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:

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Shoreline Managment Act: A Gift From the Past to Preserve

Over this holiday season, consider the gift which was given to us by the legislature and voters in 1971 and 1972 respectively:  the Shoreline Management Act, RCW 90.58.020.  The shellfish industry being unhappy with the current permitting process - a public process they have been involved in crafting for years - should not drive any attempt to minimize what has evolved.

The Shoreline Management Act was a direct outcome from an attempt to transform the Nisqually Delta into a deep water port.  This legislative act and the voters of Washington State said profits for a few should not drive development decisions within the shorline areas of Puget Sound.  The continuity of habitat functions for the future of everyone is far more important than simply "jobs and the economy."

From the Shoreline Management Act:
The legislature declares that the interest of all of the people shall be paramount in the management of shorelines of statewide significance. The department, in adopting guidelines for shorelines of statewide significance, and local government, in developing master programs for shorelines of statewide significance, shall give preference to uses in the following order of preference which:
     (1) Recognize and protect the statewide interest over local interest;
     (2) Preserve the natural character of the shoreline;
     (3) Result in long term over short term benefit;
     (4) Protect the resources and ecology of the shoreline;
     (5) Increase public access to publicly owned areas of the shorelines;
     (6) Increase recreational opportunities for the public in the shoreline;
     (7) Provide for any other element as defined in RCW
90.58.100 deemed appropriate or necessary.
Consider the gift we are being asked to leave the coming generations by "streamlining the permitting process" which is the major part of Governor Gregoire's and NOAA's "Shellfish Initiative."  Was it the intent of this legislative act and the voters who passed it to "streamline" a permitting process for an activity which fragments the intertidal habitat of Puget Sound as the current methods of shellfish aquaculture do?   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lC1IjM45UbU&feature=player_embedded

The current industrial methods used by the shellfish industry are not those used by shellfish growers when the Shoreline Management Act was passed.  The focus on these current activties and the time being taken to determine whether they are in the best interest of all the people and Puget Sound's habitat, through the sound permitting process in place, is exactly why the Shoreline Management Act was passed. 

NOAA's attempt to "streamline" this regulatory oversight which has evolved over the past 4 years is being driven by the commercial shellfish industry for their benefit.   

Write to the Governor and your local, state and federal representatives and tell them this is contrary to what the Shoreline Management Act's purpose was and you do not support any attempts to "streamline" the permitting process. 
Preserve the gift which was given to everyone 40 years ago which has protected Puget Sound and prevented it from becoming Chesapeake Bay.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Gregoire Priorities: A future job or protecting Puget Sound?

Governor Gregoire announced with great regalia the need for "permit streamlining" so Taylor could, among other things, expand its non-native mussel farm to meet demand.  While a few important incentives were included, the priority of the "shellfish initiative" is to speed the expansion of shellfish farming in Puget Sound.

Not mentioned is how Taylor and the Governor intend on dealing with the non-native invasive tunicate problem Taylor's farms have, putting Puget Sound habitat at risk.  Why? Perhaps the groundwork for future employment is being put in place. We all need a job.

Non- native Invasive Tunicates from Taylor's Mussel Farm

In a 2007 the Seattle Times reported: Fearful of the potential impacts on the Sound's ecosystem and the local shellfish industry, the state for the first time last year dedicated $250,000 to tracking and removing the tunicates. Gov. Christine Gregoire is asking in her current budget proposal for $500,000 to continue the work.

In 2011 the Governor cut $30 million from the WDFW budget which included support for erradicating these non-native invasive tunicates.

In this Youtube video of Non-native mussels and tunicates in Totten Inlet (click for youtube video of Taylor's mussel farm) you can see how pervasive they are. At 1:35 Gordon King with Taylor displays a handful of mussels and non-native invasive tunicates. His response in March of 2008 to the problem? “I don’t see it as a problem at this stage,” he said. “That doesn’t mean it won’t be one.”

The way tunicates spread (“If you let chunks go, they go off and form new colonies,”) Taylor's harvesting of mussels creates a perfect means for this species to spread.

Gretchen Lambert (an expert on tunicates) is quoted in various articles as saying:
Didemnum [seen in the picture above and in the video clip], she said, “is potentially the worst one.”

“People tend to ignore tunicates until they are so abundant they can’t be ignored any longer,” said Gretchen Lambert, a Seattle marine biologist who has studied invasive tunicates all over the world.

Is the Governor looking for a future job or protecting Puget Sound for the citizens she still represents?   One step the Governor could take is to restore funding to help erradicate this non-native invasive species - if it's not too late.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Citizens File Petition to Ammend Shoreline Regulations, not Streamline Them

Case Inlet Shoreline Association and the Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat have petitioned the Department of Ecology to amend WAC 173-26-241(3)(b) Aquaculture Standards.

This petition has been filed to correct a legally flawed opinion by the Attorney General carried forward into Ecology's recent guidance regulations, specifically focused on geoduck aquaculture.  As noted earlier, a recent court decision determined geoduck aquaculture does in fact use structures and thereby meets the definition of a development, requiring a shoreline permit, just as all developments along the shoreline do, whether a dock; a bulkhead; or a home.
http://www.caseinlet.org/uploads/taylor_10-21-11.pdf (Judge's transcript)

When asked how this fits with the shellfish initiative to "streamline" the permitting process, the simple answer is "it doesn't."  "Streamlining" the permit process for aquaculture is not what the Shoreline Management Act and the Clean Water Act are in place for.  They are in place to protect the very unique and valuable habitat which Puget Sound provides, for everyone and everything, not just the shellfish industry.  As seen in this brief youtube slide show, the shellfish industry is transforming the tideland habitat of Puget Sound in a way which will forever degrade the biodiversity provided from this habitat area:  http://youtu.be/lC1IjM45UbU 

Totten Inlet Non-native Mussel Farm
Slated for Expansion
With Non-native invasive Tunicate Problems

The recently announced initiative does contain important components in the form of restoration of native species; financial assistance for upland owners' failing septic systems; financial assistance for
cattle and dairy farmers; and, increased access to publicly owned shoreline.  But make no mistake:  this effort is primarily an attempt to bypass regulations which have evolved over the past four years which the shellfish industry does not like.

Many citizens have watched the transformation of aquaculture from small mom and pop operations to large corporate entities.  Anyone who cares about Puget Sound should be very concerned about attempts to "streamline" permitting.  If this is allowed to move forward, future generations will only look back on this time and say "What were they thinking?"

You can help by supporting Case Inlet Shoreline Association (http://www.caseinlet.org/) and the Sierra Club (http://washington.sierraclub.org/tatoosh/Aquaculture/index.asp).

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Fudge Point Acquired by The Trust for Public Land

Fudge Point has been acquired by The Trust for Public Land. 
Outlined in red below are the uplands and tidelands (to mean low tide) which were purchased.  Tidelands between mean low tide and extreme low tide were excluded.  The pedestrian easement between extreme low tide and high tide which was established by Ralph Scott in 1991 to benefit the upland owners was extinguished by Taylor Shellfish and Russell and Richard Scott before the sale. 

Fudge Point Acquisition
(lines are approximate)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

"There isn't any place I'm aware of that the tunicates are causing harm on the shellfish farms,"

Why would Taylor Shellfish state "There isn't any place I'm aware of that the tunicates are causing harm on the shellfish farms,"
"When Washington's Legislature trimmed $30 million, or 27 percent, from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife's budget, three employees who had been diving in the Puget Sound to hunt down invasive sea squirts lost their jobs.
The gelatinous invaders, known as tunicates, form a goopy mat on the sea floor, raising fears that they will hurt the shellfish industry, as they have in eastern Canada.
"We are basically addressing tunicates on an emergency basis only," said Allen Pleus, Washington state's aquatic invasive species coordinator..."There isn't any place I'm aware of that the tunicates are causing harm on the shellfish farms," said Bill Dewey, of Taylor Shellfish Farms in Shelton, Wash."

Images from Woodshole seem to clearly show non-native invasive Tunicates causing harm at Taylor Shellfish's mussel rafts in Totten Inlet:
The British Columbia Shellfish Growers Association says this on their Aquatic Invasive Species page:
"On Canada’s East coast, invasive tunicates have resulted in significant grow-out, harvesting and processing challenges for the mussel farming industry."
"Tunicates can out compete and suffocate filter feeding bivalves such as mussels and oysters."

Taylor Shellfish has a great deal to loose if their mussel farm is found to be a vector for non-native invasive tunicates.  Taylor Shellfish has a great deal to loose if these tunicates smother their cultured mussels (which the Woodshole images seem to show clearly happening).  Taylor Shellfish has a great deal to loose if what they believe isn't currently causing harm begins to smother oysters which other growers in Totten Inlet and south Puget Sound are culturing.

Sometimes it is better to react to a problem before it becomes an ecological disaster.  Washington State should reconsider its budget cut which eliminated the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife's program to control invasive tunicates.  Taylor Shellfish should reconsider their statement, for the good of everyone, and work towards helping reinstate funding for WDFW to control this very real threat to Puget Sound's ecosystem.