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, June 29, 2012

PVC Debris From Corporate Geoduck Farming Continues to Pollute Puget Sound

Just Because You Can't See It
Doesn't Mean It's Not There

PVC Tubes in Case Inlet
June 2012
(click to enlarge)
Corporate Response: "Best Management Practices"
Will Prevent This from Happening
Case Inlet Shoreline Association Response: No It Won't

In 2010 the Case Inlet Shoreline Association wrote the following email to Pierce County with copies to the Department of Ecology, the Department of Natural Resources, and the Department of Fish and Wildlife: 

Subject: PVC tubes near Vaughn Bay, Case Inlet, May 15, 2010.
Date: Sun, 16 May 2010 19:16:34 -0700

Hi Mike, Dave:

I've attached a PDF with pictures of several dozen PVC geoduck tubes that washed up on private beaches near Vaughn Bay yesterday. CISA members were able to pick them up and dispose of them. Some of the residents down there contacted me and complained about it, and wanted me to report it to the state and the county, so here you are. The tubes look fairly new, so I'm guessing that they came from the Stratford site, but North Bay is also a possibility.


Curt Puddicombe
Case Inlet Shoreline Association

The position of the corporations responsible for this pollution is "Best Mangement Practices" are adequate enough to address the problem and regulation is not necessary. Corporate "Best Management Practices" do not work and in fact are creating debris fields of PVC pipes througout Puget Sound. Claims that bi-annual "beach cleanups" address the issue ignore the fact that these "cleanups" do not happen when tides are their lowest, where geoduck farms and PVC pipes exist.

In fact, when the tides are lowest, corporate priorities are planting and harvesting, not picking up their waste. Should an excuse that debris and farms are "only visible a small time during summer daylight hours" be accepted? Their being visible only at low tides begs the question: what remains below the low tide line, out of site, leaching chemicals into Puget Sound's waters?

Corporate profits are driving Governor Gregoire's mandate to "streamline permitting" for shellfish farming, geoduck farms in particular, making a very few corporate owners wealthy at the expense of Puget Sound's future and Washington taxpayers. The Governor being "dressed down" by shellfish farmers (Bill Dewey, December 2011 press conference) should not allow this to continue.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Get Involved In the Public Process: June 27 Meeting

6:30 P.M., WEDNESDAY, JUNE 27, 2012
City of Gig Harbor Council Chambers
3510 Grandview, Gig Harbor, WA 98335
(click here for agenda)

A meeting on Pierce County's Shoreline Master Program will be held tonight at 6:30. Speakers are limited to 3 minutes and while repetition of comments is discouraged your statement of support is encouraged. Arrive early.

Just because you can't see it doesn't mean it's not there.

The shellfish industry is heavily involved in crafting local Shoreline Master Plans. These regulations control how the tideland developments and structures these corporations want are permitted. The public process is the only way you'll be able to influence how these corporate developments and structures in Puget Sound's tidelands are permitted, or not. If you care, get involved. The shellfish industry is, more than you know.


Monday, June 25, 2012

Totten Inlet's Problem: Ecology Submits Water Quality Assessment to EPA

June 9, the Department of Ecology submitted its final water quality report to EPA, required under the Clean Water Act (read article from San Juan Islander here). Results from that report can be seen on an interactive map on Ecology's site (click here for an interactive map; zoom scale is on the left; clicking on the "i" on top, then the areas in red square will bring up details).

Totten Inlet's Little Skookum Inlet
Now Rated Category 5: "Polluted Waters"
Dissolved Oxygen Samples Below 7mg/L

Samples indicated Dissolved Oxygen (DO) levels below 7mg/L which were not attributable to natural conditions (click here for rating, then on "?" for explanation). 

Taylor Shellfish's mussel farm just south was tested and found to cause DO levels to drop as low as 4.5mg/L.  Taylor Shellfish's processing plant discharges over 100,000 gallons/day of waste water on land adjacent to Skookum Inlet's shoreline where water tables flow into Skookum's waters. 

Taylor Shellfish is proposing a large 58 raft mussel farm at the mouth of Totten Inlet (north east of Skookum Inlet's polluted waters) where DO levels are slightly above 7mg/L. The EIS showed Taylor's current mussel farm causes DO levels to drop up to 70%, dropping them below Ecology's standard.

It is technical issues like this which the Hearing Examiner considers when deciding whether a permit for the new farm should be issued. It is why the decision has been extended from April to an anticipated July 9 date.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Ocean Acidification: What Washington Can Do To Show It's Serious About CO2 Emissions

Governor Gregoire's "Blue Ribbon Panel" has held 3 meetings to try and understand CO2 and ocean acidification, and what meaningful steps might be taken, based on facts. A fourth meeting is scheduled for June 20, 9AM to 4PM, at the Center for Urban Horticulture, 3501 NE 41st Street. Access is also available through the internet by registering for the "webinar" here. The June 20 meeting agenda is available here.

What Washington Can Do

Is the Governor really serious about doing something? Are the current candidates serious about doing something?  Is the panel serious about suggesting something? If so, all should consider this paragraph - especially the last sentence - from "The Greenhouse Gas Impact of Exporting Coal from the West Coast" (click here for entire paper):
This paper concludes that the proposed coal export facilities in the Northwest will result in more coal consumption in Asia and undermine China’s progress towards more efficient power generation and usage. Decisions the Northwest makes now will impact Chinese energy habits for the next half-century; the lower coal prices afforded by Northwest coal exports encourage burning coal and discourage the investments in energy efficiency that China has already undertaken. Approving proposed coal export facilities would also undermine Washington State’s commitment to reducing its own share of greenhouse gas emissions.

Committees sometimes accomplish great things if they take bold steps based on facts. China's growing CO2 emissions is the single largest source of CO2 now entering the Pacific Ocean, resulting in lower pH levels. Is Washington really serious about doing something? The panel and the Governor can show just how serious Washington State is about CO2 emissions to the nation and the world, as can the current candidates, and not approve export terminals.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Imazamox Spraying on Eelgrass: The Art of Shellfish Politics

Who is that lobbyist behind the curtain
so adept at influencing the Governor and agencies?
(from The Wizard of Oz)

In Ecology's recently released "Shoreline Master Program Guidance" manual (read here), the art of shellfish politics is brought to light. In discussing eelgrass, the manual clearly states the legislature defined eelgrass as a "critical saltwater habitat" which requires "a higher level of protection due to the important ecological functions they provide."
WAC 173-26-221(2)(c)(iii)
(iii) Critical saltwater habitats.
      (A) Applicability. Critical saltwater habitats include all kelp beds, eelgrass beds,

Legislation which controls the Department of Fish and Wildlife states that eelgrass "serves essential functions in the developmental life history of fish or shellfish."
WAC 220-110-250(3)(a)
(3) The following vegetation is found in many saltwater areas and serves essential functions in the developmental life history of fish or shellfish:
      (a) Eelgrass (Zostera spp);

There is no distinction between species in either law passed and yet the shellfish industry was able to convince the Department of Fish and Wildlife one species is a "pest" which needs to be eliminated. Rather than change the law through the legislature, which would have required far greater public scrutiny, they instead were able to have it declared a "noxious weed".

Despite Ecology's manual pointing out what the law is, it is now considering a permit to allow for the spraying of the herbicide Imazamox on Japanese Eelgrass in Willapa Bay, adding to the other chemicals already sprayed on the state and private oyster beds. The same eelgrass which law says requires "a higher level of protection due to the important ecological functions they provide."

Whoever is behind the curtain has the financial support of the Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association who, in 2011, took in over $600,000; spent $90,000 for their legal counsel; and, another $36,000 for a "Government Relations Advisor".

Near Wilson Point, Harstene Island
Geoduck Farm PVC Tubes/Netting
(click to enlarge)
 "A Vision of Puget Sound's tidelands"
Painted by Taylor Shellfish

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Burley Lagoon Shoreline Master Program Comment Period Extended

Gig Harbor Shoreline Master Program
comment period extended to June 18, 5PM.

Send comments to: Gig Harbor City Council, c/o Planning Department 3510 Grandview Street, Gig Harbor, WA 98335; or,
Email to: katichp@cityofgigharbor.net (Peter Katich -253-853-7616)

Also Contact Representative Larry Seaquist at: Terra.Rose@leg.wa.gov

Gig Harbor's Shoreline Master Program hearing was attended by an overwhelming number of people concerned about Burley Lagoon and Henderson Bay's ecological functions being impacted by industrial aquaculture (read article in The Olympian here). Interest was so high the City of Gig Harbor extended the public comment period until 5PM, June 18.

Industry Considers this "Habitat" 
(click to enlarge)
(oyster cages in Totten Inlet, courtesty of APHETI)

Taylor Shellfish has already begun scheduling meetings with legislative representatives to try and get around the public meeting process and craft the regulations to their benefit. A few people stand to get rich by converting Burley Lagoon into a geoduck farm and loading/unloading facility.

8AM, Sunday Morning in Hammersley Inlet
(click to enlarge)

2012 Tidelands Cleared of Eelgrass
With Bags of PVC Pipes for Planting
(click to enlarge)

This transition will bring along with it industrial activities which Taylor Shellfish wants whenever there is a low tide, whether it be midnight or 6AM. The disruption to wildlife habitat corridors will be permanent. The disruption to a way of life will be permanent.

The intent of the Shoreline Management Act was to prevent the fragmentation and industrialization of Puget Sound's shorelines. Taylor Shellfish and industry lobbyists have convinced a few people this industry is "water dependent" providing "ecological benefits" and therefor should be allowed to do as it pleases, when it pleases.

If you're not involved, Taylor Shellfish and a few large corporations will have been allowed to transform Puget Sound's tidelands for their benefit, with future generations wondering why.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification: Is it Science or a Feeling?

The Governor's Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification met again on May 23 to press ahead on meeting the Governor's mandated October deadline. Emphasized again at the meeting is whether the current scientific information available is accurate and the importance of monitoring on a spatial and temporal scale in order to determine exactly what is driving the lowering pH levels in Puget Sound.  (the May 23 hearing is very poorly recorded here) (the May 23 pdf presentation files are located here)

Deadlines for projects are important, but critical to the successful implementation of any project is those deadlines be realistic. Important in this case is recommendations on actions be based on sound science, not feelings.

Daniel Jack Chasan discusses a similar problem created by Governor Gregoire in her setting 2020 as the end date for a "restored Puget Sound" (read here). Its title: "After 5 years, Gregoire's Puget Sound progress is uncertain." Its subtitle: "The governor launched an effort to restore the Sound to good health by 2020. But money, goals, and data remain elusive." An important point:   "'Swimmable, diggable, fishable' makes a nice sound bite..." Applicable to sound science is this: "That dead zone in Hood Canal? Turns out leaky septic systems aren't primarily to blame...the main culprit is a slug of cold, dense, oxygen-poor water from the deep ocean" It is the latter which is believed to be the overwhelming cause of lowering pH levels in Puget Sound. The questions of "how much and what else" are currently unclear and their answers should not be based on a feeling.

Currently there is no state funding nor legislative oversight of Governor Gregoire's Shellfish Initiative. Federal funding for the Ocean Policy, which NOAA's National Shellfish Initiative falls under is at risk of being withheld entirely by the Appropriations Committee (read recent article here). Coastal communities are upset that Puget Sound is the focus of energy where the few funds available from EPA are being spent (read from The Daily News, Hoquiam/Aberdeen here). NOAA and Dr. Lubchenco are under intense political pressure, with calls for Dr. Lubchenco to resign coming from Senator Brown (read article from Gloucester Times here).

Puget Sound is under pressure which will not be relieved from actions based on a feeling. Sound scientific evidence must be what is called for from the Blue Ribbon Panel. Scientists on the panel know that. Will Governor Gregoire accept that? Or is she being pressed to act on a feeling by others herself?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Shellfish Politics and Why You Should Be Involved in the Shoreline Management Act

The Shellfish Industry Is
 - More than You Know

A Meeting to formulate Gig Harbor's shoreline master program will be held Monday,
June 11, 5:30PM, at the Gig Harbor City Council Chambers; 3510 Grandview Street

The Shoreline Managment Act was created as a direct outfall of an industry and government agencies wanting to develop the Nisqually Delta and transform the last great river delta in Puget Sound to a deep sea seaport. In 1971 the citizens of Washington State decided Puget Sound and its nearshore environment was more than an industrial area waiting to be developed in the name of "jobs" and "the economy."  Then, the shellfish industry was a benign activity.

Today its view of what the tidelands and waters of Puget Sound should be used for is very different.  It uses politics at every turn to be sure a very few become wealthy through minimizing the regulatory oversight of their tideland/overwater structures and developments, and to eliminate what it considers "pests".  Included was getting a species of eel grass which, until February of 2011, had been considered a Priority Habitat Species by WDFW (read WDFW "Protecting Nearshore Habitat Functions in Puget Sound" here).  So doing allowed this species of eel grass to be considered a "noxious weed" which, in turn, has resulted in the Department of Ecology now considering a permit to allow for the spraying of the herbicide Imazamox on commercial shellfish beds.

How "Politics 101" got a priority habitat species
delisted so it could be called a "weed."

February 5, 2011, email communication to WDFW Director Anderson noting Bill Dewey with Taylor Shellfish is reluctant to make it appear "industry" is reducing protection of eelgrass.  Jim Jesernig (political lobbyist for the shellfish industry) met with Representative Blake to communicate this.
(click to enlarge)

 February 4 and 6 emails.
February 4 email from Bill Dewey to WDFW stating it would be better for "the letter" to go directly to Chairman Blake.  Mr. Dewey attached a draft, leaving WDFW "free to edit it".
February 6 email from WDFW to Bill Dewey with an attachment "without internal review...for your eyes for now" confirming "the concept".
(click to enlarge)

February 8 letter from Director Anderson to Representative Blake
which resulted in the current proposal by Ecology to allow for the spraying of the herbicide Imazamox on commercial shellfish farms. There was no public notice or input on this change.
(click to enlarge)

Politics is one thing. But to hide behind the curtain of "environmental benefits" while pulling levers and pushing buttons to eliminate a species of aquatic vegetation which has long been recognized for its ecological benefits, including habitat for endangered species and its ability to sequester CO2, is a clear example of how the shellfish industry has changed since 1971. It is a big industry with profits at the forefront leaving a transformation of Puget Sound in its wake. It is involved in crafting local shoreline management programs for its benefit. If you are not involved in the public process your children and theirs will wonder what happened to Puget Sound's tidelands.

Totten Inlet, 2012
This is habitat?
(click to enlarge)
(courtesy of APHETI)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Derelict Vessel Deep Sea Back in Seattle

The derelict vessel Deep Sea which sank in Penn Cove last month was towed back to Seattle where its journey began (see KIRO TV raw video of its being towed here).  Ironically, it was sold by the Port of Seattle to a private party who towed it to Penn Cove in January. After mysteriously catching fire in May it sank, discharging over 1,500 gallons of diesel fuel into Penn Cove, with an additional 3,500 gallons off-loaded while it was submerged. Harvesting at Penn Cove Mussels' mussel farm was halted with portions of the farm still closed due to contamination by fuel. [Update:  Penn Cove Mussels has been cleared to harvest mussels again.]

Deep Sea Approaching the Ballard Locks
Local shipyard to scrap ship that caught fire, sank in Penn Cove
(photo by pmkmbooth5, from KOMO)

The Deep Sea was inspected yesterday by the King County Fire Investigation Unit which is trying to determine if arson was the cause of the fire which caused the derelict vessel to sink in Penn Cove last month (see KING TV article here).  The vessel was without power and unoccupied, making the fire suspicious.

Deep Sea at Stabbert Maritime Yacht and Ship Dry Dock
Where it will be Dismantled after Inspection
(photo from KING TV)

This is the ship's final port where it will be dismantled and sold for scrap, leaving in its wake questions about how legislation could leave agencies so powerless to act on regulations so clearly written. As a result, to date over $1.5 million of taxpayer dollars has been spent and Penn Cove's shellfish harvesting was brought to a halt.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Shellfish Industry's "Pests" of Puget Sound

[Update 4/21/14: The Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association has removed the "pest" document from their site. A copy of the "pest" document may be found here:

The shellfish industry has released a document which details the species of Puget Sound which it considers "pests" to their tideland developments.  (click here for the complete document, funded by USDA)

A partial list of the species includes:


Horse Clams



Starry Flounder

Petrale Sole

Sea Stars

Sand Dollars

Shiner Perch

Ghost Shrimp

Dungeness Crab

Red Rock Crab

Moon Snail

Japanese Eelgrass (shown with a limpet)
(Note:  Until 2011 Japanese eelgrass was considered a "priority habitat species" by Fish and Wildlife. Thanks in part to Bill Dewey with Taylor Shellfish helping to draft a letter for the Director of Fish and Wildlife, the Department of Ecology is now considering a permit which would allow for the spraying of the herbicide Imazamox in Willapa Bay.)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Burley Lagoon Shellfish Operation Taken over by Taylor Shellfish

After generations of the Yamashita family operating the shellfish farm in Burley Lagoon, Jerry Yamashita has decided to turn it over to Taylor Shellfish. Mr. Yamashita's father, Masahide, was instrumental in transitioning the Puget Sound shellfish species from native Olympia oysters to Pacific oysters, imported from Japan. Were it not for his business acumen and connections in Japan, it is unlikely Taylor Shellfish would be what it is today (click here to read about the Yamashita family).

Jerry Yamashita

What Taylor Shellfish plans to do within Burley Lagoon is unknown. What is known is Burley Lagoon's habitat supports a diverse set of species. Documented spawning for Pacific Herring, a critical forage fish, exists in the Lagoon. Salmon, steelhead and cutthroat all migrate through the Lagoon. At the north end of the Lagoon an environmental tragedy exists where transformers were decommissioned and leaked PCB's and dioxins, resulting in a superfund site being created (click here to read about the Strandley-Manning Superfund Site). Unknown is what amount of PCB's and dioxins were carried into Burley Lagoon and continue to exist within the sediments where Taylor's likely expansion of shellfish operations will occur.

Burley Lagoon
(click to enlarge)

Burley Lagoon's environment presents additional challenges to any developments which occur in the tidelands.  The Lagoon is known to be a "low flushing" body of water, resulting in impacts remaining within the lagoon.  Taylor Shellfish's mussel rafts in Totten Inlet were shown to lower dissolved oxygen and create degraded water quality through feces/pseudo feces and shell deposition. Geoduck farms result in the placement of PVC pipes in the tidelands, potentially leaching chemical compounds into the water, and harvesting is known to suspend sediments which, in the case of Burley Lagoon, would not be carried by the current but remain within the Lagoon. Finally, Taylor's operations are all tide dependent and Taylor has taken the position that as such, midnight shellfish tideland operations in the winter are perfectly fine, whether loading; unloading; harvesting; or planting, whether residents live nearby or not.

Burley Lagoon and the entire area will be changed with the passing of the Yamashita family's oversight to the Taylor Shellfish corporation's tideland developments. To what remains to be seen. Perhaps one change to be expected is seen in this recent picture showing mussels expanding in the tidelands of Burley Lagoon.

Burley Lagoon Tidelands

Monday, June 4, 2012

140' Derelict Vessel "Deep Sea" Refloated in Penn Cove

Like a Phoenix rising, the 140' derelict vessel "Deep Sea" which sank last month in Penn Cove has been brought back to the surface of Puget Sound. As seen in the picture below, the DB General (left) provided the primary lifting, with the cradle suspending the stern and middle. The smaller DB Oakland (right) provided assistance at the bow.  It is scheduled to be towed back to Seattle where it came from this week.
Deep Sea Suspended by Lifting Cranes
Still Discharging Oil
(photo from Department of Ecology)

Clearly seen in the picture above, oil continues to be discharged into Penn Cove.  Today (Monday)  winds are forecast from the north-northwest with gusts up to 12mhp, putting the mussel farm operated by Penn Cove Mussels at continued risk of contamination.  Tonight and tomorrow the winds are forecast to be from the southwest, pushing the oil away from the farm. (Click here to see a picture looking to the northwest from the shoreline.) The Department of Health will test the mussels in a laboratory and by "taste testing" to determine if harvesting may be resumed.

To date near 5,000 gallons of oil has leaked or been pumped from from the vessel.  Declared a derelict vessel last year, the Port of Seattle became the lead agency responsible for its disposal after it took ownership. After an unsuccessful auction it was advertised on Craigslist and purchased for $2,500 by Rory Westmoreland, a scrap dealer from the Maple Valley area (read a Seattle Times article on Mr. Westmoreland here).  Mr. Westmoreland towed it to Penn Cove where the Coast Guard, in January, reported there to be perhaps 50 to 100 gallons of oil on board with minimal risk of its sinking (read KUOW article on the January 2012 Coast Guard inspection here).  DNR attempted to have Mr. Westmoreland remove the vessel, but with little ability to enforce current regulations, it sat until it mysteriously caught fire. After it caught fire, PVC through-hull fittings apparently melted allowing water into the vessel and its subsequent sinking, after which it was discovered there was far more oil on board.

It's hoped this environmental disaster will not be viewed as a "one time event" with nothing done to improve oversight and disposal of derelict vessels in Puget Sound. Waiting to take possession of the Deep Sea, as seen in this video, should make everyone realize there is a better way.  On a larger scale, regulations with no ability to enforce them mean little, as Mr. Westmoreland has apparently learned. 

DNR Finally Taking Possession of Deep Sea

Friday, June 1, 2012

Minus Tides June 2 to the 8th Expose the Shellfish Industry's Other Side

Just Because You Can't See It Doesn't Mean It's Not There

The lowest tides of the year will be this Saturday through Friday, June 2 to the 8th with Monday's -4.1 being the lowest (see here for Olympia tides).  Near lunch time on all those days, all geoduck farms will be exposed for people to see.  The forests of PVC tubes, nets, and hydraulic harvesting which are transforming the lower intertidal tidelands and making a very few people very rich will be exposed. 

Washington State is paid virtually nothing in property taxes or sales taxes. Tideland owners leasing their tidelands are paid little because they are unaware of the value they possess.  Job "formation" is part time and are jobs the unemployed in Mason, Pierce and Thurston Counties don't want, leaving them to be filled by hard working migrant workers whose concern - rightfully so - is for their families in other countries.  It's what the shellfish industry doesn't want you to see or know.

See How Industrial Shellfish Farms
Transform Puget Sound's Tidelands

Recent temporary help wanted job descriptions from Craigslist:
Shellfish farm needs labor help June 2-4.
Must be dependable, have own transportation, and be able to pass a background check.
Must have previous labor experience (prefer ag or fishery/forestry exp.) , and be over 18 y.o.
5 hour shifts, daily, for 3 consecutive days.
Needed are a few folks who can "bring it" during the few hours we have each day to get a job done.
Our base rate is $12 per hour.

Puget Sound's tidelands are more than a shellfish farm for a few shellfish company owners to become wealthy growing geoduck in. It is a national treasure at risk.  After looking at what's happening to Puget Sound's tidelands, consider who benefits from the industrial expansion and tideland developments industry wants so badly and the Governor is pushing so hard for.  Get involved in the process. The geoduck industry is and it's not for your benefit.