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:

Thursday, March 28, 2013

China's President Xi Jinping - Popping the Geoduck Bubble

Update 12/15/2013: China bans geoduck harvested from Washington due to elevated levels of paralytic shellfish poisoning toxins and arsenic. There should be little surprise to the Chinese - nor the Department of Health - given many of these geoduck are harvested from sediments which lie in the plume of the old ARSACO smelter which left elevated levels of arsenic and lead in the sediments from where geoduck are harvested. See Dec. 14 post on the ban and June 10 post on sediment contamination in Puget Sound where shellfish are harvested from.

Update 9/1/2013: China’s crackdown on corruption ... has forced a decline in lavish banquets.- In another indication of the risks tideland owners take on when leasing tidelands to geoduck farmers PhysOrg has reported that China's crackdown on corruption continues to decrease lavish banquets. While the focus of the article is on shark fins sold in China, geoduck are included in that category. It is only the hyper-elite in China who are able to afford the geoduck. That price is not sustainable, especially as the younger and more educated population come to realize the size of a geocuck neck has nothing to do with male virility.

"...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."
Market prices will not stay up forever.
"A half-dozen [geoduck] sold in a Hong Kong grocery
could fetch nearly enough cash
to make a four-figure mortgage payment."
For a decade a small number of people have profited handsomely from China's unsustainable lust for geoducks grown in Puget Sound. For a decade agencies have allowed a small number of people to transform Puget Sound's intertidal tidelands into geoduck farms. China is changing and agency oversight in Washington needs to change with it.

All bubbles will pop.
Driven by nothing more than a superstitious belief in a geoduck's ability to endow its consumer with virility, prices in China have sky rocketed. Affordable by only the elite upper class of China it is only a matter of time before this bubble, like all unsustainable bubbles in the past, will pop. China's new president, Xi Jinping, is holding a big pin next to the geoduck bubble.
Only a matter of time.

President Xi Jinping's
gastronomic vision:
"4 dishes and a soup."

"If we don't redress unhealthy tendencies...
we will lose our roots, our lifeblood and our strength."
A new vision...
President Xi Jinping will be the president of China for the next decade and has made a point of curbing the wild spending of the past and displays of gluttony so prevalent by the elite in China, under the catch phrase of "4 dishes and a soup." As reported on page 46 of the February 9, 2013 issue of The Economist, "China's online public is ever more furious about a parade of corrupt officials, whose stories are far more compelling than any statistics." To help quell the public's anger and to show action is being taken, Chinese authorities are now "descending on restaurants in search of large tabs".
“Order according to your needs.”

No reservations needed.
At this Xiang Xi Qing restaurant
business is down 30%.

...followed by results.
Radical drops in the symbols of gastronomic excess are currently being experienced. As reported in today's New York Times, shark fin sales have dropped 70% and edible swallow nests were down 40%. More to the point, "So far, most victims of the frugality drive have been purveyors of the good life: high-end caterers, abalone wholesalers, five star hotels and makers of Yellow Pavilion cigarettes, the $300-carton brand coveted by the up-and-coming bureaucrats." [click here for article] Not mentioned specifically but included are geoducks.

Bubbles don't pop overnight...

Nasdaq stock market -1996 to Febrary 2000.
...but when they do it happens quickly.
Nasdaq stock market from February 2000 - November 2002
"weird market blips in China regarding geoducks" (Bill Taylor, September 2012)
Bubbles grow over time and never pop immediately, but when they do it is dramatic and many people are left holding nothing. Anyone who was invested between the time Alan Greenspan expressed concern about the "irrational exuberance" he saw in December of 1996, through November of 2002, watched over those 4 years as it rose 500%. In the following two years it fell below the level it was when Mr. Greenspan made his remark. In September of 2012, Bill Taylor with Taylor Shellfish noted geoduck prices in China were experiencing "weird market blips."

"Everything about geoduck is driven by China," said Mark Schaffel, who raises farmed geoducks for Olympia's Northwest Shellfish Company. (Seattle Times, April 21, 2012)
Geoduck in Washington used to be nothing more than a side ingredient used in clam chowder. Today they are an overpriced food item, selling for over $27/pound in Seattle, only because of China's "irrational exuberance." That exuberance is coming to an end, and with it, the support of the unsustainable price rise seen over the last five years. With it, the profits supporting geoduck farms throughout Puget Sound will come to an end.

Who will clean up the mess
and restore the tideland habitat 
when the geoduck market collapses?

Agencies need to act on the probability of a market collapse.
Agencies acting on permit applications cannot allow themselves to be blinded by the "irrational exuberance" seen in the current geoduck market. When prices fall, and they will, it will no longer be profitable for growers to maintain or harvest their farms. When that happens who will be responsible for restoring Puget Sound's tidelands? Washington taxpayers are already supporting the shellfish industry through state funded hatchery research and state funding of water quality testing. Minimal tax receipts are received and jobs created are jobs not wanted by the unemployed, filled instead through migrant worker programs. Will Washington taxpayers also be responsible for cleaning up the aftermath of a collapsed geoduck market?


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

March 29, 2PM: Is this Oyster Really Safe?

City of Shelton Public Hearing March 29, 2PM
525 West Cota Street, Shelton
Email comments to: Jason Dose - jasond@ci.shelton.wa.us
Reference: SSDP 01-13 and SCUP 01-13

Dioxin and cPAH levels in Shelton Harbor's
upper sediments (0-10cm).
Is this really a good idea?
The City of Shelton will hold a public hearing March 29 at 2PM on a proposal by Chelsea Farms to place a shellfish nursery in the Oakland Bay Marina, on the shores of Shelton. Shelton Harbor's waters are currently classified by the Department of Health as "Prohibited." The upper sediments in Shelton Harbor contain elevated levels of Dioxins and cPAH  which at low tide are easily churned by prop wash from boats launched or in the marina (see table above, click here for DOH report). Boats currently moored at the marina are painted with antifouling paint which is designed to slough off to prevent barnacle and algae from growing, with these chemicals entering the water. A boat launch and well used parking lot are immediately adjacent to the facility. Fueling of boats and discharges from bilges is routine, as in any marina.

Location of Chelsea Farms
proposed shellfish nursery.

But one of many.
In addition to Chelsea Farms, Hamma Hamma oyster is also reported to have an operating nursery in the marina. More importantly, Chelsea Farms' current proposal is only one of a number of nurseries reported to be planned for other marinas throughout Puget Sound.

Is this what a marina is for?
Is a marina really where a shellfish nursery should be located? Isn't a location away from contamination, out of harms way, a better idea? And what of the public's access to the marina's facilities if shellfish nurseries proliferate? Related, will the shellfish industry be idle if their "seed" is found to retain the myriad of chemicals found in any marina or near any large parking lot along the shoreline and be unusable?

A better suggestion.
As noted in the application, there is an existing nursery facility located 1/2 mile east. Wouldn't it be smarter to expand the existing facility which is out of harms way instead of putting shellfish in the cross hairs of a chemical soup?
Existing nursery facility.

 And, by the way, where are all those shellfish going to go?
Chelsea Farms states that by utilizing nurseries, hatchery production will be able to increase 10 fold, stating "if a hatchery could produce 70 million 6mm oysters a season, by outsourcing the nursery phase to growers that same hatchery could produce 700 million 2mm oysters." (Note: Using Chelsea Farms' numbers, put another way, at 250 oysters per grow-out bag, the number of grow-out bags used would increase from 280,000 to 2.8 million.)

Where would 2.8 million extra grow out bags go?

Is this oyster really safe?
"The Department of Health Office of Shellfish and Water Protection recommends that people not harvest or eat fish or shellfish from Shelton Harbor and/or other areas that are prohibited for harvest because of bacterial pollution. If you’re concerned about contact with sediments, the Department of Health recommends that you rinse your hands and feet with clean, potable water after recreational contact with the sand, sediment, and water from this area." [click here]

Monday, March 25, 2013

Friends of Burley Lagoon Prepare for Pierce County Hearing on the DeTienne Geoduck Farm

 March 27 at 9 AM
Pierce County Public Hearing
on Detienne Subtidal/Intertidal Geoduck Farm
Public Services Building, (south entrance)
2401 South 35th, Tacoma
Written submittals must be in duplicate.
email: tbooth@co.pierce.wa.us
Reference: SD35-05
Note: Public testimony will be limited. Written testimony will be accepted at the hearing but must be in duplicate. Written and oral testimony should address specific code in Pierce County's Shoreline Master Plan and in the state Shoreline Master Program. 
(From the Pierce County Staff report)
"In Spring 2006, public outcry started
regarding all geoduck farms."
Six years later it continues to grow.
For good reason.

Proposed Commercial Geoduck Farm
Planting from +2 to -38 feet
4.5 acres planted subtidally
Dive harvesting for geoduck.
Note: This method is only using a
hand pump and only pulling 1 geoduck out.

"Heavier grained sediments settle out quickly"
Is a 10' buffer from eelgrass good enough?
Based on what?
Why does this permit approval matter?
The significance of the proposed Detienne geoduck farm cannot be understated. No county has ever approved a permit for a commercial geoduck farm in the nearshore subtidal (always underwater) area. There has not been any evaluation by federal or state agencies on impacts from commercial farms in the shallow subtidal area where the ~40,000 PVC tubes per acre are inserted and covered by netting, then removed, followed by harvesting.

No peer reviewed studies exist for this type of proposal.
There are no peer reviewed studies on impacts from a commercial geoduck farm in nearshore subtidal waters planted in the densities proposed. Often quoted Canadian studies by Chris Pearce are not comparable. Densities were far lower (2 geoduck per square meter versus 9 geoduck per square meter in Puget Sound farms).  Biological evaluations and opinions did not consider the unique aspects of the nearshore habitat, including currents and wave energy [click here, page 6-3,4 for subtidal wave energy]. The Ebasco plume study for DNR had a diver moving from one hole to the next, taking 50 seconds to go from one to the next, nothing at all like the commercial farm proposed where densities are far greater [click here for description, page 5-7].
Aerial view of a single diver
harvesting in Spencer Cove.
"Heavy grained sediments settle out quickly." More than heavy grained sediments are introduced into the water column, and it is not a "storm event."
As seen in the video of dive harvesting, and in the aerial shot of a single dive harvester above, fine sediments immediatly cloud the area of subtidal harvesting then drift with the current. Depending on currents and waves, but more importantly, the density of geoduck harvested, the cloud is not static nor comparable to those produced while harvesting wild densities. [click here to read DNR plume study] Wile densities are ~1/square yard, commercial 9/square yard. Equally important is the amount of time it takes to harvest geoduck subtidally.
"On a good day, divers may haul up 500 to 1,000 pounds of geoduck each." (Seattle Times, April 23, 2012) 
As proposed, the Detienne subtidal farm will be planted at densities of over 80,000 pounds per acre (assuming 1 per square foot, weighing 2 pounds each). As proposed, over 4 acres will be planted, or 320,000 pounds. This means that sediment disturbance in the near shore environment will be occurring for between 320 to 640 days. If additional divers are hired it means the area impacted will be far greater. Sediment disturbances being of "short duration"  and "settling out quickly" are meaningless in the type of ongoing operation being proposed. There are no peer reviewed studies.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Senators Feinstein and Vitter Dismantle the Wilderness Act

Politics Are Messy and Cloudy
"establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund
to reinstate the reservation of use and occupancy
 and special use permits
to conduct certain commercial operations.”
In a direct attack on the integrity of the Wilderness Act and congressional actions in place for decades, Senators Vitter (R - La) and Feinstein (D - Ca) have attached a last minute amendment to the Senate Budget Resolution attempting to force the National Parks Service to allow Drakes Bay Oyster Company's commercial operation in Drakes Estero to continue for another 10 years. [read LA Times article here] So doing will mean continued commercial development of over 1,000

Friday, March 22, 2013

Pierce County Public Hearing March 27 on Detienne Intertidal/Subtidal Geoduck Farm

March 27, 9AM (be early)
Pierce County Public Services Building
South Entrance
Public Meeting Room
2401 South 35th Street, Tacoma, Washington 98409
[click here for public notice]
[click here for updated staff report]

Intertidal/Subtidal Tideland parcel
owned by the Detienne family,
near Burley Lagoon and
state owned tidelands.

Pierce County will hold a public hearing on a permit application by Chelsea Farms and the Detienne family for the first intertidal/subtidal geoduck farm in Puget Sound, located near Burley Lagoon. It will determine whether the nearshore subtidal area (always underwater) will to be added to the already numerous existing geoduck farms. DNR has prohibited harvesting from state owned lands in these shallower subtidal areas (from 0 to -18 feet) and commercial development of this area was not considered in any Biological Opinions from the Fish and Wildlife Service.

One of many things to consider are recent concerns over Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP).
Clifford Barnes Research Ship
Testing sediments for
Alexandrium cysts
near Burley Lagoon.
From the University of Washington on why the Clifford Barnes was testing sediments in and near Burley Lagoon: 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]

Numerous subtidal tracts of geoduck have been closed due to Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) caused by Alexandrium, now during the cold winter months. In February alone, tracts 01000 (Protection Island), 10150 (Maury Island), 07850 (Restoration Point) and 09450 (Lisabeula) were closed due to elevated levels of PSP toxins, caused by Alexandrium catenella. Why these closures are increasing in frequency, during the winter months, is currently unknown. But in a Master's Thesis prepared by an Evergreen student this specific issue was considered as an impact to be addressed when geoduck harvesting was being considered. [click here for paper] From that paper: Water jet harvesting turns over the sediment and releases buried cysts and egg into the water column.
Current methods used by the shellfish industry did not exist when the shoreline management act was passed. It is misguided to consider current methods of shellfish aquaculture a "preferred use" of the shorelines. It has become an industrial development of the tidelands and as such should be much more tightly regulated.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

UPDATE: Public Hearing March 29 at 2PM: Chelsea Farms Proposes Shellfish Nursery in Shelton Marina

Update: A public hearing will be held Friday, March 29 at 2PM on the proposal by Chelsea Farms to place a shellfish nursery in a boathouse in the marina in Shelton Harbor. [click here for notice, scroll down to March 29 meeting] Location - 525 West Cota, Shelton
Comments on SEPA DNS determination for Chelsea Farms conversion of a boathouse to a shellfish nursery are due March 21. Comments should be sent to Jason Dose at: jasond@ci.shelton.wa.us 
Mr. Dose may be reached at 360-432-5102.
Additional hearings will be held for other permits.
How will Chelsea Farms prevent contaminated shellfish seed from spreading that contamination to healthy bodies of water?
Location of proposed shellfish nursery facility.
DOH has classified the area as "Prohibited" due to
excessive fecal coliform levels. Elevated levels of
Dioxins exist in the sediments, disturbed by
boats at low tide. Considered?
Documents detailing impacts available at the City.
Environmental documents available for viewing include the SEPA checklist, Shoreline Permit and site plan. The City has determined there is no significant impact from the operation. It is unknown how Chelsea intends on preventing the spread of pathogens from contaminated shellfish out of the nursery into healthy waters. How the operation will impact the use of the marina by the Shelton Yacht Club and other recreational users, as well as other businesses in the nearby Shelton area is unknown. If Mystery Bay is any indication of how the shellfish industry feels about the risk of recreational boats near their facilities there may most likely be an impact on how this marina will be used, or not. (From a recent article on Mystery Bay: "The Mystery Bay plan also aims to protect harvestable shellfish beds by monitoring and maintaining boat numbers in the bay. The plan also calls for a “no anchor zone.” [click here] Note: This restriction on boating was implemented despite there being no elevated fecal coliform levels in the body of Mystery Bay, only a "presumption" of risk.)
House Boat Chelsea Proposes
Converting to a Shellfish Nursery 
(click to enlarge)

In an optimistic proposal for a floating shellfish nursery facility, Chelsea Farms has proposed purchasing one of the house boats at the Shelton Marina and converting it to a shellfish nursery. Oysters and clam seed (presumably including geoduck) will be grown out for later use in tidelands owned or leased by Chelsea. Permit applications have been submitted to the City of Shelton. Also included in the proposal are two upland parcels owned by the Port of Shelton which make up most of the parking lot. What level of staging or how much employee parking will take place is not clear from the Public Notice. How much contamination the "filter feeders" will pick up and then spread throughout the rest of Puget Sound is unknown. DOH has the area classified as "prohibited."

In addition to the SEPA determination (comments due March 21), a Shoreline Substantial Development permit and a Conditional Use permit are required. The latter two will require a public hearing, to be scheduled later.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Drakes Bay Oyster Company and Senator Vitter: Part 2

Senator Vitter (R - La)
"I expect clear and complete answers ..."
Factual questions would help.

Senator Vitter (R - La) continues to help clarify what is behind the energy to force the Department of the Interior's National Park Service to renew the Drakes Bay Oyster Company's lease. It is not a love for raw oysters or their perceived effect.

In a letter dated March 18, sent to Ms. Sally Jewell, Interior Secretary Designate, Senator Vitter (a minority member of the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works) lists 19 questions he would like "thorough" and "clear and complete answers" to. [click here for letter] What standard he bases "clear and complete answers" on is unknown.

The first 6 questions are focused directly on how to expand or speed up permitting for oil, natural gas and coal. The next 7 meander around the protection of species by the Federal Government, state's rights and individual property rights impacted by that protection. Two more focus on hydraulic fracturing, another on Carbon tax, another implies "gas prices doubled" due to President Obama, and another asks clarification on her role as a board member with the National Parks Conservation Association.

Mixed in with all is a question about Drakes Bay Oyster Company's lease expiration which nobody could, or should, give a "clear and complete" response to as it ignores the fundamental issue: the lease has expired and the commercial operation must cease. Implied is a "vicious campaign" is underway to shut down a commercial operation. Ignored is the fact that Congress (who Senator Vitter is a member of) passed the Point Reyes Wilderness Act in 1976 with the only commercial operation to cease in 2012 [click here for Public Law 94-544]. Ignored is the current owner (who purchased the farm in 2005) having been told multiple times the lease would not be renewed. Ignored is the current owner having been found by the California Coastal Commission to be operating in violation of a cease and desist order from 2007 [click here for article]. Ignored is Congress (which Senator Vitter is a member of) gave the Secretary Salazar the discretion to let the lease expire in 2012, not the requirement to renew it as Senator Feinstein originally asked for [read analysis here].

While the shellfish industry is clearly concerned about Drakes Estero reverting to wilderness, it is becoming clear through the help of Senator Vitter how much the energy industry is involved. Everyone should be concerned about the precedent which allowing a commercial operation to continue in a designated wilderness area would have. It is a direct attack on the Wilderness Act. Contact your representative and tell them it is time for Drakes Estero to become the wilderness Congress intended in 1976.

Find your Representative here:  [click here]
Find your Senator here: [click here]

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Drakes Bay Oyster Tied Directly to the Expansion of Oil Drilling in Wilderness

Senator David Vitter
(R - La)

Doing a Vitter
If there was any question of whether the immense sum of money being spent in support for the renewal of Drakes Bay Oyster Company's lease was tied directly to expanding oil drilling in designated wilderness areas, it has been extinguished. Senator Vitter (R - La) has added to his "Energy Production and Project Delivery Act of 2013" (the Bill) a requirement that the Department of the Interior extend the lease for the Lunny family's commercial operation in a designated wilderness area for 10 years, with an additional 10 year extension after that. Adding insult to injury, it would also prevent Drakes Estero from becoming the wilderness shoreline area Congress intended when the Point Reyes Wilderness Act was passed in 1976.

 Section 310 of the Bill reads:
(1) the Secretary of the Interior, acting through the Director of the National Park Service, shall--
(A) reinstate, for a period of not less than 10 years, the reservation of use and occupancy and special use permits to conduct commercial operations within Point Reyes National Seashore in the State of California held by Drakes Bay Oyster Company, which expired on November 30, 2012, subject to the terms and conditions contained in those permits, as in effect on November 29, 2012; and
(B) on receipt of a request from Drakes Bay Oyster Company (or a successor in interest), renew those reinstated permits for an additional 10-year period; and
(2) Drakes Estero in the State of California shall not be converted to a designated wilderness.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Seattle Shellfish Tries to Break Away with New Hatchery

Proposed location of
Seattle Shellfish hatchery.
(click to enlarge)

In an apparent attempt to break the ties to geoduck seed suppliers which Seattle Shellfish is dependent on they have proposed locating a new shellfish hatchery on Harstine Island's Spencer Cove. [click here for permit] Located adjacent to a small pocket estuary* the facility would allow Seattle Shellfish to better control its production and perhaps reduce costs.

(*The pocket estuary's ownership is in dispute. Washington never transferred the tidelands to private ownership. Previous owners assumed they had owned the pocket estuary's tideland area, and Seattle Shellfish assumed they had acquired them. However, this was not the case and is another example of tideland ownership challenges. DNR has yet to resolve the issue. From use of the area by Seattle Shellfish it appears they are happy to wait for DNR to act.)

Satellite view showing current use,
including bagged PVC pipes (lower left)
used for planting. The tidelands seen
in the right half are still state owned.
(click to enlarge)

There are currently a limited number of hatcheries which supply geoduck seed to Puget Sound growers. Taylor Shellfish and the Lummi Tribe are the dominant two. If they chose not to sell seed to a grower that grower is unable to "plant" geoduck during the limited windows when the south Puget Sound tides are at their lowest levels. Perhaps also driving the decision is the subtidal commercial geoduck farm proposed by the Detienne family and Chelsea Farms in Pierce County.

Subtidal area of Spencer Cove
owned by Seattle Shellfish.

In the case of Seattle Shellfish, they are one of the few tideland owners whose tidelands extend into the subtidal area. Those areas have not yet been exploited as they currently are in Alaska and Canada. Should Seattle Shellfish wish to expand operations into that subtidal area there most likely would not be a sufficient source of seed for them to do so. Should the Detienne permit in Pierce County be approved, or should the state require replanting after their subtidal harvesting, it would open significant areas for commercial subtidal planting leading to an increase in seed demand. When Combined with recent permit approvals likely to expand significantly the tideland areas growing geoduck it is easy to understand the concern Seattle Shellfish has over controlling seed supply.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Drakes Estero Shoreline Wilderness: The Straw Man Gets Beat Up

Update: Secretary Salazar - “Very simply, a deal is a deal,” Salazar said during an editorial board meeting here[at the San Francisco Chronicle]. "You can debate the science… but at the end of the day, this is a property rights issue.” [click here for article]

If I only had a brain, I too could
argue about things unrelated to the question.

In the ongoing attempt to create a straw man argument to justify preventing Drakes Estero from becoming the wilderness shoreline congress intended 40 years ago, Dr. Corey Goodman continues to expend time and energy on something irrelevant to the decision not to extend Drakes Bay Oyster Company's lease. As co-founder of a number of pharmaceutical companies, Dr. Goodman understands well the importance of science as it applies to the creation and production of therapeutic pharmaceuticals and in the success of companies. No doubt he also understands that when a lease ends the property owner also has the option to not renew that lease. They are two separate and distinct issues.

Dr. Corey Goodman
Scientist and Entrepreneur

PhyloChip>PhyloTech>Second Genome
This focus on the scientific method and Dr. Goodman's later entrepreneurial drive is found in one of the companies Dr. Goodman helped fund and found, PhyloTech (now called Second Genome, whose Board Chair is Dr. Goodman). In November of 2007, Marin County Supervisor Kinsey and others authorized the acceptance of an $848,000 grant from the State Water Resources Control Board which would use a technology incorporated in "PhyloChip" for water quality testing in Marin County. Included was to determine its ability to detect pathogens which impact shellfish farming and to determine the source of those pathogens at a genetic level. At that November 2007 meeting John Hulls spoke of the unique capabilities this chip and product possessed.
[click here for a video of that meeting] *click on #10, "Beach Monitoring PhyloChip Project"
[click here for the first annual update]
[click here for the final report]
[click here for a brief discussion]

Berkeley Lab’s DNA Microarray
for Rapid Profiling of Microbial Populations,
also called PhyloChip.

It's not cattle and it's not septics.
John Hulls became acquainted with Dr. Goodman years earlier over concerns about what the sources of pollution in Tomales Bay were. [click here for a 2006 email from Mr. Hulls] Dr. Goodman had "been appalled by the antiquated state of bacteria testing." [click here for their history] As the owner of a ranch, or perhaps through an opportunity to use his ranch for the East Shore community septic system, it would be important to know what the sources of fecal coliform are. It is an ongoing issue in many bodies of water.

In 2009, Mr. Hulls, having experienced first hand the capabilities of the PhyloChip technology, phoned Dr. Goodman. Shortly thereafter Dr. Goodman had arranged funding and PhyloTech was started with Dr. Goodman as the Chairman. Since that time PhyloTech has changed its name to Second Genome [click here for company information] It is unclear what happened to the PhyloChip product and in a recent note, CEO Peter DiLaura told BioArray News, Second Genome "is focused more on opportunities in the pharmaceutical arena and conducting human health studies than on environmental monitoring as part of public health initiatives."

The Hulls/Goodman Tag Team Beat Up the Straw Man
In addition to John Hull's involvement with Marin County through the $848,000 grant, and over concerns of what pathogen sources really were, Mr. Hulls also became involved in the Drakes Estero shoreline wilderness issue. In September of 2008, Mr. Hulls wrote a letter to the National Academy of Sciences hypothesizing that there was "some other effect" impacting the seal pup population, not Drakes Bay Oyster Company's commercial operations. [click here for Mr. Hulls letter] About the same time, Dr. Goodman also began expressing concerns over the quality of science. To that end, both have devoted a great deal of time and effort in discussing just what it all means, or doesn't. So too has the shellfish industry through attorneys and environmental firms.

I've been renting this house for 5 years. I don't care if you own it, it's mine.
Unfortunately, their concerns are nothing more than beating up on a straw man which means little. The conclusions reached had nothing to do with deciding whether the lease signed 40 years ago should be renewed or not. The conclusions reached have nothing to do with whether the owners of Drakes Estero - the public - should be allowed to enjoy the Estero as Congress intended, 40 years ago. The issue is whether a commercial operation should be allowed to operate in a designated wilderness area. It should not.

Dr. Goodman's opinion on what is good science is irrelevant to whether a minuscule percentage of land in the United States should become wilderness or not. The shellfish industry may not like the conclusions. The oil industry may not like the conclusions. Cause of Action may not like the conclusions. Whether they choose to fund a legal challenge to that decision is their choice, but they will, in the end, lose.

Drakes Bay Oyster Company is not Natural
Drakes Bay Oyster Company's commercial operation is not "natural" in any sense of the word. Shellfish grown are not native. Structures used are not natural. Upland buildings used are unpermitted. This commercial operation is the only thing preventing the creation of a wilderness shoreline, the only one proposed which will be the only one on the West Coast.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Taylor Shellfish/Seattle Shellfish/Carol Taylor Propose New Geoduck Farm in Pierce County

Comments due by 4:30PM, April 8
County Contact:
Ty Booth, Senior Planner
Office (253)798-3727, Fax (253)798-7425
E-mail: tbooth@co.pierce.wa.us
Shoreline Substantial Development Permit: SD5-13
(Taylor Shellfish Farms - Haley)
Reference Numbers: 748284, 74828
Parcel Numbers: 0021221017, 0021221035, 0021223007
3702 190th Avenue KP North, Vaughn, WA

Coming soon to Key Penninsula.

Taylor Shellfish/Seattle Shellfish/Carol Taylor Partnership

Taylor Shellfish has submitted a Shoreline Substantial Development Permit for a geoduck farm on a tideland parcel recently purchased by Seattle Shellfish and Carol Taylor Family Partnership (SSCT), and  adjacent parcels owned by the Haley Beach Property Trust (of Brown and Haley, Almond Roca fame).
Location of proposed geoduck farm
on SSCT/Haley tideland parcels.

Death by a thousand cuts (aka, "creeping normalcy" or "landscape amnesia").

As with other recent geoduck farm permits a "small" number of acres is being applied for. In total, between 6 and 7 acres will be converted to geoduck farming. In addition to those already existing, approved permit applications on Fudge Point total ~12 acres; pending Detienne near Burley Lagoon is ~5 acres; Sullivan in Totten Inlet is 3 acres; and, soon to be applied for is a 30 acre farm in Burley Lagoon. Separately it is claimed there is a small impact. Together cumulative impacts continue to grow.

Proposed geoduck farm site plan. The larger parcel
is that owned by Seattle Shellfish and Carol Taylor.

Better owned than leased, unless taxes rise. Or the unsustainable geoduck bubble bursts.

SSCT purchased the tidelands and upland parcel from the Trustees of the James W and Janice E Hendrick Trust. The SSCT partnership paid the Hendrick Trust ~$260,000 for 5 acres of upland property and adjacent tidelands. From the site plan submitted to Pierce County it appears the Trust had close to 4 acres of tidelands which will be planted with geoduck. Assuming a conservative production of 1 geoduck per foot, there would be ~320,000 pounds of geoduck harvested every five years from the Hendrick parcel. At today's prices of $14/pound for #1 geoduck, had the Hendrick Trustees chosen to lease the tidelands they may have received $480,000, or more, in five years. It  is likely the revenues to the current property owners will be greater, unless the unsustainable geoduck bubble bursts. Then the Trustees would look quite smart.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Shellfish Growers Beach Cleanup March 13, Low Tide +1.4

The Pacific Shellfish Growers Association has announced their "beach cleanup" will occur March 13 when the low tide is +1.4 feet. [click here for tide table]  Waterfront property owners who would prefer growers not walk their beaches should call 360-754-2744.

Read more here: http://www.theolympian.com/2013/03/07/2451441/south-sound-beach-cleanup-set.html#storylink=cpy

PVC Pipe from Geoduck Farms
Located in the lower tidal elevations
of +2 to -4.
Beach cleanups, by whatever groups are important. However, until the PCSGA begins to hold these events during minus tides when much of the derelict shellfish gear of concern is exposed, it may be worth PCSGA considering not using the event as a promotional tool showing how little shellfish gear is collected. (see 2013 tide table below to see when minus tides - in red - expose the lower elevations)
2013 Tide Table (Olympia time)
(Click to enlarge)

March 11: Mason County Shoreline Master Program Update Meeting

Mason County's Planning Commission
Shoreline Master Program Update Workshop
March 11, 6PM
411 N 5th
Building 1, Commissioners Chambers

(Note: The Planning Commission has openings for 2 positions from Districts #1 and #3. To read about the importance of having 7 members, including the number required for a quorum, as well as the overall functioning of the Commission, click here.)

Shoreline Master Program Update ‐ Workshop
General topics of discussion: the role of the Planning Advisory Committee; General Regulations of the Mason County Comprehensive Plan MCC 17.50.
Regulations: 17.50.055: including – B. Critical Areas, C. Dimensional Standards, E. Vegetation Conservation, G. Water Quality, J. Existing Uses, K. Nonconforming, L. Legal Lots; Restrictions Affecting Value: 17.50.120; and Liberal Construction: 17.50.130; and Chapter IX of the Mason County Comprehensive Plan; General Policies: IX‐2: A, Ecological Protection, and I. Property Rights.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Friends of Burley Lagoon Newsletter

Burley Lagoon, Purdy

Friends of Burley Lagoon (FoBL) have published their first newletter. FoBL was formed in response to concerns about habitat impacts from commercial shellfish farming activities being proposed by Taylor Shellfish who recently leased the 300 acres of tidelands from the Yamashita family. Those concerns are now focused on a proposed subtidal/intertidal commercial geoduck farm near the mouth of Burley Lagoon. If approved, it sets a precedent and opens the door for an easier approval of Taylor Shellfish's 30 acre geoduck farm within Burley Lagoon. Important dates for the upcoming public hearing on March 27 are noted, as are email addresses for various county officials involved.

Burley Lagoon Newsletter
(click on images to enlarge)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Mason County Planning Commission Has 2 Openings

[Note: For a Kitsap Sun article on concerns over the current state of Mason County's Shoreline Master Program update click here]

Mason County has announced 2 openings on the Planning Advisory Commission (PAC) for residents from Districts 1 and 3. [click here] Applications will be accepted through March 15.

Mason County Commissioner's Districts
#1 - Randy Neatherlin (Harstine Island,
Case Inlet, Pickering Passage)
#3 - Terri Jeffereys - (Shelton, Totten Inlet,
Little Skookum, Hammersley Inlet)

The PAC is currently hearing Shoreline Master Program update recommendations from the "Citizens Advisory Committee" whose members include Diane Cooper with Taylor Shellfish and Vicki Wilson with Arcadia Point Seafood (the latter being one of the major geoduck growers in Mason County). After consideration of CAC comments, and the public's, the PAC will then advise the County Commissioners on final changes where the public will have additional opportunities to direct how they see the future of Mason County's shorelines and tidelands developed.
[click here to read CAC comments]
[click here to read 2013 SMP update PAC meeting minutes]

Current Planning Advisory Commission members include:

Bill Dewey (Taylor Shellfish)
Kristy Buck (John L Scott real estate)
Ken VanBuskirk (citizen)
Jim Sims (retired military)
Cathi Bright (Democratic Party activist)

While it is unclear whether any of the above will be leaving, Bill Dewey has missed 2 of the 3 SMP workshop meetings this year. He did attend the meeting on aquaculture.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Mason County Shoreline Master Program Update: Geoduck Permitting

Not Against My Business or Industry
"Permit? Not if I can help it."
If it was an oyster farm, no. If one of 20 within
an estuary (e.g., Totten Inlet) only one permit
is needed by the operator.

Evolution of the public process in Mason County.
Mason County's Shoreline Master Program update web site has evolved showing how the Shoreline Master Program Update is being guided by whom. What used to be a blank "public comment form" when "Public Comment is welcomed! Click Here" now provides insight into the process.

Recently added is a "Citizens Advisory Committee Comments" link to a January 22 pdf showing the county's response to the CAC comments from 11/13/2012 and 1/9/2013. [click here] The document gives a clear picture of how the proposed drafts have evolved and who was involved.
Sample page of comments
(click to enlarge)
Citizens Advisory Committee or Shellfish Advisory Committee?
From the names of those commenting and the number of their comments the shellfish industry was well represented. Included were Vicki Wilson with Arcadia Point Seafood (geoduck farmer) and Diane Cooper with Taylor Shellfish. Other members commenting included Eric Schallon with Green Diamond Resource Company (timber), Randy Lumper with the Skokomish Tribe, Monica Harle with the Lower Hood Canal Water Coalition, and representatives from Ecology and Fish and Wildlife.

Geoduck farm permitting? Not against my business or industry.
Monica Harle with the Lower Hood Canal Water Coalition provided many significant comments,  including that geoduck farms be required to apply for a Substantial Shoreline Development Permit and that Conditional Use Permits be required when non-geoduck farms (e.g., oysters) are converted to geoduck farms. Despite the Superior Court finding that the Attorney General "opinion" from 2007 was legally flawed, and despite the requirement that new geoduck farms be required to apply for a Conditional Use Permit, Mason County said no (see sample page 86 from the comments above). [read about LHCWC here]
[click here for 2007 AG opinion]
[click here for Superior Court decision]

Other improvements which help shed some light on the public process.
Other useful information on the web site includes the draft of the SMP policies here; the SMP regulations here; and the Mason County Code on the permit process, including the appeal process, here.

There is now a  Schedule of Workshops and Discussion Topics which leads to a schedule of upcoming meetings and topics. It is important to note that meetings and topics change so before relying on the table below you should call to confirm if the meeting is being held; where it is being held; and what the topics to be covered will be. The phone number is:  (360) 427-9670 Ext. 408 or 287. Typically they are held at 6:00 PM, located at 411 N 5th St, Shelton.

The public has the opportunity to become engaged in the process of ensuring Mason County's Shoreline Master Program update meets the intent of the Shoreline Management Act, is balanced, and not bent towards "jobs and commerce" or any one industry.

Futurewise Shoreline Seminar in Belfair, March 1 at 1PM

Futurewise and WSU are holding a seminar at the Mary E Theler Community Center in Belfair between 1 and 4. The event is free. Presentations will focus on shoreline health and Mason County's Shoreline Master Program, including the update process currently underway.


Mary E. Theler Community Center
22871 NE State Route 3
Belfair, WA 98528
•Curtis Tanner, Steering Committee Co-Chair, Project Manager, Puget Sound Nearshore Ecosystem Restoration Project
•Wendy Gerstel, LEG, LHG, Qwg Applied Geology
•Joseph Pavel, Director, Skokomish Tribal Nation Department of Natural Resources
•David Bricklin, Bricklin & Newman, LLP