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, March 28, 2012

PCC Natural Markets' Sound Consumer Article Questions Shellfish Initiative

A PCC Natural Markets' Sound Consumer article takes a hard look at Washington's aquaculture and questions the shellfish initiative, recently put forth by the Governor and NOAA: "Washington shellfish initiative: Is it sustainable?" (click to read article).

Puget Sound's tideland ecosystem is unique in the world.  Its habitat supports species which have evolved over thousands of years, many of which are not found anywhere else in the world.  Methods used by industrial aquaculture's large corporations today are extracting that value and replacing it with non-native species, PVC tubes, and are smothering the tidelands with grow-out bags.

With 45,000 members PCC is the nation's largest consumer owned natural food retail co-operative in the nation.  Started in 1953 and incorporated in 1961 as Puget Consumer Cooperative, PCC Natural Markets has grown to nine stores and is at the forefront of supporting local, sustainable agriculture. 

Called out specifically in the article are shellfish grown in Willapa Bay where the chemical Carbaryl has been sprayed for years and where the Department of Ecology is now proposing to allow Imazamox to be applied on commercial shellfish farms there and in Puget Sound.  Geoduck which are commercially grown in the intertidal areas in PVC tubes and harvested with water jets are also called out.  PCC states clearly that neither should be eligible for organic certification.

Mentioned in the article is support from Taylor Shellfish for the jobs which the shellfish initiative will create.  At the same time, shellfish lobbyists are in Washington DC telling congressmen the shellfish industry cannot fill the current jobs.  Why?  Because only immigrant migrant workers are willing to accept the minimal wages paid for the backbreaking work found in harvesting shellfish, especially during winter's midnight low tides. Were Cesar Chavez alive today he would no doubt be on the tidelands, organizing these workers.

Most importantly, the article correctly questions the claim that because shellfish are filter feeders, shellfish expansion should be allowed.  Using this to justify the altering of Puget Sound's tideland ecosystem is the most misguided belief being put forth by the shellfish industry.   Anyone having grown up near Lake Washington or Lake Sammamish knows it was not shellfish filtering the water which restored the lakes.  It was sound regulatory oversight which acknowledged there was an expense society as a whole needed to incur in order to ensure future generations would have clean water and healthy ecosystems.  A geoduck filtering water will not be what preserves Puget Sound's tideland habitat and species it supports for the future generations to enjoy.

Finally, PCC rightly acknowledges aquaculture can be sustainable and it can be organic. Those companies and those methods should be encouraged as PCC does. Supporting PCC Natural Markets will help ensure those companies and those methods are what thrives in Puget Sound.  And what nature has taken thousands of years to create will continue to exist for future generations.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Why Regulatory Oversight Matters

"Thousands of pounds
of illegal geoduck shipments
seized at Sea-Tac"
Seattle Times, 3/22/2012

Part 1:  People poach geoduck
Part 2:  Companies buy poached geoduck
Part 3:  Regulatory oversight is why this was discovered 

(picture from the Seattle Times)

There are three parts to this story.  The first is people have been poaching geoduck.  The second is companies are buying poached geoduck to ship to China.  The third is regulatory oversight is why this was discovered. 

Very few companies are involved in the export of geoduck to China.  Which ones have been overlooking the proper documentation has yet to be disclosed.  What is known is the shellfish industry does not like regulatory oversight.  Whenever regulations to control what has been a lightly regulated industry are proposed attorneys and lobbyists are brought out.

Most recently the Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association has pushed back against the Corps of Engineers recently announced Regional Conditions which would require permits for expansion and new farms.  The PCSGA position paper asking for Congress to exert pressure on the Corps is seen below and only reinforces the fact that they do not want to be regulated.  Why?  One word:  money.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Imazamox Comments to Ecology Posted


The Department of Ecology has posted comments received on their proposal to issue a permit for the application of Imazamox in Puget Sound, Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay to control Japanese eelgrass.  These comments from citizens, government agencies and organizations are overwhelmingly opposed to this permit being issued.
(click here for comments)

Long recognized for providing protective habitat for forage fish; being a food source for migratory birds; and providing surface area for Diatoms to grow on, the shellfish industry was able to convince the Noxious Weed Board it is a Class C Noxious Weed.  This in turn lead to the Department of Ecology's proposal to consider whether the herbicide Imazamox should be applied on commercial shellfish farms (a term not defined by anyone) in Puget Sound, Grays Harbor, and Willapa Bay.
(click here to read about eelgrass and habitat benefits)


US Fish and WildlifeTherefore we do not at this time support development of a NPDES and State Waste Discharge General Permit addressing the application of imazamox on commercial shellfish beds.
Department of Natural ResourcesDNR does not support issuance of a NPDES permit to allow imazamox to be broadly used to control Zostera japonica on aquaculture farms at this time.
Washington Department of Fish and WildlifeThe potential for adverse impacts to native eelgrass is of considerable concern to WDFW due to the high ecological value of native eelgrass to birds and aquatic species, including salmon.
Anderson Island Tidelands Group; Case Inlet Shoreline Association; Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat; Olympic Environmental Council; Sierra Club; Washington Waterfowl Association:  All are opposed to the widespread application of Imazamox.
Citizen Commentor:  ...a vast habitat is denied to countless organisms for the sake of profit from conveniently expanded production of invasive [and non-native] Manila clams..

Forgotten in the rush to react to another demand from the shellfish industry is the reason Japanese eelgrass has become a problem on commercial shellfish beds is because of another Department of Ecology permit which allowed for the spraying of Carbaryl to control ghost shrimp.  When this native species was killed off by the shellfish industry, sediment density changed and eelgrass moved in. 

What will be the consequence of killing off eelgrass?  Using your rear view mirror to drive down the freeway isn't a good idea.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Ecology Issues 401 Water Quality Certification for Fudge Point Geoduck Farm

On February 28 the Department of Ecology issued its 401 Water Quality Certification to Taylor Shellfish for its proposed geoduck farm in the wetland drainage area of Fudge Point.  The Corps of Engineers is still taking comments on whether the proposed geoduck farm should be issued a 404 Water Quality Certification (the Federal portion of the Clean Water Act).  Comments should be sent to  Pamela Sanguinetti at  Pamela.Sanguinetti@usace.army.mil with NWS-2011-44, Taylor Shellfish in the subject line.

Fudge Point Wetland Drainage Area
(click to enlarge)

Ecology could have chosen to protect this valuable sub-set of the intertidal area but instead issued conflicting conditions. 

Condition 8 states "no surface waters shall be channelized for the purpose of redirecting flows on the project site".

Condition 9 allows for temporary control of surface run-off through the "placing of sandbags to redirect the surface run-off" during times of "high run-off periods" which may threaten the survival of young geoduck.  There is no definition of what "high run-off periods" are nor what "temporary" means. 

Not conditioned at all is erosion during and after the harvest of this area. The wetland drainage will continue to drain, but through sediments which have been liquefied during the harvest period.

If this area is not appropriate for geoduck, why allow it at all?  Isn't the protection of habitat an important part of the Clean Water Act any longer?

Does the loss of this single drainage area mean anything?  The better question to ask is whether the loss of intertidal fresh water drainage areas in Totten Inlet; Spencer Cove; Nisqually Reach; and now Fudge Point combined mean anything.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Taylor Shellfish on Fudge Point State Park

     Not in My Back Yard

Help suport the creation of Fudge Point State Park
 by sending an email to

Fudge Point:  State Park or Geoduck Farm?
(click to enlarge)

Taylor Shellfish is clear in its opposition to the creation of
Fudge Point State Park
Diane Cooper:  Aquaculture is Incompatible

How a proposed 6 acre shellfish farm may prevent the creation of a 255 acre waterfront state park. 

Diane Cooper with Taylor Shellfish:  "I don't know how much use that park would get. But it's true that there are areas where shellfish farming and high density or high use areas and high use transient population areas probably aren't compatible uses. The shellfish farm activity and proposal has been in the works long before the acquisition of Fudge State Park was ever discussed. I would submit that there's a vested interest by us certainly in that property to continue to move forward with shellfish farming and if that doesn't happen there's certainly opportunity and options to talk."  How generous.

Forgotten by Ms. Cooper is the fact that Taylor Shellfish has not received permits for their proposed geoduck farm. Even if a permit is issued there is no guarantee it won't be appealed, putting off any farm potentially for years.  In the mean time, a window of opportunity to create one of the state's great parks is closing.

Also forgotten by Ms. Cooper is the fact that residential development of Fudge Point and its upland areas have been proposed for a far longer period of time than Taylor Shellfish's geoduck farm.  Ralph Scott, in 1991 had Fudge Point surveyed into lots and a road system, including a pedestrian easement from the high tideline to the extreme low tideline.  Its development has been discussed for years.  It is Taylor Shellfish who is the newcomer.

Taylor Shellfish acquired these tidelands knowing full well development in one form or another would happen.  Any investor - whether the state trying to create a state park for future generations or someone trying to create a housing development - has been put on notice by Taylor Shellfish and their 6 acre geoduck farm:  "Not in my back yard."

Taylor Shellfish has now stated in no uncertain terms what has been obvious for years and what they have dismissed as "NIMBYism":  Industrial aquaculture has become incompatible with other shoreline uses. Will they now withdraw their proposal for a 58 raft mussel farm in Totten Inlet where residents have lived for generations? Will they cancel their geoduck farm leases on tidelands in front of shoreline owners who were there far longer than Taylor Shellfish was?  Unlikely.

When will Taylor Shellfish accept the fact that this body of water is named "Puget Sound" - not "Taylor Shellfish Sound"?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Imazamox and the Elimination of Japanese eelgrass Habitat Funtions

Reminder:  Comments are still being accepted through March 9 on the shellfish industry's request to eliminate Japanese eelgrass from commercial shellfish beds through application of the herbicide Imazamox in Puget Sound and the state's marine waters.  This is only one more example of the shellfish industry's desire to transform Puget Sound's habitat. (see Feb 18 post for background on how shellfish lobbying put Imazamox on the "noxious weed" list)

Comments should be sent to:  Kathy.Hamel@ecy.wa.gov with "Stop Imazamox" in the subject line.

Following is what tideland habitat biologist Dan Pentilla has to say about the shellfish industry's proposed eradication of this important habitat species using the herbicide Imazamox in Puget Sound.  Dan Pentilla worked for the Washington Deparment of Fish and Wildlife for 39 years, much of it spent researching and documenting forage fish habitat. 

This was what he sent to the Department of Ecology:

SUBJECT: Zostera japonica as documented herring spawning habitat in Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay
I wish to comment from my personal observations of the usage of “japanese eelgrass” as herring spawning substrate in Washington’s coastal estuaries. I am a recently retired WDFW forage fish biologist, having spent 39 years involved in investigations of herring, surf smelt, and Pacific sand lance biology, spawning ecology and critical spawning habitat mapping throughout the state of Washington. By way of record of my professional knowledge and experience, see: Penttila, D.E., 2007. The marine forage fishes of Puget Sound. PSNERP Tech Report 2007-03, at www.pugetsoundnearshore.org .
I have personally observed the usage of middle intertidal beds of Zostera japonica as egg-deposition substrate by Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay stocks of Pacific herring during their February-March spawning seasons. These records of my observations would be housed within the files and photo notebooks of the WDFW Marine Resources Division at their LaConner, WA office, if more specific details were needed. These records are considered public information, and I presume I would still have personal access to them, if requested. The degee to which extensive beds of Zostera japonica also serve as herring spawning habitat in the Salish Sea region, where herring spawning on adjacent beds of Z. marina overlaps with extensive aquaculture operations, such as Drayton Harbor (Whatcom Co.) and Samish Bay (Skagit Co.), should also be investigated before any industrial-scale applications of herbicides are allowed.
In southern Grays Harbor, I photographed as well as sampled herring eggs on Zostera japonica beds in the vicinity of the Bay City bridge over the Elk River estuary. In Willapa Bay, I recall herring eggs being found on Zostera japonica beds just inshore of the native Z. marina beds in the area north of Oysterville. In both areas, the herring spawning sites in question were within short distances of active shellfish aquaculture plots, and thus would be damaged or destroyed by the application of pest-control herbicides.
In my opinion, the herring spawning habitats of Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay already suffer enough damage from uncontrolled (ie. “voluntary codes of practice”) aquaculture activities annually, through the dredging of ground-cultured oysters during the spawning season, stomping and shading. They should not be further impacted by yet another ill-considered act for the benefit of the commercial aquaculture industry’s bottom line.
In these coastal estuaries, any attempted chemical control of Z. japonica beds immediately inshore and possibly intermingled with the inshore portions of Z.. marina beds would cause damage to the native Z. marina beds and their herring spawning habitat function. It is a poorly kept secret that the aquaculture industry has for generations considered eelgrass to be a “pest” and has routinely pursued measures to eradicate the species from their culture plots, despite the species’ clear ecological value.* Such damage to herring spawning habitats should be considered a violation of the WA State GMA, WA State SMA, the WAC Hydraulic Code Rules and federal Essential Fish Habitat rules for the conservation of ESA-listed salmonids in this region, all of which advocate no-net-loss protections for documented herring spawning grounds.
* Simenstad, C.A., and K.I. Fresh, 1995. Influence of intertidal aquaculture on benthic communities in Pacific Northwest estuaries: scales of disturbance. Estuaries, Vol 18, No. 1A, p. 43-70.
Thank you for this opportunity for input.
Dan Penttila
Salish Sea Biological (consulting on forage fish matters)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Fudge Point: Fractured Tidelands Fractured Dreams

In 1991 Ralph Scott had a dream for how Fudge Point and its tidelands would look to future generations:  contiguous tidelands for all associated upland owners to use as a pedestrian easement and an untouched wetland.  Preserved in their natural state, undeveloped.

Fudge Point Tidelands and Wetlands
(click to enlarge)

Taylor Shellfish and Fudge Point Property decided they have a different dream:  a geoduck farm on tidelands between the mean low and extreme low tidelines requiring re-channeling of the wetland outflow in those tidelands.  In November of 2011 they eliminated Ralph Scott's easement and his dream, recorded in 1991.

Ralph Scott's Recorded Easement
(click to enlarge)

The Eastern shoreline of Harstine Island is becoming the new Totten Inlet with geoduck farms growing like a fungus along the shoreline.  Seen below is Taylor's farm south of Wilson Point, showing what Fudge Point will become.  Spencer Cove on the north end of Harstine Island has similar farms.

South of Wilson Point
(click to enlarge)

To believe this activity is not fracturing the tideland habitat of Puget Sound is naive.  "Science" may show a single geoduck farm does not have a significant impact.  But on a cumulative level this activity is fracturing the tideland habitat of Puget Sound.

The Shoreline Management Act was passed to prevent the fracturing of Puget Sound's shoreline area.  Cumulative impacts are real and they are happening now.  Mason County's oversight of this activity?  Nothing.  Perhaps that's why Ralph Scott had his dream of what Fudge Point's tidelands would be used for recorded. 

Whatever the reason, Taylor Shellfish has a different dream for what Puget Sound's tidelands and waters should look like for future generations.