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:

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Geoducks in Burley Lagoon, Purdy

90 Acre Geoduck Operation
Proposed for Burley Lagoon

Burley Lagoon
(near Purdy, Pierce County)
(from Google Earth)

"Friends of Burley Lagoon" have reported Western Oyster Company's agent, David Steele with Tarboo Enterprises, LLC in Olympia, has applied to Pierce County for a Shoreline Substantial Development Permit and a Shoreline Conditional Use permit to harvest wild and seeded geoduck in Burley Lagoon.  The permit application describes harvesting by divers of the areas below Mean Low Water within Burley Lagoon.  Not described in the permit is what neighbors have described as Taylor Shellfish employees populating Burley Lagoon with PVC pipes for future "crops" and a "request" to stay off of the tidelands.

Dive harvesting in Burley Lagoon will destroy documented Pacific Herring spawning habitat and, through sediment disruption, greatly impair one of the few habitat areas used by Chinook Salmon, Steelhead Trout, and Coast Resident Sea Run Cutthroat (see Priority Habitat Map from WDFW below).  With the recent visit of Orcas (an endangered species) into this south Puget Sound area, and their dependence on these species as a food source, their importance and the habitat they depend on cannot be overstated.

The adverse impact from dive harvesting on the subtidal area is why DNR does not allow it in water depths less than 18 feet and is, in part, why the Department of Ecology did not allow dive harvesting in the Section 401 permit issued to Trident Marine (see earlier posts below).

As of August 26, Pierce County Senior Planner Mojgan K. Carlson has stopped taking public comments.  Citizens are still able to contact Mojgan at mcarlso@co.pierce.wa.us or 253-798-7234 and ask to be notified about the Public Hearing schedule. 

Priority Habitats of Burley Lagoon
(from WDFW)  

Ecology Rescinds Trident Marine 401 Certification

On August 30th the Department of Ecology rescinded its Section 401 Water Quality Certification issued to Trident Marine.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Clean Water Act Permitting of Geoduck Farms


(click on link to download the 6Mb decision document)

August 1, the Department of Ecology issued the first Section 401 Water Quality Certification for a geoduck farm in Puget Sound, with conditions.  The Army Corps has yet to issue its Section 404 permit.  Both are required under the Clean Water Act for new farms, or, in this case, a previously unpermitted farm.

Trident Marine's Unpermitted Farm in July of 2007
(click to enlarge)

Trident Marine's farm (above) was installed without prior authorization in July of 2007. The resolution to the violation resulted in the removal of the 10,000 PVC tubes and netting. Of the 30,000 geoducks planted, the Corps allowed those surviving to remain (~15,000, worth ~$500,000). As it was a new farm, harvesting requires approval from the Department of Ecology and the Army Corps of Engineers (Note: Unlike Thurston County who requires permits, Mason County does not regulate geoduck farming.)

Pocket Estuary and Wetland Drainage in April 2007, Before Unpermitted Installation
(click to enlarge)

This intertidal tideland area exists in a wetland drainage area where the combination of salt and fresh water creates an ecosystem of unique value supporting many important species.  It is located at the south end of Pickering Passage where spawning habitat for the Squaxin Island population of Herring; Sand Lance; Surf Smelt; and, Rock Sole exist.  All utilize this area as an important food source, in turn helping to support the salmon population in south Puget Sound. 

The Department of Ecology has recognized the importance of this area and the potential for significant degradation of the water quality and habitat from the operation of this farm.    To address their concerns, some of the conditions include:

1.  The Certification will be rescinded if the Corps does not issue a Section 404 permit (required under the Clean Water Act). 
2.  WAC 173-201A-201(1)(e)(i) allows a radius of 150' to be temporarily impacted from the sediments disturbed during harvesting.  If measurements or observations note any disturbed sediments carried beyond this distance, harvesting must cease immediately.
3.  Compliance with regulations must be documented through observations and measurements at specific distances and at specific times with results submitted for review. 
4.  No work or storage is allowed at tidal elevations of +5 or higher, a point which must be marked on the property's lateral lines and must be visible at high tide.* 
5.  Dive harvesting is not allowed nor are "nursery bins."
6.  No channeling or redirecting of surface water entering the project area is authorized.
7.  All tubes, netting and bands must be made of  "marine-application" material and be permanently marked or tagged to identify Trident as the owner.
(Note:  See Ecology's authorization for further details.)

Ecology's role through the Clean Water Act permit has addressed some of the concerns expressed over many years about what impact geoduck farming has on Puget Sound's tidelands.  It is through the evolving regulatory framework these impacts will be minimized and a healthy Puget Sound ecosystem will be maintained.  Still not addressed is what impact contiguous multiple farms, operating at the same time, are having.  (See earlier post on Cumulative Impacts.)

*The presumption of tideland boundaries following the upland parcel lines is not correct.  Shown below is their more likely location.
(click to enlarge)