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:

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Fudge Point State Park Becomes a Reality

UPDATE, July 1
Special thanks: As the dust settles there are some special thanks to specific legislators for the funding of Washington Wildlife and Recreation Fund (WWRP) which allowed for the acquisition of Fudge Point, among numerous other programs. Take time to let them know you appreciate their effort. They include:

Capital budget writers
Representative Hans Dunshee - (360) 786-7804
Representative Judy Warnick -(360) 786-7932
Senator Jim Honeyford (360) 786-7684
Senator Sharon Nelson (360) 786-7667

Others who played critical roles:
Washington Wildlife Recreation Coalition Board members:

Speaker Frank Chopp - (360) 786-7920
Representative Hans Zeiger (R-Puyallup) - (360) 786-7968
Representative Steve Tharinger (D-Dequim) - (360) 786-7904
Senator Christine Rolfes (D-Bainbridge) - (360) 786-7644
Senator Andy Hill (R-Redmond) - (360) 786-7672

and lobbyists Majken Ryherd and Jim Richards.

Take the time to call or write and tell them "thanks."

Funding for the acquisition and creation of Fudge Point State on Harstsine Island has been approved and signed into law. For everyone who made the effort to create what will be seen in the future as one of the state's great parks, thank you. Tell you state legislators and Governor Inslee "thank you" for having the foresight to make this a reality for future generations to enjoy. And to the Scott Family, thank you.

Fudge Point State Park
Harstine Island, Washington

Uplands and 3,200 linear feet of tidelands
to mean low tide have become a park.
Contact information to express thanks, and to encourage making this the state's premier park:
Governor Inslee - https://fortress.wa.gov/es/governor/
Find your Legislators - http://app.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/
Others who played a role:
Senator/Commissioner Tim Sheldon - http://www.co.mason.wa.us/commissioners/
Senator Karen Fraser - Karen.Fraser@leg.wa.gov
Members on the Capital Budget Committee - http://www.leg.wa.gov/House/Committees/CB/Pages/MembersStaff.aspx

Friday, June 28, 2013

Drakes Bay: Integrity in Information Quality Complaints

Saying something happened
does not mean that it happened.
No matter how many times you say it.
[Note: In November of 2012, then Secretary Salazar used his agency discretion granted to him and determined Drakes Estero should be allowed to revert to the wilderness congress intended. Drakes Bay Oyster Company's Special Use Permit expired, bringing to an end the right for the only commercial operation in that wilderness area to continue. Since that time, numerous parties have attempted to deflect the attention away from a contractual issue to one of differing opinions on whether data shows a commercial shellfish farm has impacts on the environment. Part of the latter is the focus of this piece.]

Industry Complaints about Information Quality
When complaints about information quality are made by an industry under the "Information Quality Act" it is a good idea for that industry doing the complaining to be sure the information provided is not lacking in foundation.
A house of cards will fall.

Recently, the Pacific Coast Shellfish Grower's Association (PCSGA) filed an "information quality complaint" about information used and conclusions reached on the adverse impacts from a commercial shellfish farm operating in Drakes Estero (see below for more information on the Information Quality Act - IQA). In explaining why the complaint is not "moot" as those previously filed by Cause of Action/Corey Goodman and another in 2007 by PCSGA were found to be, they state these conclusions "may still have significant adverse impacts for the shellfish industry and PCSGA members."

Drakes Estero

"...another red flag in a debate where civility and truth have been casualties to strong opinions." Congressman Huffman (D-CA) 6/19/13 MarinIJ
Where does the truth lie?
In their IQA complaint PCSGA states that "PCSGA members will be harmed" because "there have been at least two cases where the issues raised in the DEIS were used to deny oyster lease applications in Alabama and South Carolina." It is one reason, if not the primary reason PCSGA claims it and the entire shellfish industry is "affected" and why NPS should not consider the complaint moot.

This statement on permit denial is based on a "report" written by the conservative group Cause of Action which notes, on page 30, a letter by Bob Rheault, Executive Director of the East Coast Shellfish Growers Association (ECSGA), written to Kevin and Nancy Lunny, dated January 7, 2013. [Note: Kevin Lunny, owner of DBOC, is also the cousin of Tom Kehoe, ECSGA Vice President.] In that letter, Cause of Action notes Bob Rheault writing, "the issues raised in the DEIS [were] used to quash oyster lease applications-one in Alabama and one in South Carolina."  [That letter is within this body of Exhibits, a 45Mb pdf file]

Life of Its Own?
In response to a question from South Carolina, asking where this rumor may have started, Bob Rheault responded on June 24: "No one ever suggested the permits were denied - simply that new concerns were raised - unique concerns that as far as I recall had never been raised in previous applications. ...it has taken a life of its own."

Fabricated statements - intentional or not - that permits have been denied puts the entire complaint in question. On that alone NPS should reject the complaint.

The Information Quality Act:
Passed as a rider.

The Information Quality Act (IQA)? (aka the "Data Quality Act" or "Section 515")
The IQA is described in an article written in the Naval Law Review (beginning on page 91) which notes it "was most likely enacted at the behest of industry in an attempt to hinder environmental rulemaking."

Passed as a rider in 2000, the IQA was introduced by Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson and made part of the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act of 2001. [Note: Ironically, it was also a rider created by Senator Feinstein which gave the Secretary of the Interior the discretion to decide whether a commercial shellfish operation should continue in a wilderness area based on contractual terms, not on whether science is perfect.] The end result was its requiring agencies to develop policies based on guidelines issued by the Office of Management and Budget to deal with questions about information quality. As with all riders, very little public input was given and little attention was paid to the 227 words which made up Section 515 by those who allowed it to be included.

Section 515 - the IQA - may be found on page 100 and 101 here.
The National Park Service's implementation of Section 515 may be found here.

Politics at its best, law not at its best.
Section 515 (aka the IQA) was the result of Lobbyist James Tozzi and was described in the Washington Post as the "Nemesis of Regulation."

James Tozzi - mastermind of
the Information Quality Act
In the Washington Post article it is noted: "By demanding that government use only data that have achieved a rare level of certainty, these critics maintain, the act dismisses scientific information that in the past would have triggered tighter regulation."
In an earlier post it was noted that "perfect science" does not exist. Unless you are a professor teaching a class within a university's walls, where the world's realities are filtered out, you do the best with what you have. It will never be "perfect". As a result, with enough money and time anyone may question any scientific conclusion, even in a field in which you have no education.
As noted in the Naval Law Review: "Many commentators believe the true purpose of the Act is to impede rule making by providing industry with a venue to attack the science on which environmental regulations are based." Especially if that industry doesn't like the conclusions and feels its economic interests may be threatened, whether based in fact or not.
"Is Affected" is not the same as "May be affected"
In order for an IQA to be accepted and acted on at the National Park Service, one of the requirements is to include, "A description of how the person submitting the complaint is affected by the informational error." It does not say "may be affected".
In this case, PCSGA misses the mark. They have provided no proof that PCSGA "is affected". They state only that they "may" be. PCSGA has not been affected by anything, no matter how many times it is said they are. The complaint is moot.
Job Creation for the Wealthy
As for the role of the Information Quality Act, in this case Robert Gellman put it best in 2001 in a piece titled "What? You haven't heard about Section 515?"
"Rumor has it that a lobbyist dreamed up the original idea and sold it to a paying client and a gullible member of Congress. The chief beneficiaries of the new rule will be lobbyists. They will now have a new device for sucking money from clients who don't like the latest bit of data from an agency and who are stupid enough to think that filing a complaint will accomplish something other than enriching the lobbyist."
Insert "attorneys" or "public relations firms" for "lobbyists" and his statement is as true today as it was prescient then.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Full Moon on June 23rd Brings Low tides of the Year

Full moon will rise on June 23, 9:21PM 

Lowest and highest tides of the year don't happen by mistake. A combination of the full moon rising at the same time the sun is setting results in a gravitational pull experienced only a few times of the year. Living in Washington makes it all the more enjoyable.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

2 Faces of Burley Lagoon: Industrial Shellfish Farming at Night and Gray Whales During the Day

"We work with the tides and it's simply too bad you sleep at night." 
June 20, between 1AM and 3AM, Burley Lagoon was once again treated to a midnight symphony of engines and high pressure hoses from the shellfish industry. Apparently unaware that there are high tides during the day they could use they have decided to allocate their resources to disturbing the dead of night, for wildlife and residents who live in or near Burley Lagoon. Are there really no other options?

Burley Lagoon is different -
we get to work at midnight.
The previous day, June 29, people near Burley Lagoon were treated to the other side of a dynamic ecosystem which has supported a diverse body of wildlife for generations. In this case, a Gray whale found itself the center of attention. During a large part of the day the Gray whale seemingly found itself pondering the changes going on in Burley Lagoon.
Gray Whale at the mouth of Burley Lagoon.
A passive shellfish operation operated for decades by the Yamashita family is now being transformed into an industrial operation by Taylor Shellfish. At all hours of the night tidelands are being "cleaned" and "prepped" along with barges entering and leaving, loading and unloading their gear. Burley Lagoon is changing, and most reasonable people would agree it is not for the better. Unless you are the Taylor family.

Politics makes a difference, locally and nationally. 
Attorneys, lobbyists, and public relations firms are all well funded by the current profits generated from geoduck farming, helped also by government funding to promote the industry. This allocation of financial resources is putting at risk the Shoreline Management Act's overarching policy:
the public’s opportunity to enjoy the physical and aesthetic qualities of natural shorelines of the state shall be preserved to the greatest extent feasible consistent with the overall best interest of the state and the people generally." (RCW 90.58.020)
Political donations from shellfish associates help ensure the process moves to benefit the industry. March 28, the day after the Pierce County Detienne geoduck farm hearing, shellfish law firm Plauche and Carr donated $500 to Gig Harbor mayoral candidate Jill Guernsey. Taylor Shellfish employee Bill Dewey has personally donated over $12,000 to various candidates over the past few years. Not to mention the free shellfish provided at numerous political gatherings and well placed non-profit conservancy donations.
Gallatin Public Affairs
 Bruce Gryniewski
“I don’t believe in this eco-McCarthyism view
that if you work for coal,
you can’t do anything good in the world.”
What is evolving in Puget Sound and seen in California is only a part of a larger corporate movement to dismantle the environmental protections which have been in place for decades. Marketing sound bites of "job creation" and "helping the economy" resonate throughout press releases created by public relations firms. Recent articles have described Gallatin Public Affairs new love affair with coal. Criticism of the risk it puts Puget Sound at is labeled as "eco-McCarthyism", the outfall of a well paid strategic plan developed in somebody's downtown 11th floor office.

Yesterday it was reported by the Earth Law Center that "California Congressmen Tom McClintock, a conservative Republican, and Jim Costa, a moderate Democrat, are co-sponsoring a bill [HR 934] in the House of Representatives that would remove the federal wild and scenic designation on a section of the Merced River west of Yosemite National Park, thereby stripping it of federal protections." It is only one of the rivers being considered for "de-listing" by Congress, following in the footsteps of Diane Feinstein's failed attempt to force renewal of the Drakes Bay Oyster Company's lease in the only shoreline wilderness on the west coast, through a rider introduced in Congress.

These seemingly separate and distinct activities - Drakes Bay Oyster Company, coal export terminals, and Merced's Wild and Scenic designation - are indicators of the corporate forces at play who wish to redefine what a natural environment is. If allowed to move forward, it will take another generation to rein in what was undone, if it can be done at all.

How you can help Puget Sound.
Two groups who are involved in helping to ensure that the Shoreline Management Act is not skewed towards an industrial transformation are Case Inlet Shoreline Association and APHETI. Contact either to ask how you can help. Alternatively, contact your political representatives and tell them it is time to protect the Shoreline Management Act from a "corporate makeover." See also the Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat, currently appealing various permits.
How you can help nationally.
Contact your Congressional representatives and demand they stop corporate attempts to dismantle the environmental regulations in place, whether HR 934 or otherwise.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Drakes Estero and Congressman Huffman: Finally, a Breath of Honesty

In today's Marin Independent Journal, Congressman Jared Huffman brought a breath of fresh honest air to the debate over Drakes Bay Oyster Company's attempt to continue its commercial operation in Drakes Estero. A better example of what the word "integrity" embodies cannot be found elsewhere and is a clear indicator of why Marin County and others he represents should continue to support him.

Congressman Huffman (D, CA)

After having been mischaracterized and mis-quoted by Dr. Corey Goodman, Congressman Huffman felt it was time to speak out. In the Op-Ed he states clearly and with conviction:
Corey Goodman's misleading partial quote is another red flag in a debate where civility and truth have been casualties to strong opinions.
For too long people have allowed this process to be subverted by lobbyists and attorneys who represent industries whose agenda is not wanting to help the Lunny family continue their operation. Attempts by public relations firms to frame the issue as one of "government overreach" or of its being part of a subversive "Agenda 21" would be laughable were it not for the attempts to damage people's integrity which has come with it, intentional or not.

Attorneys' attempts to parse words and pretend the Point Reyes National Seashore was intended to include a commercial operation in perpetuity, covering over 1,000 acres, is great for billing hours. Creating the image of them being no different than a mother coming to the rescue of her injured child is something only a lobbyist could create. In reality, the amount of money spent in legal fees could have easily provided college educations for all of the employees' children or easily paid for relocation of the facilities and a new beginning.

Wanting to prevent the dismantling of the Wilderness Act which will protect Drakes Estero for the future of everyone, not one industry, requires focus and a strength of conviction few have. Standing in the face of a wind generated by political forces whose goal has little, if anything, to do with helping Drakes Bay Oyster Company's employees is a challenge few are willing or able to do. But a few have and those few will have Congressman Huffman to thank for the calm which integrity brings with it.

It is time for everyone in Marin County to take a deep breath of this fresh air.

How Many Geoducks Are Growing on my Tidelands?

Why you should have remembered your math.
(well, maybe not this one)

A large percentage of intertidal geoduck farms are on tidelands leased by private tideland owners to  a few shellfish companies. These owners are approached by company representatives with promises of a large check at harvest time. The amount ranges from 10% to 15% of the gross revenues, determined by the pounds of geoduck harvested and the current "market" price. With planting densities of three per square foot, a 60' X 100' tideland parcel could result in a check of up to $50,000 every 4 to 5 years. (After expenses the shellfish grower could easily net over $200,000 in profit.)

However, some tideland owners are finding that the check received is far less than what they had expected. There are a number of variables which weren't made quite clear enough at the signing of the contract, in some cases lasting for over 15 years. One of the most important is that you should be aware of what you have.

How many geoduck are there?
For example, as in timber harvesting there are a variety of log types and densities, some worth more than others. Not all geoduck harvested are considered "#1" grade which receive the higher prices which have ranged up to $14/pound, sometimes far higher (the Seattle Times reported last year prices up to $24/pound) . A short dark "neck" or a discolored shell will quickly drop the price Chinese are willing to pay. But an important variable is how many pounds of geoduck are harvested.

Not all geoduck are created equally.

Variables impacting density range from the survival of the seed planted to poaching. Whatever the case, a prudent tideland owner should be aware of what is planted and growing on their tideland parcel. This coming weekend presents a prime opportunity for those tideland owners who have leased their tidelands to a grower to inspect their "crop" and set their expectations.

(it's not rocket science)
[total square feet planted]*[average/square foot]*[1.5 pounds]*[$/pound]*[15%]
While digging a geoduck for sampling would most likely not be allowed by the grower (they'll claim ownership), sampling the area to determine the density of geoduck currently growing is a wise step all tideland lessors should take and an easy process.

1. Determine the total area in square feet where geoduck have been planted. This area should be easy to find from permit applications submitted by the grower. If you don't have it you may ask the grower for it or simply measure the area. A 60' X 100' area would equal 600 square feet.
2. Using a yard stick, lay out a number of 3' X 3' squares (each being 9 square feet) in different areas for sampling and count the number of "show"(siphons) which are within each square. If survival is high, you may have up to 27 geoduck within that square. If survival is low, or poaching is occurring, it may be much less.
3. When you have determined what the average number of geoduck per square foot is, then it is simply a matter of multiplying that number times the number of square feet the grower has planted on your tidelands.
4. After you had determined the number of geoduck growing, multiply that number times 1.5 or 2.0 (the latter if your harvest time is longer than 5 years) to determine the number of pounds.
5. Call your grower or Taylor Shellfish and ask them what the landed price for geoduck is then multiply that times the number of pounds growing, then that number times your lease %.

Using the 60' X 100' example above:
[60*100=6,000 square feet]
3X3 areas showed an average of 27 geoduck growing in each area, or 3 geoduck per square foot.
Total number growing is 18,000.
[6,000*3=18,000 geoduck]
Harvest time at 4th year should result in a 1.5 pound geoduck, or 27,000 pounds.
[1.5*18,000=27,000 pounds]
Landed price is $14, or a gross amount of $378,000, of which the owner gets 15%, or $56,700.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Taylor Shellfish Mussel Raft Permit: Shorelines Hearings Board Reverses Thurston County Requirement for Additional Information

The Shorelines Hearings Board reversed Thurston County's decision to require additional information before a permit for their 58 raft mussel farm at the mouth of Totten Inlet would be approved.

Concerns expressed by the Hearing Examiner over dissolved oxygen being lowered to levels at which marine species become stressed were dismissed. Concerns expressed by the Hearing Examiner over non-native species of mussels displacing native blue mussels were dismissed. Concerns over benthic impacts, while not dismissed, were dealt with by allowing Taylor Shellfish to develop and submit a monitoring plan to check on impacts which would be implemented after start of the farm.

There is now a 30 day period for Thurston County and/or APHETI (Association to Protect Hammersley, Eld and Totten Inlets) to file an appeal. Taylor may also appeal the decision's requirement for additional monitoring.

You may contact APHETI at: apheti@gmail.com
You may donate to APHETI at: http://apheti.org/donation.htm

Monday, June 17, 2013

Shellfish Industry: Welcome to the Neighborhood

A recent night in Burley Lagoon was treated to what Case Inlet has been experiencing for years now. June 13th, at 11PM in Burley Lagoon, wildlife and residents were awoken by motors and lights from Taylor Shellfish. In Case Inlet they know too well what Burley Lagoon has to look forward to.
Sunday May 5, 2013
Case Inlet 4:07AM
It's not a rooster that woke you up.
Over the past year the avian wildlife, shoreline species, and residents in Burley Lagoon have noticed a new neighbor plying the grounds in the dead of night. Where at one time peaceful sleep and calm waters greeted species who have used Burley Lagoon as a resting place, now oyster barge engines, waves, metal racks being loaded and unloaded, and flood lights reflecting off the waters prevent what all species need but none get enough of: sleep.
Is there enough light for you?
Good morning Case Inlet.
May 5 of this year, at 4AM in the morning, the shoreline of Case Inlet was treated once more with a gift from the shellfish industry: daytime at night, accompanied by the noise of racks and crates being loaded. While "Best Management Practices" of the industry may ask that their workers use low level lights pointed down and away from the shoreline to help minimize the environmental impacts to an area, they seem to have forgotten that flood lights on their barges and "skiffs" may also have an impact. Agencies seem to also not grasp the fact that not all shellfish companies, or their workers, care about "Best Management Practices" nor do they understand that unless made a specific legal requirement there is little anyone can do about it.
At the Detienne permit hearing it was clearly noted by industry that geoduck related activities do not need to occur during the low tides. If a subtidal farm can be created underwater, why should any geoduck related activities be allowed to occur at 4AM in the morning?

Sunday, June 16, 2013

June 23: Lowest Tide of 2013 (-4) Will Occur at Noon (Olympia Time)

June Tide Chart (Olympia Times)
Sunday, June 23, South Puget Sound (that area south of the Tacoma Narrows) will see the lowest tide of 2013, just after noon (12:16, Olympia). At that point the tidal elevation will be at a -4 level, after which the next 7.5 hours will see enough water flow through the Narrows to cause the entire body of water in south Puget Sound to rise 19.5 feet. Monday will see an even greater rise, from -4 (1:03PM) to +16 (8:11PM). Mid-afternoon of the 23rd, currents through the Tacoma Narrows climb to over 7 knots.

Current Direction/Speed at 4:30PM, June 23

These low tides and the extreme flows of water come only a few times of the year. Make a point of getting out to see a world found only in Puget Sound. You may also be able to find out what it is Taylor Shellfish has been doing in Burley Lagoon during the night hours, disturbing many resident's sleep.

Why were all these removed from
Burley Lagoon's tidelands?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Drakes Estero Wilderness: A Contract is not a Scientific Study

A Contract is Not Made of Straw
The Point Reyes Light newspaper, owned by Marin Media Institute which Dr. Corey Goodman co-founded, has published another Op-Ed piece which he authored. In that piece he attempts, once again, to breath life into his straw man  concerns over "perfect science" and claims Representative Huffman's reasons for not supporting a poorly written resolution passed by the Sonoma City Council are "mistakes." In Dr. Goodman's attempt to bait Representative Huffman into engaging him over something which is a side show he has created and tries to breath life into over and over, he wades further into the swamp where integrity is easily lost.
At issue with the Drakes Bay Oyster Company is not whether the science is perfect or not. It is a black and white contract which Drakes Bay Oyster Company entered into. They believed they could overcome the Wilderness Act and continue their commercial operation in Drakes Estero, thereby preventing the completion of the only shoreline wilderness on the West Coast. It was a false belief and a gamble which they lost. It was a contract they signed and need to honor.
Dr. Goodman, as Chairman of Labrys Biologics, Second Genome, Oligasis, Ossianix, Limerick BioPharma, Executive Chairman of Solstice Biologics, and Partner in VenBio, along with his past experience knows anyone's "science" can be easily pulled apart. No doubt many of his studies did not stand up to the scrutiny of peer review. You do the best with what you have. 
But in his various roles of the companies listed, Dr. Goodman also knows the value of a contract. After it is written and agreed to, signed and dated, it is not something which is as gooey as a conclusion based on imprecise data. It is sacrosanct and is one of the primary foundations for successful businesses, such as those Dr. Goodman has started and which he seeks capital for.
Dr. Goodman no doubt believes the conclusions drawn should be questioned. What nobody has justification in believing is that an agreement created 40 years ago is something which should simply be cast aside. It is time for Drakes Bay Oyster Company to realize the steps taken are creating a template for the dismantling of the Wilderness Act. As Dr. Goodman knows from past business failures, sometimes a business needs to close so you can move on to more successful things.

Thurston County Withdraws/Re-issues SEPA Determination for NW Shellfish/Staley Geoduck Farm

Comments due June 25, appeal date is July 2.
Email comments to Scott McCormick at mccorms@co.thurston.wa.us.
Reference project 2012103227

Thurston County has withdrawn and re-issued its SEPA determination of "Mitigated Determination of Non-Significance" (MDNS) on the proposed geoduck farm located on the William and Marie Staley tideland parcel, operated by Northwest Shellfish. The changes did not benefit the near shore environmental impact, individually or cumulatively, nor did they address the lack of information provided.

Picture submitted with application which
cuts off the tideland area where existing
shellfish operations are located.
2009 satellite view from the same
Thurston County Geodata web site.
(click to enlarge)
Location of existing farms to the north.

It appears the changes are the result of operator/owner comments wanting to weaken the conditions, not any concerns over the continued expansion of geoduck farming and cumulative impacts. As noted in an earlier piece on this site the proposal neglected to mention shellfish operations on adjacent parcels and larger operations to the north. Could Thurston County truly consider whether this met the requirements of SEPA which require accurate information to be submitted? Will it meet the requirements of the Shoreline Management Act and their own Shoreline Master Program requirements when the development permit is applied for?
Rather than addressing the lack of accurate information having been provided, instead, the following changes were made:
Condition 3, which required a recorded document which would allow access to the site for research was changed to simply allowing the owner/applicant to "consider" requests and to grant such requests if they do not disrupt farming activities.

Condition 8, which required all tubes and netting to be removed from the site within 2 years, was extended to allow for them to remain for 2.5 years.

The shellfish industry is actively involved in continuing to weaken the regulatory oversight of their activities and expansion. The Shoreline Management Act continues to be weakened by their political involvement in the local creation of county Shoreline Master Programs and in the SEPA process. Most recently the Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association has become involved in weakening the Wilderness Act's ability to protect wilderness areas from commercial development through preventing Drakes Estero from becoming wilderness. Are they really the canary in the coal mine or have they have become the strip miners of Puget Sound's tidelands?

Monday, June 10, 2013

Source of Elevated Dioxin Levels in Oakland Bay (WA) Still Unknown

[Update 12/15/2013: Chinese ban shellfish harvested from Washington waters due to elevated levels of arsenic and paralytic shellfish poisoning toxins. Given Puget Sound's past use a convenient body of water to discharge pollutants into it's little surprise. In fact, one could say the surprise is why it took so long for contaminated shellfish to work their way into the system. See 12/13 post on the Chinese ban.]

60% of Manila clams produced in the
United States come from Oakland Bay, WA
The Department of Ecology has released its most recent report on the elevated levels of Dioxins discovered in 2008 testing of sediments of Oakland Bay (Shelton, WA). At that time questions of what levels of contaminants may exist below 12 inches resulted in testing and a final report, briefly summarized here. The entire text of the report on what the deeper sediment testing revealed may be found in Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3  (5mb, 5mb, 2mb respectively). In short, elevated levels of Dioxins lead to further testing and additional reports.

Harvesting clams in Oakland Bay
(sediment runoff from harvest area)

(click to enlarge)

In Oakland Bay (WA) over 60% of Manila clams in the United States are produced. Within Oakland Bay, Chapman Cove produces Kumamoto oysters described by Taylor Shellfish as having a "distinctive green tinge." In shellfish tissue samples taken for the DOH health analysis, performed after the elevated levels were discovered, the Kumamoto's were found to have the highest "ppt" (parts per trillion) of all shellfish tested. In the report, DOH felt the shellfish were safe for consumers, although they did recommend in their sediment evaluation consumers do such things as wash clams, hands, faces, brush under nails, and clean pets before allowing them inside (p. 17 and 18).

Dioxin levels in shellfish
from Oakland Bay.
According to the summary of the most recent report on possible sources, sediment samples taken from creeks feeding into the Bay indicate "these surface water inputs do not currently appear to be the source of the bay-wide dioxin levels."

Dioxin levels in Oakland Bay, Shelton Harbor,
and the "ash mound" near Shelton Creek.
(Note: The proposed Puget Sound
benchmark is 4ng/Kg.)
Within the more detailed report (10mb) it was noted that an old ash mound near Shelton Creek was found to have levels of Dioxins which, while elevated, are still below those found in the sediments of Shelton Harbor where Oakland Bay Marina is located. (Note: The City of Shelton recently amended its updated Shoreline Master Program to allow for up to 10 shellfish nurseries within existing boathouses.)

Shellfish nurseries existing and
proposed at the mouth of Shelton Creek
in Shelton Harbor.

Levels of Dioxins in the sediments of Oakland Bay, Shelton Harbor, and the Ash Mounds range from 4 times times to 8 times the statewide soil background levels of 5 ng/Kg (p. 20). The levels found near the mouth of Shelton Creek were just over 8 ng/Kg. Those in Oakland Bay were over 30 ng/Kg; Shelton Harbor 42 ng/Kg; with the two Ash Mound levels being 21 and 40 ng/Kg. The proposed benchmark for Puget Sound is 4 ng/Kg.

Just because you can't see it
doesn't mean it's not there.
Long life chemical pollutants do not
go away just because they are buried.

The long life of chemicals in sediments of Puget Sound, and elsewhere, is an ongoing problem for many areas. In the extreme are sediments near the ASARCO plant in Tacoma where mercury, lead, arsenic and other harmful chemicals exist within the deeper levels of sediments. 
In the current case, Oakland Bay was once thought to have sediments which were of little concern until sediments from deeper levels were analyzed. In that study (see opening paragraph above) it was shown that while sedimentation may slowly bury those chemicals from past historical activity, they do not go away.  More importantly, testing only the upper surficial levels does not reveal the complete picture. 
Geoducks harvested from depths of 3'
bring with them whatever is
contained in those sediments.
Whether "dry" harvesting (above) 
or "dive" harvesting (below).

Activities which expose those buried levels of sediments and cause them to re-enter the water column where they enter the food chain should be a concern for all. There, shellfish filter them out of the water column. Higher level species such as salmon consume lower level species which have absorbed them, in turn entering the food chain. These chemicals are like an Uncle who just keeps coming back and overstays his welcome.
Burley Lagoon, near Purdy in
south Puget Sound.
Currently Burley Lagoon is one of those areas where past industrial activity may have left remnants within deeper sediments. A letter to the Department of Ecology from the Department of Health noted elevated levels of polycholorinated byphenyl (PCB) were found in shellfish tissue samples.

"Shellfish samples exceeded screening level and will be evaluated further."

The likely source was the Stradley-Manning Super Fund site where transformers were stored and from which PCB's contaminated the area for years. The site was eventually cleaned and declared "safe" by EPA, but those PCB's which flowed downstream into Burley Lagoon to settle into the sediments to slowly be buried remain there, undetected and currently undisturbed.
In the letter to DOE, DOH performed an analysis which determined the shellfish with elevated levels of PCB were not a health risk. Not determined in that letter were whether elevated levels of PCB still exist in the deeper sediments, and if so, whether harvesting from current geoduck or future geoduck will re-introduce them into the water column. Should Taylor decide to move ahead with plans to develop its 30 + acre geoduck farm it may be wise to suggest DOE and DOH require deeper sediment testing.
DOE might also consider adding as a "recommendation" in its most recent report on the elevated levels of Dioxins within Oakland Bay that future sites where geoduck harvesting is occurring require sediment testing. It seems the Uncle may still be there, sleeping on the couch.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Taylor Shellfish/Haley Geoduck Farm: Pierce County Expresses Concerns Over Size of Operation, Helping Reinforce the Need for an EIS/Cumlative Impacts Analysis

"The Haley project is much larger than the previous two farms and I’m not sure whether the conclusions of the various studies and pieces of literature referenced in the BE can be applied without some additional discussion." Pierce County Memo Dated 5/15/13

"Evidence is increasing that the most devastating environmental effects may result not from the direct effects of a particular action, but from the combination of individually minor effects of multiple actions over time." (Chapter 1, Introduction to Cumulative Effects Analysis, Council on Environmental Quality)

Pierce County Expresses Concerns on Taylor Shellfish/Haley Geoduck Farm
Pierce County has expressed concerns over the size of the Taylor Shellfish/Haley Geoduck farm, questioning whether literature referenced in Environ's* Biological Evaluation is applicable to a farm of this size. They have asked for additional information to be submitted.
(*Environ Principal Greg Reub and past Principal Jeff Fisher, now with NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service, are registered owners of companies involved in geoduck farming.)

Haley/Seattle Shellfish/Taylor Shellfish
Parcels on Case Inlet

Overview of area
(Spencer Cove is directly below
the arrow, west of the Haley Farm)
As noted in comments submitted on many permit applications there should be a focus on the number and size of expanding operations as well as the infrastructure supporting that expansion. While generally focused on geoduck farming, the proposed expansion of other shellfish operations with non-native/genetically modified Pacific oysters, invasive Manila clams and rafts of non-native Gallow mussels adds to the problem. The time for an Environmental Impact Statement where a complete Cumulative Impacts Analysis addresses the growing impacts from aquaculture in Puget Sound is now, not after the fact. The Shoreline Management Act's defining Puget Sound's habitat as "among the most valuable and fragile of its natural resources" clearly supports this position (RCW 90.58.020).

Cumulative Impacts Analysis
The need for a cumulative impacts analysis is found in Consideration of Cumulative Impacts in EPA Review of NEPA Documents. It begins with: "The combined, incremental effects of human activity, referred to as cumulative impacts, pose a serious threat to the environment." The combination of activities which are occurring in size, time, and location which are associated with the "Haley Farm" helps to establish why it is needed.

In the EPA document, it notes:
CEQ's [Council on Environmental Quality] regulations (CEQ, 1987) explicitly state that cumulative impacts must be evaluated along with the direct effects and indirect effects of each alternative. By mandating the consideration of cumulative impacts, the regulations ensure that the range of actions that is considered in NEPA documents includes not only the project proposal but also all actions that could contribute to cumulative impacts.
In the case of the "Haley Farm" multiple levels of expanding activities are found. At the farm level, as Pierce County notes, it is larger than any previously proposed, and contrary to statements from the shellfish industry that there are only a few tidelands where geoduck may be planted, there are still vast areas of flat and sandy beaches which have never been developed in south Puget Sound.

Subtidal Nearshore Farm is Permitted

Detienne Farm, the first subtidal farm
to receive a permit for planting and harvesting.

Adding to the growing intertidal developments are the nearshore subtidal regions which have only recently been proposed as areas to plant. Recently the "Detienne Farm" permit was approved by the Pierce County Hearing Examiner which included over 4 acres of subtidal area, with one of the few native eelgrass beds in south Puget Sound splitting the proposed intertidal and subtidal operation (see Detienne Farm post for an overview). On Harstine Island, across from the "Haley Farm" is a vast subtidal area, a large portion owned by Seattle Shellfish, which has not yet been commercially planted. Pierce County's permitting of the Detienne Farm establishes a precedent for others to follow.

Spencer Cove's privately owned
subtidal area, directly west of
the "Haley Farm"

Expanding Shellfish Hatchery and Nursery on Spencer Cove
In addition to the exponential increase in acres which the Detienne Farm's approval has now added to impacting Puget Sound's "most valuable and fragile" area is the infrastructure necessary for this to occur. In the case of the Haley Farm, one of its parcels is jointly owned by the Taylor Shellfish family and Seattle Shellfish, tying the two more tightly together. Seattle Shellfish has a large geoduck and nursery operation in Spencer Cove, directly west of the proposed Haley Farm. Uplands adjacent to the state owned lagoon seen in the picture below are under consideration for an industrial  hatchery. PVC pipe is currently "bagged" and loaded onto barges from the site.

In February Seattle Shellfish met with Mason County to discuss placing an upland shellfish nursery to support its growing operation, a follow-up on a 2010 meeting. Recently installed were "nursery rafts" in which geoduck seed from hatcheries elsewhere are grown out to a larger size which allows for a higher survival rate in the upper intertidal areas, further expanding tidelands impacted. The proposed hatchery facility will provide additional seed, currently a constraint to expansion onto undeveloped tidelands, both intertidal and subtidal. Impacts to county infrastructure include heavy truck use of what has been described by a County Commissioner as a "failing bridge" which is the only access to Harstine Island, as well as its roads. The hatchery facility will add to the impact and county maintenance expense.

Expanding Shellfish Nurseries in Marinas
In addition to the facilities owned by Seattle Shellfish and expanding developments on currently undeveloped tidelands is the recent permit application by Chelsea Farms, operator of the subtidal Detienne farm, for a commercial nursery at the only public marina in Oakland Bay. In their permit application it was noted how allowing for the commercial expansion of nurseries could potentially increase seed availability 10 fold. Following the permit request the City of Shelton submitted an amendment to the already drafted Shoreline Master Program to allow up to 10 of the boathouses to be converted from public use to commercial shellfish nurseries. Other conversions are proposed throughout Puget Sound. The loss of slips to moor boats provides minimal public benefit.

Conversion of a public marina
to commercial shellfish nurseries.

Funding for Expanding Shellfish Operations
With the expansion of shellfish operations also comes expenditures of state revenues, county revenues, and private landowners to help support the industry. In order for shellfish to grow there is a need for clean water. Water quality testing throughout Puget Sound is paid for by the Department of Health. County personnel inspect suspected upland areas where problems may exist. Farms pay for fencing to keep cattle out of streams and private land owners in Thurston County are required to pay an annual fee if they own a septic system. While all help to ensure state waters are kept clean, the financial benefactor is the shellfish industry who pays minimal taxes, property or otherwise, and whose jobs created are filled for the most part by underpaid migrant workers.

Small Studies Cannot be used to determine Large Impacts
Pierce County is correct in having a concern of using isolated studies of small farm activities to determine whether new applications for larger farms should be approved or not. While one cottage on a shoreline may have minimal impact, it does not mean a 5 story condominium will have minimal impact nor that a 100 room hotel will have a minimal impact. Each level brings with it a set of incrementally larger actions with both direct and indirect impacts. That is the stage where the shellfish industry is now, whose incremental impacts have not, as a whole, been considered.

Pacific Seafood Processing 
Facility in Warrenton Burns Down

Coast Seafood was recently acquired
by Pacific Seafood which includes a
50% ownership of Penn Cove Shellfish.

Industrial Level of Activity Requires an EIS
The shellfish industry is no longer a group of small families operating on discrete tideland parcels. The industry is becoming controlled by a few large corporations. As seen in the Coast acquisition, consolidation of operations and ownership is occurring, creating a level of industrial activity which small studies of family owned farms cannot replicate.

Let your political representatives know it is time to ensure the state's "most valuable and fragile" natural resource is protected through requiring an Environmental Impact Statement which has an inclusive Cumulative Impacts Analysis.

Governor Inslee: https://fortress.wa.gov/es/governor/
State Legislator: http://app.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/
Senators: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm?State=WA
Representatives: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/#listrep

Read more on Cumulative Impacts Analysis:
EPA's Consideration of Cumulative Impacts in EPA Review of NEPA Documents
Council on Environmental Quality's Considering Cumulative EffectsUnder the National Environmental Policy Act
"Evidence is increasing that the most devastating environmental effects may result not from the direct effects of a particular action, but from the combination of individually minor effects of multiple actions over time." (Chapter 1, Introduction to Cumulative Effects Analysis)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Drakes Bay Oyster Company is in Crisis Management Mode

Sam Singer: "The Fixer"
Founder and CEO of 
Drakes Bay Oyster Company is in crisis control mode, enlisting Singer Associates to help put a new frame around an old picture. DBOC's "free" legal advice from Cause of Action ended when COA demanded Public Broadcast Service's NewsHour turn over all video tapes used in their article on DBOC. It resulted in a public relations nightmare which shattered the relationship between DBOC and COA like a shotgun blast hitting a skeet. Drakes Bay Oyster Company has begun to understand that nothing is free and there are multiple agendas at play, many of which see DBOC as a simple pawn in a larger game, upon which the tar of right wing conservatism has been spread and it doesn't know how to get it off.

PCSGA Attorney
Newly hired California 
attorney at Plauche & Carr
(created through representing
the needs and wants
of the shellfish industry)

In the shifting tides of aliances for DBOC the Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association has also distanced themselves from DBOC. In their latest "Complaint about Information Quality" (signed by newly hired California attorney Robert Smith, previously with Jenkins and Hogin) they claim their new complaint is not "moot" as their 2007 "Complaint" was found to be, and as was Cause of Action's most recent "Complaint."

In PCSGA's new "Complaint" they acknowledge the "Secretary of the Interior decided to not renew DBOC's lease as a matter of discretion" and that "...the Secretary did not rely on the EIS in making his decision..." Instead of "jobs" or the "Lunny family" PCSGA's concern is the shellfish industry's actions have been found to have adverse impacts which outweigh benefits. Their concern is the environmental impacts will "be cited in review of other shellfish proposals throughout the country, thereby harming the PCSGA and its members."
        Bag of Clams
       in dirty water.                                          Clean water.
"Proof" that a bag of clams                       "Proof" water is clean 
in an aquarium filters water                       if you don't pollute it.
which pollutants were added to.

They should be concerned. Constant repetition of "filter feeders" and "nitrogen removal" will not make an insignificant role any more significant. There is no problem with Drakes Estero's waters, nor will there be if DBOC oysters are removed. Even if there were some problem it is not something which will be managed by shellfish. As seen in virtually every healthy body of fresh water throughout the world, oysters have nothing to do with it. Controlling what enters the waters is what matters. As Dr. Land with the University of Texas, Austin, noted so clearly, "Pollution must be stopped. Sopping up never works."

Singer in Action
Today's online Wall Street Journal brackets a public relations "creation" on Drakes Bay Oyster Company with this line at the top and the bottom:
The Wall Street Journal news department was not involved in the creation of this content.
At the bottom, just above the second disclaimer of the "...not involved in the creation of this content" is the contact information: Sam Singer, 415-336-4949 (Cell) In short, what is passed on as "news" is nothing more than an office press release from Singer and Associates, picked up through nothing more than "chummy relations" (see below).

Reuters pr creation on the same topic from Singer and Associates was more to the point: "Reuters is not responsible for the content in this press release." Is this really news reporting or "chummy relations", similar to Dr. Goodman's Marin Media Institute's ownership of Point Reyes Light?

Terrorists attack Foie Gras, Treasure Island Becomes Developed (maybe), and Americas Cup is "Foiled"
Mr. Singer's efforts have included  developing a communication plan to "battle a terrorist attack on producers of foie gras", to have been on the communication team for "some of the largest real estate and transportation development projects in California, including the redevelopment of Treasure Island", and trying to explain why the America's Cup is looming as a financial disaster. Can he make this open oyster on the shelf of a grocery store edible? Not likely.

"I've got friends in high places."
Part of his attraction to those "...who apparently don't feel capable of dealing with the media themselves" is "because of the chummy relations he has cultivated with reporters and columnists at the city's major news outlets" (SFGate, January 7, 2008).  This apparently includes the Wall Street Journal, owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation which also owns Fox News.

Rupert Murdoch
Owner of News Corp.

Mr. Singer has a lot to "fix" with Drakes Bay Oyster Company. The shattered shards of skeet spread on the tidelands of Drakes Estero through the shotgun approach of past decisions speaks for itself. The conservative tar which has been spread on DBOC in its attempt to usurp the Congressional declaration that Drakes Estero will become a wilderness when DBOC ceases operation will not wash off. Mr. Singer's best plan of action is to try and get those shards stuck onto DBOC's layer of tar, put it out to pasture, and let PCSGA attorneys discover - once again - its complaint is a moot point.

Monday, June 3, 2013

June 3, 6PM: City of Shelton to Repeal Old SMP and Adopt New SMP

June 3 at 6PM the City of Shelton will repeal its old Shoreline Master Program (SMP) and adopt the new SMP. Included will be an amendment allowing for conversion of up to 10 boathouses in the Oakland Bay Marina to shellfish nurseries where shellfish (oysters, clams) will be grown out to a larger size before being spread throughout Puget Sound.

The meeting will be held at the Shelton Civic Center, 525 West Cota Street, Shelton.