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:

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Tell DNR and USFWS It's a Wildlife Refuge

Get involved and make a difference for today and tomorrow, to help preserve one of the few National Wildlife Refuges supporting the great migrations of sea birds. An industrial shellfish farm does not belong in the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge

Plastic Grow Out Bags Do Not Belong in a Wildlife Refuge

Beyond Pesticides has written a piece on why plastic grow out bags do not belong in a Wildlife Refuge, which includes a link for comments

As they note so well: 

The Dungeness Bay Wildlife Refuge was created by Executive Order in 1915 by Woodrow Wilson, directing the area to be set aside as a “refuge, preserve and breeding ground for native birds and prohibits any disturbance of the birds within the reserve.” The Refuge provides habitat, a preserve and breeding grounds for more than 250 species of birds and 41 species of land animals. 

The front page of the Refuge website states: “Pets, bicycles, kite flying, Frisbees, ball-playing, camping, and fires are not permitted on the Refuge as they are a disturbance for the many migrating birds and other wildlife taking solitude on the Refuge.” With this level of concern, it is counterintuitive to allow destructive industrial aquaculture. 

Beyond Pesticides Article

Submit Comments Here

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

It only takes a little bit: 10 billion, only 10 to get you sick

CBC News on the Norovirus outbreak from oysters harvested in British Columbia.
(Read article here:

The aquatic environment is impacted by many things, from climate change to recreational owners of boats discharging untreated waste to failing septic systems to ecosystem transformation from industrial aquaculture. In this article from CBC, the impact of what is suspected to be human waste has impacted the reputation of industrial shellfish operations in BC through illnesses contracted from the consumption of raw oysters. 

Friday, January 14, 2022

 WA Supreme Court Affirms Non-native Atlantic Salmon Should not be Grown in Puget Sound

Leaves Unanswered Whether Extra Genetic Material in Triploids are Native or Not

Washington Supreme Court affirmed unanimously, 9-0, that non-native Atlantic salmon do not belong in Washington's Puget Sound. All agreed that the Department of Fish and Wildlife did not have to require an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) when Cooke Aquaculture proposed moving to triploid Rainbow trout. It left unanswered whether the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) should renew leases and what should be considered in that decision. Whether British Columbia will follow and remove non-native Atlantic salmon remains unknown as is whether Rainbow trout with extra genetic material is "native" or not. 

Normal (left) and  Extra Genetic Material (right)

= a sterile female 

(is a triploid native?)

Monday, December 20, 2021

Army Corps is sued again by the Center for Food Safety (CFS) and the Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat (Coalition). The suit once again asks the court to stop the Corps from "...continuing the excessive expansion of industrial shellfish operations without considering the cumulative impacts to Washington's rich and diverse coastal waters [and tidelands]."

(See article here: https://olyopen.com/2021/12/20/groups-again-sue-army-corps-to-protect-washingtons-coastal-areas-and-endangered-species-from-industrial-shellfish-operations/)

(See papers filed here: https://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/files/2021-12-20--ecf-01--complaint_33955.pdf)

Amy Van Saun, senior attorney at CFS notes, “Despite clear statutory mandates and a previous court decision requiring the government to fully consider the potential impacts of proposed shellfish operations, the Corps continues to ignore its duties by allowing industrial shellfish operations to degrade important aquatic habitats, including through the use of plastics and pesticides, endangering Washington’s shorelines, biodiversity, and surrounding communities,” said Amy van Saun, senior attorney at CFS.

Laura Hendricks, director of the Coalition notes, “The Coalition is outraged that the Corps would try to avoid doing what is necessary as a bare minimum under the law to protect orcas, salmon, and marine life in Washington from the toxic and physical impacts of the massive number of industrial-scale aquaculture operations that have been proposed. This is precisely the sort of agency action that gives ‘government’ a bad name.”

Puget Sound's marine ecosystem is under pressure from a number of sources. While some argue "ecosystem services" from shellfish outweigh the transformation occurring to this critical habitat, it cannot simply be accepted without looking at the entire system and the cumulative impacts various actions have. This was argued once in court and was won. That it has to be argued again simply speaks to an agency's inability to do what it's role is.

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.