPA or the CWA. Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 706(2), the Court holds unlawful and sets aside NWP 48 insofar as it authorizes activities in Washington."

One small farm lead to another, and another,
and another, and another....
Which all added together make a difference.
And the Corps didn't consider that.

Never give up
For over a decade the Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat, driven by Laura Hendricks, has been saying there was never an adequate cumulative impacts analysis done in order to determine whether small discrete projects, taken as a whole, had a significant and adverse impact on Puget Sound's critical marine habitat. Today the US District Court agreed.

PVC tubes and netting are transforming
Puget Sound's critical marine habitat.
Zangle Cove is only one area
where expansion is occurring.

Native aquatic vegetation is displaced by shellfish farms.

Shellfish farming impacts eelgrass, a critical habitat.
Agreeing with the Coalition and Center For Food Safety, as well as considering a case brought the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community over concerns about impacts to eelgrass, the decision still to be made will be whether to vacate all of the Nationwide 48 permits issued, or to consider what the Swinomish may suggest. The tribe has until November 15 to file papers. Also being allowed to file papers on alternatives to cancelling all Nationwide 48 permits issued will be the intervenors, Taylor Shellfish and the Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association, and defendant, the Corps of Engineers.

Net pen fish farming is only one
of the many forms aquaculture takes.
Its impacts are additive to the 
marine ecosystem.
Tell WDFW their analysis of Cooke Aquaculture's proposal
to grow steelhead in Puget Sound was inadequate
and an Environmental Impact Statement 
analyzing ALL alternatives, including upland/contained systems
needs to be performed.
Email here: SEPAdesk2@dfw.wa.gov
Comments due by Oct 22

Get involved. Marine ecosystems are being impacted by many shapes and in many ways.
Get involved and make a difference in helping to protect the critical marine habitat as The Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat, Center for Food Safety, and the Swinomish Tribe did.
See Coalition web site here:
See Center for Food Safety site here:
See Swinomish site here:

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

1.8 Million Farmed Salmon Die from Warming Waters - Puget Sound Does not Need Steelhead Farming by Cooke Aquaculture

Tell WDFW an EIS is required.
Comments: SEPAdesk2@dfw.wa.gov (By Oct 22)

WDFW did not consider the alternative of 
an upland and contained operation
on property Cooke Aquaculture owns
nor impacts from climate change.
Riverence grows "steelhead"* in fresh water.
Cooke Aquaculture can as well.
They don't need Puget Sound to discharge 
untreated plumes of waste into. 
Read about Riverence steelhead here:
"We feed them a steelhead diet that is rich in Astaxanthin, 
which is the micronutrient that gives ocean-run steelhead their rich red flesh color, 
without requiring the ocean."

Cooke Aquaculture's Scatter Creek Hatchery
5 miles from Cooke's 300+ acres.
Upland and contained, where the first phase
of  genetically altered "steelhead" grow-out occurs.

Climate change is real and Puget Sound's waters are warming
Puget Sound's waters are warming and Canadian owned Cooke Aquaculture wants to extend use of its open net pens by converting to genetically altered sterile female rainbow trout they want to call "steelhead". Cooke Aquaculture owns 360+ acres in rural Rochester they could convert to upland/contained facilities. Puget Sound does not need the risk seen below, and upland/contained facilities was not an alternative considered by WDFW.
See WDFW public notice here: https://wdfw.wa.gov/news/wdfw-seeks-sepa-public-comment-cooke-aquaculture-farming-rainbow-troutsteelhead
See article on tribal involvement here: https://www.peninsuladailynews.com/news/tribe-in-partnership-with-cooke-aquaculture-eyeing-steelhead-fish-farm-in-port-angeles-harbor/
See article on state leases here: https://crosscut.com/2019/08/still-recovering-escaped-atlantic-salmon-cooke-aquaculture-now-wants-farm-steelhead

"It's natural"
Really? No - it's not.
Vessels pump up, then out, salmon remnants 
from the salmon die-off. Workers scoop
the visible pieces up. 

Open net pens are additive point sources of pollution
In Canada there is an environmental disaster unfolding with up to 1.8 million farmed salmon having died due to warm waters in late August and early September. Open net pens operated by Mowi experienced waters warm enough and oxygen levels low enough that salmon contained within the nets perished. The cleanup has begun with whatever may have been left alive being transported to a processing plant, with the smell being described as being so bad "you could taste it". The operator simply said "it's natural" and nature will clean it all up.
(Read about the cleanup here: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-newfoundlanders-raise-a-stink-after-18-million-dead-farmed-salmon-are/)

"Salmon Butter" coats the shorelines

Cat food or salmon butter?
Others disagree with the simplistic perception that this is simply "natural" and should be ignored. In an interview with Biologist Dr Ian Jones, he compared it to the equivalence of an oil spill. Beyond the smell, he describes the impacts from the pink affluent and fish oil as being similar to a crude oil spill. Workers who are attempting to clean up the dead salmon describe the discharge of rotting salmon as "salmon butter". Whatever may be alive, or useable, is transported to a processing plant in Burgeo, NL where the Mayor has described the stench as "This stuff smelled so bad you could almost taste it." (See article here: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/mark-lane-burgeo-mayor-aquaculture-1.5313010)
"Under their breath, the cleanup crews call it salmon butter: the pink, coagulated sludge that has taken over a remote stretch of Newfoundland’s south shore." (From https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-newfoundlanders-raise-a-stink-after-18-million-dead-farmed-salmon-are/)
You can't regulate from behind a desk.
Get out.

Regulatory oversight - or lack thereof
Agency oversight has been called into question as the person in charge has yet to visit the area. This despite the event having been reported to the public in September, and its having begun in late August and early September.
"Nope, it doesn't look very pretty at all, I can tell you that," says Gerry Byrne, who has not visited the site himself. From: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/gerry-byrne-salmon-dieoff-reaction-1.5314433
Cooke's collapsed net pen in Puget Sound
Does Cooke really need another nightmare?
Does Puget Sound?

Cooke Aquaculture has already had one public relations disaster. Do they need another? Does Puget Sound?
Canadian owned Cooke Aquaculture does not need Puget Sound to grow "steelhead", whether genetically altered or not. As noted above, Riverence has been very successful in marketing "steelhead" grown in fresh water, fed a diet which rainbow trout might eat in the ocean. Consumers seem happy to accept that as "good enough". Cooke owns over 300 acres in a rural area where incentives to create a new and modern "steelhead" farm could motivate Cooke to reconsider this plan. And avoid a second public relations disaster.

Get involved - If you're not you'll be stuck with what you get.
Washington State does not need this. The impacts from it are additive, and only increase the stressors experienced. Cooke has the property, the technology exists, and the public accepts that "steelhead" do not need to be grown in salt water.

*Steelhead and Rainbow trout are genetically identical (unless altered to become sterile females, as Cooke proposes) with the only difference being Steelhead are Rainbow which migrate to the ocean and return to fresh water to spawn.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Burley Lagoon clam die-off: Just move along. We have this all under control. Really?

There are lots more bad clams out there 
in Burley Lagoon, so have it.

It's foggy out there.
After residents along the shoreline of Burley Lagoon and nearby areas pointed out to Taylor Shellfish, Pierce County, the Department of Health, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Sea Grant, directly or indirectly, that there had been a large clam die off on the tidelands of the enclosed estuary, there is no more clarity on the cause than before.

Death of a clam is "not an anomalous event." What about the death of thousands?
What is clear is this was a significant event. As in Rocky Bay, Burley Lagoon too was a commercially planted tideland with high densities of nonnative Manila clams planted. In both cases "crops" of clams died, surfaced and began to rot. Pierce County noted that "die offs are not anomalous events" and they will happen again. If they will happen again, and the result is a "stench so bad it almost knocked me over" (Rocky Bay resident), shouldn't there be some sort of urgency to determine exactly what caused these massive die offs in south Puget Sound, Discovery Bay, and now Burley Lagoon? Spread over a period of months?

Toxic Bloom: We have samples, but we need more testing, so we'll just keep harvesting oysters.
When contacted, Taylor Shellfish claimed there was a "toxic algae bloom." There was a vagueness to what that toxic bloom was, with words to the effect that more testing needed to be done. The Department of Health was unaware of any such bloom and was unsure of the exact cause. Temperatures weren't abnormally high and Taylor had apparently said nothing to them. Or any of the other agencies.

Their experts are on it.
Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department responded that WDFW and the DOH had their experts looking at it, and based on conversations with them, there was no problem. Except that a large area of commercially planted nonnative clams had surfaced, died, and begun to rot. For unknown reasons. With waters of Burley Lagoon spreading that rot and oysters filtering that rot.

Crabs and birds will get through the predator nets and "clean it up". On their schedule.
WDFW said the crabs and birds would clean up the mess, even with predator nets in place. Predator nets in place to keep crabs and birds off of the tidelands. There was little concern over whether those species would be impacted by whatever toxins may have killed the clams. Rotting on the tidelands, dead from an unknown cause. In an estuary with low flushing.

DOH: Oysters filtering waters with rotting clams and unknown toxin is not a problem.
The DOH, like the others, was unsure of the cause but felt it may have been related to the large die off in Rocky Bay and an area near Vaughn. This was a die off which had occurred in June, almost 3 months ago, and was apparently now repeating itself. With thousands of clams rotting in Burley Lagoon and oysters doing what they do best - filtering that water. And being harvested for consumption.

Sea Grant: We need more grant money. 
Sea Grant and their marine scientists who have helped support the expansion of aquaculture in south Puget Sound are still unsure of what the cause of the Rocky Bay event was, and are now requesting additional funds for further studies. While waiting for an answer from these experts, another massive die off has occurred in Burley Lagoon. Another die off which has resulted in a similar "stench which almost knocked me over" (a Rocky Bay resident). Another die off whose cause is unknown and which will not be cleaned up by anyone.

NAMBI: Not against my business or industry.
Shoreline residents whose properties  are the most heavily regulated in the state through the Shoreline Management Act and now Pierce County's updated Shoreline Master Program expect to see similar attention on developments in the tidelands. And actions when those industrial level developments create industrial level impacts. Instead, what they hear is Taylor Shellfish testifying before the Pierce County Council during the SMP update hearing that not enough was being done for them. A hearing at which numerous amendments to address their prior concerns were adopted. After they appealed the original proposal to the Growth Management Hearings Board, which found in their favor. Still, they want more.

It's aquaculture. Our commercial activities are more important than you.
Now, residents who own shoreline property, property which is heavily regulated and restricted, look at the tidelands which once grew shellfish in reasonable numbers. Without a past in which die offs were not a regular event and which did not impact the public's use of waters and shoreline. Without predator nets and without PVC tubes. Without a "stench which almost knocked me over."

Get involved. If Pierce County believes the state law needs to change in order to de-prioritize aquaculture, they will do it. You should to. Because the stench will only get worse.