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 27, 2013

Most Read Posts of 2013 - The Top 3

Listed below are the top 3 posts of 2013, measured by the number of unique viewers. It is apparent that there is intense interest in the geoduck industry.

#1: March 28 - China's President Xi Jinping - Popping the Geoduck Bubble

"If we don't redress unhealthy tendencies...we will lose our roots, our lifeblood and our strength." China's President Xi Jinping
This post was by far the most read of any in 2013. Contained within it is explained the risk which the geoduck industry faces in relying on China's hyper-elite as the market for over 90% of the geoduck harvested from Puget Sound. Focused largely on now current President Xi Jinping it notes his plans to address "public outrage over unearned privilege" (The Economist, February 19, 2013). As reported in The New York Times, March 27, 2013, President Jinping's austerity program had already resulted in "...sales of shark fins had dropped more than 70 percent, and sales of edible swallow nests, the main ingredient of a $100-a-bowl delicacy, were down 40 percent." It noted agencies - and tideland owners - needed to consider the reality of a market collapse as they are pressured by the industry to expand further into the tidelands of Puget Sound.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

DOH and 2009 Sediment Testing in Poverty Bay

The Chinese have stated geoduck shipments from the west coast contained elevated levels of Arsenic and paralytic shellfish poisoning toxins. In the short term a significant number of employees have tragically had their Christmas plans disrupted. The geoduck industry is facing the first market collapse from which it may or may not recover. Agencies may have been able to prevent the current crisis had different decisions been made. Whether those decisions were influenced by the very industry now in crisis is an unanswered question.

1997 - Batelle's sediment study
In 1997 a study by Batelle/Marine Sciences Laboratory in Sequim showed elevated levels of Arsenic, Lead, Mercury, Cesium and Cadmium buried in deeper sediments between Maury Island and Federal Way, peaking at a depth near 2 feet. The Department of Health was made aware of this study as early as December 2, 2007. In an email discussing sediments and geoduck harvesting it was noted:
"In the study by Dr. Crecelius, one of the core samples (number 6) was taken off shore in the exact area of the Dumas Bay Geoducks studied.  The results indicated that at sediments above where Geoducks burrow (live), and through which they are extracted, are significantly higher concentrations of chemicals tested for (e.g., lead; arsenic; PCB; DDT).  These peak values were at sediment depths ranging from ~33cm to ~75cm.  Geoducks typically are at depths of ~90cm."

Friday, December 20, 2013

Arsenic in Puget Sound Sediments and Soils of Vashon and Maury Islands

[Update 12/20: DNR suspends harvesting in Poverty Bay's Redondo tract where Arsenic was detected by China. The Puyallup Tribe which had been harvesting in the area also agreed to suspend harvesting until further testing could be done.]
[Update 12/20: Point Reyes Light (PRL) in Marin County reports on the recreational shellfish harvesting ban in Tomales Bay, near Drakes Estero, due to a bloom of the algae causing PSP toxins in shellfish. Separate from the Chinese ban of west coast shellfish for Arsenic, California has banned recreational harvesting in the area for fear of shellfish poisoning. Of significance is the state noting: "It is the first time the toxin, which typically closes non-commercial harvest during summer months, has appeared in winter in the inner and middle sections of the bay." PRL also notes the California Department of Health saying there is no understanding of what causes the algal blooms and therefore no means of predicting the events.]
[Update 12/20: King TV also reported on the Vashon/Maury Islands' elevated levels of Arsenic and Lead in October. The broadcast can be seen by clicking here.]
(Vashon Maury Island Beachcomber, October 9,2013)
"...the state needs to do more soil sampling there
to better understand the extent of the contamination..."
Soils on parts of Vashon and Maury Islands
contaminated with Arsenic and Lead.
"Take it away and cover it up. It will be fine."
Area where past testing showed elevated levels
of Arsenic, Cadmium and Lead in
Puget Sound sediments and where
"geoduck of concern" came from.
Dig it up, take it away, put down more soil - good as new 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

1997 DOH Testing for Arsenic Results - Did Harvesting Release Arsenic and Cadmium Trapped in Sediments?

[Update 12/20: Alternative link to Arsenic study added and low end of Arsenic corrected, table from 2007 study added.]


Was Arsenic found in the DOH Health Consultation 
from 1997 important to pay attention to?

The Washington Department of Health (DOH) has clarified further that the geoduck which the Chinese state tested positive for Arsenic originated in Puget Sound and those testing positive for Paralytic Shellfish Toxin (PST) - also referred to as Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning toxins (PSP) - originated from Alaska. DOH will begin further testing of geoduck tissue in the area.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

APHETI Year End Update on Taylor Shellfish Mussel Farm Permit Appeal

The following is an update from APHETI (The Association for the Protection of Hammersley, Eld and Totten Inlet) on the status of the Superior Court case appealing Taylor Shellfish's permit approval for a 58 raft mussel farm near the mouth of Totten Inlet.

Note: APHETI is a 501c3 non-profit corporation. All donations are tax deductible. Their efforts help to ensure the waters and tidelands of Puget Sound are protected through the Shoreline Management Act and local county programs as intended - for everyone.
Contact information:
Association for the Protection of Hammersley, Eld, & Totten Inlets
-APHETI- (a 501c3 non-profit organization)
PO BOX 11523,

Olympia WA 98508-1523
(360) 866 - 0218 www.apheti.com 
December 17, 2013
UPDATE: Superior Court appeal status / State Shoreline Hearings Board (SHB) decision
Greetings APHETI Members and Supporters -

It has been some time since our last letter to you so we thought this update would be helpful. Here is what has been happening since late June 2013.

We last reported that on June 17, 2013 the SHB overturned Thurston County's denial of Taylor's permit application for expanded mussel raft aquaculture in Totten Inlet (APHETI website www.apheti.com).

APHETI attorney, David Mann, said this of the SHB decision -
“I continue to believe the SHB got it wrong on Benthic impacts, dissolved oxygen, Gallo mussels and cumulative impacts. The only way they (SHB) could get to their answer was to ignore entirely our legal arguments, our cross examination, and the multiple holes in the analysis.”

“Frankly I believe all of the issues the Examiner raised and we defended before the SHB are worthy of appeal. It will be an uphill fight, but it is by no means a slam-dunk against us.”

It was unclear at that time what Thurston County might do in response to the SHB decision. Regardless, the APHETI Board decided to immediately move forward with our own appeal of the SHB decision to Superior Court. APHETI attorney, David Mann, filed APHETI's timely appeal which effectively prohibits any further action by Taylor until the matter is resolved by the Court.

Then, after conversations with Thurston County staff by APHETI Board members, the Thurston Co. Commissioners agreed to join with APHETI and also filed a timely appeal with the Superior Court.

Since then, the wheels of the justice system have moved slowly. Presently, the Superior Court has scheduled the hearing of the APHETI / Thurston Co. appeal for March 28, 2014. We will let you know the outcome when the decision is rendered and what our next action plans will be.

We also wish to THANK YOU! for your outstanding response to our request for financial contributions to help pay APHETI's legal expenses in advancing this Superior Court appeal. Without your support this appeal would not be possible. We are still in the fight thanks again to all your generosity!!

Continuing contributions are most welcome and will be put to good use. If you would care to, please mail your response to APHETI, PO Box 11523, Olympia, WA 98508-1523. APHETI is an IRS registered non-profit charitable organization. Contributions may be tax deductible and all are acknowledged in writing. The identity of all donors is kept strictly confidential.

As always, please feel welcome to contact APHETI (360/866-0218) with any questions you may have. We again, Thank You! for your continued support.

APHETI Board of Directors

Monday, December 16, 2013

Chinese Ban of Geoduck Should be No Surprise to Agencies or the Industry

[Update 12/17: The Olympian has reported that the Department of Health has narrowed down the area which the geoduck with elevated levels of Paralytic Shellfish Toxins (PST) were harvested from. One is in Poverty Bay, located north of the old ASARCO plant. The actively harvested "Redondo" tract was closed in 5/31 due to elevated levels of PST (97) then reopened again 6/14. It was unknown whether elevated arsenic levels were found in this shipment, but in the 1997 NOAA report noted below the highest levels of Arsenic in sediments were found in core samples 5 and 6 (see graph in post below).  As noted as recently as this month in the on-line version of Science of the Total Environment: "The American Smelting and Refining Company (ASARCO) smelter in Ruston, Washington, contaminated the south-central Puget Sound region with heavy metals, including arsenic and lead."]

Is this geoduck something you'd want to eat?
The Chinese now say no.

Why so surprised?
The recent ban on importing shellfish harvested from Washington state due to elevated levels of Arsenic and paralytic shellfish toxins (PST) found in geoduck shipments should come as no surprise to agencies nor the industry. In fact, it is better to ask the question of why it took so long for the Chinese to get upset. Fingers pointing to whether the Chinese know how to test shellfish should also be directed to those agencies responsible for overseeing food safety in the United States and shellfish harvested from Puget Sound.

Measurements of Arsenic in Puget Sound Core Samples
Measurements of Arsenic at various depths. Estimated year
accumulated on left, depth on right, level at the bottom.
(click to enlarge)

Elevated levels of Arsenic in Puget Sound sediments is old news to NOAA
Since 1997 NOAA has been aware of elevated levels of Arsenic in Puget Sound's sediments, concentrated highest in those sediments north of the old ASARCO plant in Tacoma. Operating for almost 100 years, the once largest smokestack in the United States discharged arsenic, lead, and a variety of other chemicals into the air. From there the prevailing winds carried the discharge plume north over Puget Sound where the chemicals and metals gradually settled out of the air into the waters of Puget Sound and onto the adjacent lands where they sometimes remained, other times washed into the various bodies of water, both fresh and marine. Rainfall only hastened the deposits. As seen in the graphs above, over time sedimentation buried those deposits. But they did not go away, leaving the highest concentrations remaining in depths of 30 to 50 centimeters, or 1 to 2 feet undisturbed. Until geoduck harvesting began.

Commercial geoduck harvesting
from subtidal sediments.

Geoduck burrow into deeper sediments which, when harvested, overturn those sediments and reintroduce them to the water column
Geoduck are the largest burrowing clam in the world, burrowing into the sediments to depths of 3 feet. There they grow up to 7 pounds in weight. During harvest, a water jet is used to dislodge the sediments surrounding the geoduck from which it is pulled. As seen in the short video clip above, all sediments down to the depth of the geoduck are disturbed. When the geoduck is pulled out large amounts of sediment enter the water column, along with anything else they may happen to contain. From there they drift and settle, in some cases being taken in and absorbed by marine species in the area, such as geoduck. Through their indiscriminate filtering, metals and chemicals may be absorbed and retained, in turn taken in by those who may happen to eat parts in which they are retained.

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

Who tests the sediments and how deeply are they tested? Oakland Bay's lesson
The Department of Ecology generally oversees sediment testing. However, testing is typically within the upper few centimeters, not deeper where past industrial activities may have resulted in higher discharges than currently taking place and where things may have settled, to be buried over time. In addition to the Arsenic found in the 1997 report to NOAA is what was found in the deeper sediments of Oakland Bay near Shelton. Currently producing the largest amount of Manila clams in the United States, the deeper sediments were found to contain elevated levels of Dioxins. Because Manila clams do not burrow as deeply as geoduck it is currently believed these Dioxins will remain in the deeper sediments. But it is an example of what lies below the surface.
Note: For a more current study on sediments and current concerns over increasing "non-point" pollution problems from urban runoff, read "Historical Inputs and Natural Recovery Rates for Heavy Metals and Organic Biomarkers in Puget Sound during the 20th Century".

Alexandrium cantenella, the
source of PSP toxins

Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning toxins and subtidal tract closures occur often, are occurring now, and is not something new
It should be clear from the number of subtidal tracts which close, open, and close again due to elevated levels of PST that Puget Sound is dynamic and testing for PST is critical. Through the past six months alone there have been over 15 subtidal tracts which were closed to harvesting due to elevated levels of paralytic shellfish poisoning toxins. Currently there are four active tracts closed.

Subtidal tracts closed due to
paralytic shellfish poisoning toxins
Since September 10, Wyckoff Shoal has
opened/closed numerous times

Timing is everything
The challenges of timing and testing are easily seen in tracts closed, opened and closed again. Seen above are two of the currently active subtidal tracts in south Puget Sound which are currently closed - Wyckoff Shoal and Fox Island South. Of importance is the number of times Wyckoff Shoal has been closed and reopened over the past 10 weeks. Closed 9/10, it was reopened again on 9/26. 10/2 it was closed again and reopened 10/29, only to be closed 12/4. Just east of Wyckoff shoals is Fox Island whose active tract was closed 9/13. While the above demonstrates testing is active, it more importantly demonstrates the dynamics of Alexandrium populations and the significance of missing one day, the result being geoduck with elevated levels of PSP toxins arriving in China. Of most significance is the closures/openings demonstrate there are active populations of Alexendrium blooming throughout Puget Sound (see table below for tracts which have been closed, some multiple times, due to elevated levels of PST). *For a map click here where you can enter the name of the tract to find the location.
Redondo (closed 5/31, opened 6/14); Lisabeulla (closed 6/14, opened 8/27, closed 11/18, opened 11/25); Protection Island (closed 6/25, opened 9/10, closed 10/14, opened 10/21); Manzanita (closed 7/1, opened 7/8, closed 9/16, opened 9/23, closed 9/30, opened 10/28, closed 11/12); Buck Bay (closed 7/23, opened 8/6); Siebert Creek (closed 8/12); Fox Island (closed 9/13); Agate Pass/Sandy Hook (closed 11/5); Indianola (closed 11/12, opened 11/19); Apple Cove (closed 12/9)
Testing for Alexendrium Cysts in Puget Sound

Alexandrium and PST no longer appears to be a warm water problem in Puget Sound
From the University of Washington on the Clifford A. Barnes and Alexandrium: We are working on mapping the distribution of Alexandrium catenella cysts in the surface sediments of Puget Sound. This dinoflagellate (type of phytoplankton) has a life cycle where it spends the winter months as a cyst in the sediment and then when conditions are right (warmer for instance) can germinate into the water column and reproduce.  [click here for study site] Beyond the closures of subtidal tracts, the awareness of the problem which Puget Sound has regarding Alexandrium and PST is found further in the testing which the University of Washington is doing. Through use of the Cliffor A. Barnes, they are taking core samples throughout Puget Sound to try and determine population "seed beds" of the cysts from which Alexandrium blooms. What is not clear is whether the current closures of subtidal tracts during the colder months means that Alexandrium and PST are no longer a warm water problem.

Poaching and greed presents a problem for everyone, not just the Chinese
On top of the agency awareness of chemcials within the deeper sediments in which geoduck grow and the apparent year round problem which Alexandrium and PST are creating comes poaching. Driven by the unsustainable price of geoduck, based on only what the Chinese are willing to pay, comes greed to "grab what you can when you can." It is next to impossible to guarantee no wild geoduck are harvested illegally. It is too easy for divers to work under the cover of night, hidden in the fog of south Puget Sound, to harvest wild geoduck. Inaccurate reporting of harvest volumes allows poached geoduck to be claimed as legally harvested and exported, arriving on China's doorstep with elevated levels of Arsenic and PST. When tested and found, is it any wonder China questions who is doing what?

This bubble too shall pop
The geoduck industry is not sustainable and it will collapse on itself, leaving Puget Sound's tidelands the victim
Whether it be the current situation or the elevated level of education making the Chinese population aware that geoduck are not the equivalent of Viagra, this bubble too shall pop. Left in its wake will be thousands of PVC used currently to grow intertidal, and perhaps soon subtidal geoduck. A few will have been made wealthy, able to walk away from long term leases and the mess left, leaving the taxpayer and tideland owners to clean up afterwards. Maybe some should be thanking China for bringing this to a head.

Who gets to clean up the mess?

Friday, December 13, 2013

China Bans Importing of Washington Geoduck - A Bubble Popped?

[Update 1/7/2013: Test Results by DOH show the skin of geoduck from Poverty Bay having  inorganic arsenic at levels the Chinese are concerned about. As DOH does not believe skin is normally consumed they have declared geoduck safe to eat.
[Update 1/4/2013: Test Results Delayed - The Department of Health has announced the results of testing for arsenic in Puget Sound geoduck will be delayed until next week. They had previously expected testing and analysis would be completed and results released by today (see article here). On January 5th it will have been one month since China first announced it had discovered arsenic in geoduck shipped from Washington's Puget Sound. Why test results had been postponed was not explained.
[Update 12/20: DNR suspends harvesting in Poverty Bay's Redondo tract where Arsenic was detected by China. The Puyallup Tribe which had been harvesting in the area also agreed to suspend harvesting until further testing could be done.]
[Update 12/15: For post on the geoduck bubble deflating see March 28 post. For additional comments on Puget Sound sediments see June 10 post on Oakland Bay's elevated levels of dioxins.]
[Update 12/14: China's ban is not limited to geoduck, but includes all shellfish. In addition to PSP, China has also stated elevated levels of arsenic were found. As reported in many studies, most recently Science in the Total Environment, arsenic from the ASARCO plant is distributed throughout the sediments in both fresh water bodies and in central Puget Sound, in some cases those same sediments from which geoduck are harvested from, both legally and not.]
Distribution pattern of arsenic/lead from ASARCO plant
(click to enlarge)
[Update 12/13: Chinese concerns about paralytic shellfish poisoning toxin are not limited to Washington's shellfish. The California Department of Health (CDPH) has warned consumers not to consume "sport harvested" shellfish from inner Tomales Bay and Monterey Bay due to paralytic shellfish poisoning toxins having been detected in mussels from these California waters.]
Alexandrium and Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning
A growing problem in Puget Sound

Washington state's Department of Health confirmed that China has banned the importing of geoduck from Washington state. Entry inspections of two geoduck shipments found concentrations of paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) toxins above standard levels. The toxins are the result of Alexandrium, a plankton now found further south than in years past, including Puget Sound.

Who will clean up this mess
when the geoduck market collapses? 

More than illnesses and geoduck profits are an issue
The loss of income and impacts to individuals and families due to illnesses from shellfish has been an ongoing concern to many. As noted, however, in earlier posts there is more than a health issue at hand. The geoduck industry has been expanding and has plans for many more farms throughout south Puget Sound. To date agencies have done little to nothing to ensure that when the market collapses someone will be responsible for removal of the hundreds of thousands of PVC piping and netting. To date, bonding requirements have been strongly resisted by the industry, let alone any other regulatory oversight.

Paralytic shellfish poisoning is year round and no longer an "Alaskan" problem
Unlike the Vibrio outbreaks which are occurring in growing numbers during the warm summer months, PSP is now occurring throughout the year. Numerous subtidal tracts in Puget Sound have been closed by DOH when sampling shows levels of the PSP toxins are higher than regulated amounts. While in the past it has been a greater problem in Alaska, it is now a growing problem in Puget Sound.

Vibriosis from shellfish rises from shellfish consumption, CDC concerned
In addition to the growing risk of paralytic shellfish poisoning the shellfish industry has been unable to control the growing number of outbreaks of vibriosis traces to the bacteria named Vibrio parahaemolyticus. In October the New England Journal of Medicine reported that the strain of Vp from the northwest has now spread to the Atlantic states. The spread of sources has resulted in the Center for Disease Control beginning an investigation into why.

Areas closed to commercial shellfish
farming in south Puget Sound due
to outbreaks of vibriosis in 2013
Most geoduck are grown/harvested
in south Puget Sound.

On top of vibriosis, a growing problem for the industry
In September the Huffington Post reported on the outbreak of vibriosis from oysters harvested in the northeast, further north than previously found in the past. A large majority of south Puget Sound was closed to the commercial harvesting of shellfish this last summer. Plans for increased production of genetically modified oysters which are sterile will likely increase consumption. Of more concern to the industry, and to the Center for Disease Control, has been an apparent inability to control the outbreaks which continue to grow. On top of vibriosis now comes PSP.

Agencies need to act with clarity, not respond to the shellfish industry's needs
It is time for agencies to begin acting with clarity. Bending to the will of the shellfish industry, no matter how important it is, should no longer be accepted. Contact your representatives and demand CDC and Food and Drug Administration be allowed to act. You can also help by donating to organizations such as Case Inlet Shoreline Association who are trying to protect Puget Sound's habitat.

Contact information for donations
(CISA is a 501c3 non-profit organization):
Curt Puddicombe
Case Inlet Shoreline Association (CISA)
PO Box 228
Vaughn, WA 98394-0228
Phone: 206-730-0288

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Year End Fundraising Letter
From Case Inlet Shoreline Association
and Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat
Contact information for donations
(CISA is a 501c3 non-profit organization):
Curt Puddicombe
Case Inlet Shoreline Association (CISA)
PO Box 228
Vaughn, WA 98394-0228
Phone: 206-730-0288

Dear Puget Sound Neighbor, 

Thanks to you we’ve made significant accomplishments in our efforts to protect Puget Sound from continued expansion of industrial aquaculture, especially geoduck aquaculture.  But more needs to be done, and we urgently need your help now to continue our work. 

Since 2006, we’ve been working together with you and other concerned citizens, our expert scientists and our legal team to combat the continued, largely unchecked growth of the shellfish aquaculture industry.  Now, this industry can no longer use public tidelands illegally.  New aquaculture regulations and permits are now required in every county except Mason County.  Shellfish aquaculture is no longer permitted in eelgrass beds.  And now, geoduck harvesting is not allowed when forage fish eggs are present. Due to our efforts, the Shorelines Hearings Board has made it clear that the shellfish industry is not allowed to harass or restrict citizens as they use public waters.  

But we need to continue our work.  Currently, we’re working with our legal team to address the cumulative effects of increasing numbers of aquaculture operations, both active and projected.  To do this, we’ve been appealing these permits at both county and state levels; but more needs to be done.  We’re working to require studies on the accumulation of effects before more aquaculture is allowed to expand further.

The available science tells us that shellfish aquaculture causes adverse impacts to nearshore habitats for fish and birds, including critical habitat for endangered salmon.  The question becomes: how much more of these adverse effects will be allowed?  Are these commercial operations in violation the Endangered Species Act, or the Clean Water Act?  Now more than ever we need to litigate at the Federal level citing these Federal protections. We also need to legally challenge County Shoreline Master Program (SMP) aquaculture regulations at the Growth Management Hearings Board showing that they are a reduction in aquatic protection and inconsistent with the original Shoreline Management Act. The issues of protections of forage fish, eelgrass and salmon habitat, massive amounts of plastic pollution, wildlife eradication devices and biodiversity must be addressed.
In summary, the Coalition’s and the Case Inlet Shoreline Association’s final actions in Federal Court and individual county Shoreline Master Program appeals will determine the fate of our aquatic life and the ability for citizens to be able to use our shorelines for recreation. Two Federal cases could cost up to $50,000 each, the Pollution Control Board case could cost an additional $40,000 and County SMP appeals could cost $20,000 each. In all, over $160,000 will be needed to win the necessary protections. 
I know this is a substantial amount of money, but I also know that we are the last line of defense.  South Puget Sound faces being turned into a monoculture shellfish production estuary. Citizens are virtually defenseless when facing unlimited corporate funds and political lobbying.  
We still have the chance to make a permanent difference for Puget Sound, but we need to finish what we’ve started.  It is the right thing to do and the laws are in our favor.  But we need to get to Federal Court and the Growth Management Hearings Board to be heard. Our partners in Canada have sent us the attached picture that clearly depicts why we need to move forward.
No donation is too large or too small.  Thank you for your generous support.  Donations can be sent to: The Case Inlet Shoreline Association, PO Box 228, Vaughn, WA  98394.  We are an all-volunteer 501(c)3 organization. 
Laura Hendricks
Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Mason County Shellfish Expansion - Part 2: County Considers Whether Public Tidelands Should be Leased

[Update: County contacts for this project are John Keates (JohnK@co.mason.wa.us) or the Mason County Commissioners (click here for contact information).]
When is enough too much?
Welcome to the neighborhood
County Tidelands on Harstine Island
Mason County is considering leasing 19 acres of the few remaining tidelands available to the public in south Puget Sound to the shellfish industry. The parcel is located between McMikken Island State Park and upland property also owned by the state on Harstine Island. If leased it would most likely be converted to geoduck farming, a process taking place along a large area of the eastern shores of Harstine Island and south Puget Sound.
County parcel the shellfish
industry wishes to lease.

Access across tidelands becomes restricted
Throughout  south Puget Sound people are finding long held access across tidelands restricted through geoduck cultivation. Whether it be access to the water or adjacent neighbors, the shellfish industry has decided it will now control who can do what on the tidelands. In the extreme, people who question whether permits are in place receive letters from shellfish attorneys telling them long held use of the tidelands to access neighbors is no longer an option for them. In the case of Mason County's tidelands, a hole between McMikken Island State Park and the adjacent upland area on Harstine Island will be created.

Taylor Shellfish geoduck farm on Fudge Point
restricting upland access to state park lands -
- and another wetland outflow habitat lost.

Shellfish industry is out of tidelands
For years it has been known that the shellfish industry is out of tidelands to use for geoduck farming. All of their privately held tidelands have been converted. Most private owners of tidelands who wish to lease have done so, leaving only public tidelands available, such as those being considered by Mason County. Apparently it is not enough.

DNR's management of tidelands
In addition to Mason County, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is also being pressured to lease the few public tidelands under their control to the shellfish industry. Multiple parcels are now under consideration throughout Puget Sound. Rather than supporting the replanting of subtidal areas currently being "clear cut" by the shellfish industry, DNR instead follows industry's lead and pursues the removal of nearshore intertidal tidelands from the public's use. It is not management of a state resource for the public's benefit but instead management for an industry's benefit to feed the elite of China and provide profits for a few.

When enough is too much - irrational exuberance is not sustainable
In the pursuit of money short term decisions are made which result in long term damage which takes years to recover from. Currently the pursuit of tidelands to grow a shellfish which only the Chinese are willing to pay extreme prices for is the result of nothing more than irrational exuberance. It is not sustainable and fractures the nearshore habitat and long established neighborhood relationships.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

[Updated 12/11] Mason County Shellfish Expansion: 18 Exemptions Issued for New Geoduck Farms/Shelton's Public Hearing on Boathouse Conversions

[Update 12/11: Shoreline Permit exemptions have been approved for Steve Wilson. County online records do not show those for Seattle Shellfish, Taylor Shellfish, or Matt Smith's Trident Marine Services have yet been issued or approved, only received. As seen in the 12/12 post, Taylor's Fudge Point geoduck farms were installed in May of this year.]

Shellfish Industry's Ongoing Expansion Into
Puget Sound's Mason County

Geoduck farms exempt from shoreline permits
Mason County has issued 18 exemptions for new geoduck farms this year. Four have been issued to Steve Wilson, one to Seattle Shellfish, six to Matt Smith, and seven to Taylor Shellfish. In addition to the exemptions, the Corps of Engineers and Department of Ecology must also issue authorizations which, in some cases, have been issued. In some cases unauthorized actions were taken requiring removal of structures from the tidelands.
Unauthorized placement of sandbags
by Matt Smith's Trident Marine Services.
The Corps required them to be removed.

Boathouse conversion to shellfish "FLUPSY's" to growout shellfish
Permit Hearing: December 16, 10AM
City of Shelton Civic Center
525 West Cota Street, Shelton, WA
Contact: Jason Dose, 360-432-5102, : jasond@ci.shelton.wa.us

"Lizzie Nelson [Capital Aquaculture Consulting] said she would operate out of all boathouses but knows that might not be fair." Presentation to Port of Shelton, June 4, 2013 )
"...doesn't think the Port should convert the marina into this but instead expand to allow the commercial operations." Citizen comment
"Suggested contacting Simpson to see if their tidelots could be used for FLUPSY operations." Citizen comment

In addition to the exempted geoduck farms the shellfish industry has now proposed to expand further its conversion of boathouses in the Oakland Bay marina to shellfish grow-out facilities. Through the use of "FLUPSY's" (floating upweller system) the boathouses would be converted to facilities used to growout shellfish to a larger size before planting. John Lentz had commented on an earlier permit proposal that so doing could increase hatchery efficiency 10 fold, increasing hatchery "output" from "70 million to 700" million shellfish (February 8, 2013). Citizens have already expressed concerns that the conversion to commercial use of the already limited space in the marina should be dealt with by either expanding the marina into a separate commercial section or using adjacent tideland areas already being used.

Chelsea Farm's Earlier Proposed Conversion
Existing FLUPSY's north of marina.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Corey Goodman and Sedona Dreams' George Whitehurst Berry

Lessons learned. Or not.
[Update: Moved to May 22 comment on Dr. Goodman's choice of who he is interviewed by.]

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Drakes Bay Oyster Company: Local and National Environmental Groups File Brief in Support of DOI and Wilderness

Request for en banc rehearing should be denied

The Environmental Action Committee of West Marin, Save our Seashore, National Parks Conservation Association, and Natural Resources Defense Council have filed a brief in support of the Department of the Interior (DOI) who opposes Drakes Bay Oyster Company's (DBOC) request for an en banc rehearing. As with the DOI brief, it lays out in clear logic why a rehearing before an 11 judge panel is not appropriate and should be denied.

En banc hearing requirements not met
In simple terms, this case "does not meet Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 35 or Ninth Circuit Rule 35-1 requirements for en banc rehearing." The brief correctly notes neither DBOC nor its amici (others who filed briefs in support of DBOC) have shown any "conflict between the decision and existing precedent" nor have they identified any "question of exceptional importance" or shown a conflict with another circuit that "substantially affects a rule of national application in which there is an overriding need for national uniformity." It succinctly states:
"While DBOC is unhappy that the Secretary determined to let the permit expire in terms DBOC agreed to, no rule of national application or overriding need for national uniformity is presented."
"If you accept what I have said so far..." (dissenting opinion)
In the panel's decision being appealed, the brief notes the dissent mistakenly believes that conducting a private oyster operation in a wilderness is "firmly grounded in the text of the Wilderness Act itself." It is not. In fact, the logic provided by the dissent is an "analysis of the legislative history focused on the bill as proposed not that as passed. The bill, as passed, designated Drakes Estero as "potential wilderness" with a mandate that it become wilderness as soon as the obstacles to such designation could be removed. Sharply, the brief note that the legislative history cited "reflects a proposal, never enacted, to grandfather the oyster operation into a Drakes Estero wilderness as a nonconforming use." In short, the dissent's logic should not be accepted.
Section 124 is narrow
While Section 124 (the legislation giving the Secretary the discretion to issue a permit or not to DBOC) may show a path to opening up designated wilderness areas to development, in itself, is an extremely narrow statute focused on one commercial operation in one geographically bounded wilderness area. While locally controversial, it is not a "question of exceptional importance" nor does it "substantially affect a rule of national application in which there is an overriding need for national uniformity." It "applies to a single discretionary determination whether to extend a single permit to conduct commercial oyster operations at a single potential wilderness site in PRNS." (Point Reyes National Seashore)

Permits expiring do not require NEPA
Unlike environmental assessments on impacts from issuing permits the majority decision held that allowing a permit to expire should not require such a step. It correctly notes: "If agencies were required to produce an EIS every time they denied someone a license, the system would grind to a halt." Believing the one time removal of the structures used for this commercial operation should require such an action completely ignores the ongoing activities which take place in the "harvesting" of the shellfish. Acres of shellfish removed from the racks present a disturbed surface area far greater than the boards and pilings which would be removed. Acres of plastic growout bags removed from the sediments create turbidity on a far greater scale than the removal of pilings. One time use of barges to haul out the materials removed presents far less activity than the ongoing daily movement of barges used for harvesting. Aquaculture is not restoration. It is an ongoing artificial press on any ecosystem it is taking place in. Its ceasing and allowing Drakes Estero to revert to wilderness does not require NEPA nor does the question rise to the level of requiring an en banc rehearing.

Unreliable research: Trouble at the lab (The Economist, October 14)
Dr. Goodman, in his brief and in editorials in papers he controls, continues to press his opinion that the scientific process is not perfect. He is correct in that it is not perfect, unless the realities of the world are shielded by the walls of an academic institution. To see how imperfect it is one simply need look at the industry in which Dr. Goodman is currently making a living to see how imperfect the scientific process is. Within the drug and biomedical fields which Dr. Goodman's career has been built are an astounding number of studies which are unable to be replicated. The Economist recently reported that Amgen "...tried to replicate 53 studies that they considered landmarks in the basic science of cancer...and were able to reproduce the original results in only six."    Bayer HealthCare stated they "...successfully reproduced the published results in just a quarter of 67 seminal studies." Perhaps what should be of most concern to Dr. Goodman and researchers in his field is this:
"...an official at America's National Institutes of Health (NIH) reckons, despairingly, that researchers would find it hard to reproduce at least three-quarters of all published bio-medical findings,..."
Science is not perfect. It never will be. All studies have flaws. Dr. Goodman will be able to find flaws in any study or evidence presented. But in this case, as the majority correctly noted, "...it need not resolve whether NEPA compliance was required because, even if it was, the Secretary conducted an adequate NEPA review process and any claimed deficiencies were without consequence." Nothing presented causes this to rise to the level of requiring an en banc rehearing.

En banc requirements not met and the request denied
DBOC and its "friends" have presented briefs in an attempt to sway the court to believe this decision presents a conflict with existing precedent, shows a question of exceptional importance, or  conflicts with another circuit that substantially affects a rule of national application in which there is an overriding need for national uniformity. Despite an orchestrated attempt to show a "large outpouring of support" this is not a popularity contest. As the Department of the Interior and its amici have clearly shown, it is a decision of law. The Secretary of the Interior acted correctly on the discretion granted him by Congress to determine whether the Wilderness Act was more important than one local company's commercial operation within a designated wilderness area. The request for an en banc rehearing should be denied.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Department of the Interior Files Response to Drakes Bay Oyster Company's Request for En Banc Rehearing

Drakes Estero: A Wilderness for Everyone

The Department of the Interior (DOI) has filed its response to Drakes Bay Oyster Company's (DBOC) request for an en banc rehearing. It presents in clear logic why the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal's decision "...does not present any question of exceptional importance, nor does it identify any conflict between the panel opinion and existing precedent." It is clear the Court should reject DBOC's request for a rehearing and allow Drakes Estero to revert to wilderness, for the benefit everyone.

Amici Briefs Not Persuasive
In addition to addressing DBOC's request for an en banc hearing, the response also addresses briefs filed in support of DBOC. The DOI states clearly that "None of the amici [friends] present persuasive reasons for an en banc review." Half of those briefs were penned or filed by DBOC's own counsel, a clearly orchestrated event.

Most persuasively, the DOI response notes that Congress could have made "...an explicit allowance for private commercial shellfish cultivation, but it chose not to do so, instead opting for a transitional "potential wilderness" in which non-wilderness would be steadily removed."

At the state level, DOI emphasizes that "...DBOC's state leases are contingent on the Park Service's continued authorization of its activities." It goes further to note "...the adjacent Estero de Limantour.." has already been converted "...from "potential wilderness" to "wilderness," even though it is subject to the same retained rights as Drakes Estero."

Jobs and entrepreneurship
It is true there will be a loss of jobs handling shellfish from Drakes Estero. However, it is also true there are thousands of acres of tidelands in California currently permitted but not in production. Examples of entrepreneurs who were laid off or fired from corporations who then go on to start their own successful companies exist throughout the United States. Corey Goodman, one of DBOC's amici's, is one such example. After being let go from Pfizer, Dr Goodman went on to become a successful venture capitalist and cheese maker. There is no reason these skilled employees could not take their knowledge of operating a shellfish farm, which they have been doing successfully for decades, and create their own successful corporation, providing their children with far more independence than they currently have.

Friday, November 29, 2013

New Geoducks at Risk With Deep Minus Tides and Arctic Air Mass Next Week

Late night deep minus tides (down to -3.5 on Tuesday night) and an arctic air mass which is forecast to move into Washington state at the same time will put those geoduck planted this summer and fall, and other shellfish, at risk next week. With temperatures projected to fall into the teens at night during the same period, shellfish exposed to freezing air temperatures may have their gills permanently damaged or die outright. Those planted in the higher elevations are especially at risk due to the length of time they are exposed to the below freezing temperatures (e.g., during a -3.5 cycle, those planted at a +2 tidal elevation are exposed to freezing temperatures for almost 5 hours). 
December 2013 Tide Table

Tides and forecast temperatures

Monday, Dec 2: Tide -3.1, Temperature 27 degrees
Tuesday, Dec 3: Tide -3.5, Temperature 20 degrees
Wednesday, Dec 4: Tide -3.4, Temperature 18 degrees
Thursday, Dec 5: Tide -3.4, Temperature 23 degrees
Friday, Dec 6: Tide -2.9, Temperature 23 degrees
Saturday, Dec 7: Tide -1.8, Temperature 23 degrees

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Seattle Shellfish Shellfish Hatchery Hearing Postponed, Tideland Ownership Unclear

Mason County has postponed the hearing on a Shoreline Substantial Development Permit for a shellfish hatchery on Harstine Island. The Mason County Journal reports it may be held in mid-January.
Mason County's contact is Grace Miller at gbm@co.mason.wa.us or 360-427-9670 X360. Permit # is SHR2013-00013
Northeast Harstine Island's lagoon
at the south end of Spencer Cove.
Proposed hatchery within the circle.
(click to enlarge)
Tideland ownership within lagoon in question
Located at the south end of Spencer Cove, the proposed facility is adjacent to a lagoon whose tidelands do not appear to have been sold by Washington. In a 2011 letter from DNR to Seattle Shellfish they noted the state had "never sold the tidleands" (see below). This issue is still unresolved as deeds from the state do not reference any tidelands having been sold.
From DNR to Seattle Shellfish
dated April 15, 2011.

Current use of tidelands
Seattle Shellfish has continued to use the tidelands still apparently owned by Washington and managed by DNR. Information submitted to Mason County by Confluence Environmental Company in August of this year notes it is being used for growing manila clams, oyster culture, and accessing company vessels.
From Confluence Environmental Company
report dated August 30, 2013. 
(Note: Confluence incorrectly refers to the tidal
lagoon as being Spencer Cove. Spencer Cove
is the larger body of water to the north, which
the smaller lagoon is part of, on the south.)
An expanding convenience - and value - for Seattle Shellfish 
For Seattle Shellfish, the convenience of being able to use these tidelands to support its geoduck operations cannot be understated. Upland bags of PVC pipe are staged then loaded onto barges within the lagoon where they are then transported to nearby areas of Spencer Cove. There they are inserted into the tidelands, planted with geoduck, and covered with nets (see picture below). With the proposed upland hatchery supplying seed for Seattle Shellfish's geoduck nursery adjacent to the lagoon its convenience - and value - will only increase with time.
Spencer Cove Geoduck Farm
(click to enlarge)

Monday, November 25, 2013

California Democratic Party Environmental Caucus Votes for Wilderness in Drakes Estero

From the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin:

Wilderness for future generations
is more important.

In Key Votes, California Democratic Party’s Environmental Caucus
Rejects Drakes Bay Oyster Company
Three Times
Caucus Votes Overwhelmingly Support Drakes Estero Wilderness by 3 to 1 Margin
Point Reyes, Calif. –  In a major win for supporters of Wilderness, the California Democratic Party’s Environmental Caucus overwhelmingly passed a resolution supporting protection of the Drakes Estero Marine Wilderness area in Point Reyes National Seashore on Saturday.
“Thankfully the Environmental Caucus agreed that a deal is a deal, and that the Interior Department’s decision to let the 40-year lease expire was good government in action. Like the millions of us that cherish our national parks and wilderness areas, they supported returning this ecologically rich estuary to all American to enjoy as long ago planned,” said Amy Trainer, executive director of the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin. “This company continues to flout the California Coastal Act, refusing to comply with the second cease and desist order against it, and it is fundamentally incompatible with a national park wilderness area,” said Trainer.
The 26-8 vote supporting Drakes Estero came at the annual meeting of the California Democratic Party’s Executive Board in Milbrae. It comes in the wake of the Sonoma County Democratic Central Committee’s approval of the pro-wilderness resolution in early October in an 18-5 vote.
“North Bay democrats clearly see the DBOC campaign aligned with the Koch brothers agenda, and we were proud to support protecting America's best idea, our national parks, from exploitation," said former Sebastopol mayor Lynn Hamilton. "I'm grateful to the Environmental Caucus for making the right decision,” said Hamilton.
On Saturday, the Environmental Caucus also twice rejected a resolution to support the ongoing operation of the Drakes Bay Oyster Company by 24-8 votes.
Amy Trainer and Lynn Hamilton spoke at the Caucus on behalf of the national coalition supporting the protection Drake Estero.
The Drakes Bay Oyster Company was denied for the second time a preliminary injunction to keep operating by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on September 3rd.  Refusing to take no for an answer, the Company petitioned for an en banc rehearing before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in mid-October, and the Department of Justice has been requested to file a response brief to it by December 2nd.  The Company was removed from the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Partner list almost 4 years ago and is being supported by the Koch brothers funded Pacific Legal Foundation and is working with the Tea Party in its quest to privatize Drakes Estero Wilderness. 
Amy Trainer
Executive Director

Environmental Action Committee of West Marin
Box 609 Point Reyes, CA 94956
(415) 663-9312 office
(415) 306-6052 cell

Protecting West Marin Since 1971!

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find reserves of strength that will endure
as long as life lasts.  ~ Rachel Carson