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, April 27, 2011

Cumulative Impacts of Geoduck Farming

"What are the cumulative impacts from geoduck farming and do they really matter?" 

This is a question the Army Corps and the Department of Ecology are now asking themselves as they review new permit applications for geoduck farms. Everyone should.  An isolated geoduck farm may be relatively inconsequential.  As a whole they may be transforming vast areas of Puget Sound's intertidal tideland ecosystem. 

With ~350 acres of geoduck farms already existing, permit applications for new farms have begun.  Three of the 9 new applications are for 12 acres on Fudge Point, just south of McMicken Island State Park, on Harstine Island, seen in this photograph taken early April of this year.  These contiguous proposed farms span the area from Buffington's Lagoon around Fudge Point, covering an area roughly equivalent to 4 football fields.  This is in addition to existing geoduck farms to the north.

Fudge Point (April 2011)

Seen below is an area of similar size which already exists at the mouth of Eld Inlet.  Multi-year geoduck plantings create a near contiguous strip within the intertidal zone of -4 to +2 elevations, spanning thousands of feet.  At the mouth of Totten Inlet are similar areas on both sides.  Harvesting occurs over periods of years with peaks during high Chinese market demand.

Eld Inlet (April 2011)

Supporting the existing farms now is a growing infrastructure.  Included are areas where the PVC pipe used in farming (44,000/acre) is piled; bagged; and, then shipped to various locations throughout Puget Sound.  Seen in the photograph below is one of those areas where apparently state owned tidelands on Harstine Island have been converted to a shipping facility.

Spencer Cove Lagoon (April 2011)

Also included in geoduck farming are "nurseries" used to grow geoduck seed to a larger size which increases their survivability overall, but more importantly, in the higher tidal elevations (+1 to +3) thereby increasing the acreage which may be planted. Rafts, trays and wading pools are used.  Seen below are close to 900 such pools, now removed due to tideland impacts.  However, the Army Corps and the Department of Ecology now allow individual farms to use these pools, in essence, creating an impact wherever there is a farm needing a "nursery." 

Nursery Pools (2008?)

Cumulative impacts do matter. 
NEPA regulations define cumulative impact as: "the impact on the environment which results from the incremental impact of the action when added to other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions regardless of what agency (Federal or non-Federal) or person undertakes such other actions. Cumulative impacts can result from individually minor but collectively significant actions taking place over a period of time." [See 40 CFR 1508.7.]

The Clean Water Act requires the Army Corps and the Department of Ecology to consider impacts to Puget Sound ecosystems on a scale larger than a single farm.  The public process allows citizens to remind those agencies involved about that fact.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thurston County Board agrees: geoduck farms require SDP

Loose tubes from an unauthorized planting of geoduck tubes on state tideland on Henderson Inlet in Thurston County. Photo taken on 6/1/07. DNR required removal of tubes. This is in the near vicinity of the private tidelands in the case outlined below.

Taylor Shellfish Farms and Arcadia Point Seafood challenged the hearings examiner's January 21, 2011 decision that applications for geoduck farms now require a Substantial Development Permit to go forward. The Memorandum of the Decision of the Board of Thurston County Commmisioners finds agreement with the hearings examiner:

"The Board finds that the hearings examiner's detailed statutory interpretation of the term "development", as it applies to Appellants proposed geoduck operations, is consistent with the plain language of the Shoreline Management Act and Washington Administrative Code. The hearing examiner's interpretation also implements the fundamental policies of the SMA to fully protect our fragile shorelines."

Monday, April 4, 2011

Army Corps Seeks Public Comment

Taylor Shellfish geoduck farm on Totten Inlet, around 2007, found to be illegally planted on state owned tidelands.

The US Army Corps of Engineers seeks public comment on the possible installation of a new 2-acre Taylor Shellfish Farm in Totten Inlet. The ACOE has seen an increase in applications for geoduck farms and an increase in the size of the farms. Read the announcement in the Mason County Journal article. Comments on this farm are due April 14, 2011. Go to this ACOE site for information about how to submit comments and the email address of the project manager.