Our mission is to protect the habitat of Puget Sound tidelands from the underregulated expansion of new and intensive shellfish aquaculture methods. These methods were never anticipated when the Shoreline Management Act was passed. They are transforming the natural tideland ecosystems in Puget Sound and are resulting in a fractured shoreline habitat. In South Puget Sound much of this has been done with few if any meaningful shoreline permits and with limited public input. It is exactly what the Shoreline Management Act was intended to prevent.

Get involved and contact your elected officials to let them you do not support aquaculture's industrial transformation of Puget Sound's tidelands.

Governor Inslee:

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Vibrio Update: DOH Reacts and Notifies Shellfish Growers of Risk to Consumers

"At 80 degrees, Vibrio bacteria double within one hour."
(Department of Health)
The morning of April 30th DOH reacted and warned shellfish growers of the increased risk to consumers from the naturally occurring bacteria, Vibrio parahaemolyticus (Vp), which mid-day minus tides and unseasonably high temperatures brings. Today, Shelton's day time high temperature is forecast to be 80 degrees. The May 1 high is forecast to be 82 degrees.
April 30 Temperature/Tide 
(Taylor Shellfish oysters are grown
between -1 and +4)
May 1 Temperature/Tide

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Vibrio: Minus Tides and Warm Temperatures Increase Risks of Contracting Vibriosis from Washington Oysters


Department of Health Issues Notice to Growers
Warning of the Vibrio Season
Minus Tides and Unseasonably Warm Temperatures
Increase the Risk
Relative increase of Vibriosis (top line)
Center for Disease Control
DOH reminds shellfish growers of consumers contracting vibriosis from shellfish
In response to the continuing increase in vibriosis contracted from consumption of raw oysters harvested from Puget Sound, Washington's Department of Health (DOH) has reminded shellfish growers about the Vibrio parahaemolyticus (Vp) control plan taking effect May 1. Puget Sound growers are required to follow strict guidelines on time allowed to cool shellfish to 50 degrees after harvest. Times range from 12 hours in May to 4 hours in July and August. Despite similar plans existing in all states vibriosis from oysters harvested in the United States continues to increase.
Growing areas in south Puget Sound
closed in 2013 from vibriosis
Virulent Pacific Northwest strain now found on the East Coast
The sharpest rise of vibriosis occurred on the East Coast where what is described as the "Pacific Northwest" strain of Vibrio parahaemolyticus (Vp) is felt to have become endemic, as it is in Puget Sound. Vibriosis from this strain of Vp was not found in shellfish outside of the northwest where Vp occurs naturally. Then, in 2012, outbreaks traced to shellfish from large areas of the East Coast occurred. Vibriosis from this virulent northwest strain of Vp traced to shellfish from the East Coast continues to climb, as it has been from shellfish harvested in Puget Sound  (see the Center for Disease Control article here).
Extra precaution: Average temperatures and average tides don't always fit the formula
Not mentioned by DOH is the first few days of May, 2014, bring with it minus mid-day tides and unseasonably warm weather, peaking at 85 degrees on May 1. As seen in the table below, normal temperatures for the first week in May average in the mid-sixties. The upcoming forecast notes day time temperatures climbing into the mid-80's on Thursday, May 1, when at 2PM the tide in south Puget Sound will reach its low of -1.6 (see "May 2014 Tide Table" below). This will leave oysters exposed to the unseasonably warm temperature for over four hours.
Average Temperatures: ~65 degrees
Forecast Highs for Shelton:
April 30, 81 degrees; May 1, 85 degrees
May 2014 Tide Table
Time for post harvest processing?
The shellfish industry has for years been trying to control the outbreaks of vibriosis traced to shellfish harvested during the warm summer months. A few years ago the FDA proposed shellfish be processed immediately after harvesting (e.g., cold shock, hydrostatic high-pressure, irradiation). An intense lobbying effort by the shellfish industry pushed back the effort leaving it up to the industry to handle, as they have been for years. During that time vibriosis from the consumption of raw oysters has continued to climb. (read article on PHP here)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Mason County to Geoduck Farmers: No Permits Nor Exemptions Needed

Is a tideland re-appraisal being considered?
While Mason County works on updating its Shoreline Master Program it has decided the current SMP does not require permits.

Mason County has sent letters to a number of geoduck farmers notifying them neither permits nor exemptions are needed for proposed geoduck farms. Whether the Department of Ecology or the Army Corps will authorize activity is unknown. What is known is the supply of geoduck to a limited market continues to increase, putting the pricing structure at further risk of collapse.

Examples of what has been noted as being sent:

February 6, for tidelands owned by the McDermid family: Letter sent to Taylor Shellfish. Planning Dept has determined shoreline permit is not required for proposed geoduck aquaculture.

April 24, for adjacent tidelands owned by the Yates and Millers: Authorization Letter issued for geoduck farm because it does not require a shoreline permit or a shoreline exemption. Project Name: Trident (Yates/Miller) Geoduck Farm. Parcel Numbers: 12131-22-00020 (Yates) and 12131-22-70010 (Miller). Letter sent 4/24/14. Copies sent to both parcel files.

April 24, for adjacent tidelands owned by the Butlers and Crosby's: Authorization Letter issued for geoduck farm because it does not require a shoreline permit or shoreline exemption. Project Name: Trident (Butler/Crosby) Geoduck Farm. PN 22127-23-00060 (Butler), 22127-23-00000 (Butler), 22127-23-00030 (Crosby). Letter sent 4/24/14. Copies sent to all 3 parcel files.

April 23, for adjacent tidelands owned by the Colello and Justis families: Letter of Approval sent on 4/23/14 approving proposal without need for exemption or shoreline permit. Copies sent to each parcel file: 22021-50-00036 (Colello) and 22021-50-00915 (Justis). This was indicated as "Site 1" by consultant.

April 24, for tidelands owned by the Vanderberg family: Letter of Approval sent on 4/24/14 approving proposal without need for exemption or shoreline permit. Copy sent to parcel file PN 22021-50-90031. This was indicated as "Site 3" by consultant within BE.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

To Drakes Bay Oyster Company: Is this really who you want to include in your circle of friends?

"I wouldn't consider myself a liberal,
all my friends are." Kevin Lunny, April 19

Most likely your friends also
believe we live in a land of law.
Mr. Lunny's belief in the court of law
Kevin Lunny was recently interviewed by KSCO's Michael Zwerling ("MZ") about the pending court decision on whether the California Coastal Commission (CCC) may enforce the Coastal Act's regulations. He has every right to challenge the CCC's decision in court, just as he has every right to challenge the Department of Interior's decision to not renew his lease in court. While both agency decisions are being challenged in court, Mr. Lunny has been allowed to continue his commercial operation in Drakes Estero, part of the Philip Burton Wilderness Area.

In the interview with "MZ" the Bundy family's trespass on public lands in Nevada was brought up by a number of callers. Those callers presented a very different way of dealing with agency decisions. A way which Mr. Lunny's friends may not agree with.

Mr. Bundy's belief in entitlement
For those unfamiliar with Mr. Bundy, he believes he is entitled to graze his cattle on public lands without paying fees to the owner/manager of those lands, the Bureau of Land Management. It is a belief the courts have told him is incorrect. His refusal to remove those cattle from the public lands resulted in an escalation of actions and emotions to the point of armed militia showing up on horseback. The Bureau of Land Management chose to not put people in harm's way and told their employees to leave the area. Mr. Bundy continues to believe in his entitlement and grazes his cattle on public land without paying fees as other ranchers do, including those on Point Reyes.

Callers' beliefs in the "court of guns"
A number of callers suggested directly that this was how Mr. Lunny should handle his challenges with the Coastal Commission and the National Park Service. Callers hoping people would "arm up," another wishing things were not done "peacefully" any longer, and that "guns were not for hunting" were reflective of numerous comments which "MZ" allowed to go on the air unchallenged. Mr. Lunny also chose to allow the comments go unchallenged.

Mr. Lunny's choice of friends
Mr. Lunny and his family have chosen to allow the courts to make the decision on whether the commercial shellfish operation will be allowed to continue operating in the Philip Burton Wilderness Area. They should carefully think through whether they wish to expand their friendship circle to include those who feel the threat of armed violence is how a decision should be made in a land of law.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Senator Roach and the Shoreline Management Act Workshop - Politics can be Messy

[Update 4/23: Is Ecology getting "roached"?
Time changes - in 2010 many things happened, some which people regret.
Freedom Foundation emails - Are emails over 3 years old reflective of the current situation? Are emails from a Director who is no longer with the agency meaningful? These are the emails which David Morgan with the conservative Freedom Foundation waved before Senator Pam Roach's Shoreline Mannagement Act workshop and which he said would be put up on his group's site, which he has now done.
The emails are available here:
11/3/2010 email from then Director Sturdevant  on the EPA being prevented from acting on greenhouse gasses. His one word response leaves little doubt of how he feels.
2/25/2010 email from then Director Sturdevant on the conservative "free-market solutions" Washington Policy Center complaining about a proposed tax on hazardous materials.
4/1/2010 email from Erik Stockdale, employee with DOE, suggesting an email string be deleted. The email (also waved about in 2012 by the conservative Trojan Heron group) discussed how to address what Ecology felt were misleading or untrue statements made by Dr. Ken Brooks. It is presumably the same Ken Brooks hired by Taylor Shellfish to support their 58 raft mussel farm.
4/22/2011 email from Bill Moore, employee with DOE, responding to concerns initiated by Asotin County employees stating to be aware that "emotions may be running a little high tonight" by saying the mediator kept the rable [sic] "in line." He did not mention who the "rable" were.
7/19/2012 email from then Director Sturdevant commenting on a NY Times article about how a local "Tea Party Patriots" group had stalled implementation of the February 2010 agreement on restoring the Klamath River, something agreed to by a diverse group of stakeholders, including the Klamath, Yurok and Karuk Tribes, as well the states of California and Oregon. Ironically, that agreement was  signed April 18 of this year
September 2012 manual on how to best present the issues of the Shoreline Management Act.  Mr. Morgan claims says officials should appeal to "fear." In fact, the use of the word "fear" is in describing a conservative group's perception of land use regulations.
"These opposition blogs reflect both confusion...as well as alarm, fear and anger at 'new' land use regulation."
Are these emails important? Mr. Morgan certainly believes they are. Senator Roach believes Mr. Stockdale's four year old 2010 email which he suggested then be deleted is "a scary thought." By coincidence, 2010 was also the year in which Senator Roach was expelled from the private GOP caucus meetings for, in part, what was described as staff getting "Roached." ]
[Update 4/22: Comment for shellfish attorney Denike to consider.
In his presentation to the Senators and Council members Mr. Denike feigns concern for the amount of seafood which is imported to the USA. If, in fact, it is such a concern, he might consider speaking to his clients to suggest the following:
1. Stop exporting geoduck and oysters to China (Taylor Shellfish by itself exports up to 10,000 dozen oysters/month and >40,000 pounds of geoduck/month to China alone); 
2. Require that DNR not export geoduck harvested from state tidelands as they do with timber (~4 million pounds per year from state tidelands alone are exported);
3. Require re-planting the vast subtidal tracts which are harvested each year instead of waiting 40 years for natural re-seeding to take place; and,
4. Stop lobbying the European Union to open their markets to shellfish exports from the USA.]

Shoreline Management Act Workshop
Politics is messy, sometimes more so than others.
Put the shellfish growers' attorney on-stage
and give him as much time to speak as needed.
Everyone else gets to sit in the audience
and be limited to 2 minutes.

Shellfish attorney is invited to speak:
Gordon White with the Deparatment of Ecology - A tough presentation with tougher questions.
Jesse Denike, attorney for the Pacific Shellfish Growers Association - You have as much time to present your problems and we won't question you.
Audience members, you have 2 minutes:
Laura Hendricks with Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat - responds to the shellfish industry being allowed to sit on the stage and the industry in general.
Jerry Johannes with Friends from Anderson Island speaks about property values being decreased from aquaculture activities and the efforts by the shellfish industry to minimize oversight.
Special time allowance:
If you are from the conservative Freedom Foundation, then you can have 8 minutes, part of which includes Senator Roach leading Mr. Morgan to answers she wants to hear.
(Note: Mr. Morgan was to have put his "emails" from DOE on his web site, but as of 4/21 they are not to be found.)
Senator Roach sets up a workshop - DOE and the shellfish grower's attorney are asked to make their presentations and sit on stage

After hearing of the intense concerns about Pierce County's Shoreline Master Program, a workshop was set up and hosted by Senator Pam Roach to hear concerns about the Shoreline Management Act and property rights.  She was joined by her son, Pierce County Council member Dan Roach and council members McDonald and Jim McCune. In addition,  Senator Doug Erickson, Senator Bruce Danmeier, Senator Jan Angel, Senator Hunt, and Senator Bob Hasegawa were also present.

Included as part of the formal agenda was Gordon White with the Department of Ecology. There he defined the role of Ecology as being one of helping the local governments responsible for creating their local Shoreline Master Programs. He was asked to define buffers and setbacks to which he responded the purpose of each but noted it was the local government who set the specific numbers. After Mr. White's presentation and responses to questions, shellfish attorney Jesse Denike was allowed to speak. He was not questioned.

Ecology's Mr. White may have wished for another venue
While Mr. White was presenting the history and logic behind buffers and setbacks Senator Roach pulled out a poster board to show how many fish were in Lake Taps. She asked, numerous times, what the rules were to determine the specific setbacks. Mr. White pointed out that each local jurisdiction was allowed to determine those distances, based on how the shorelines were assessed. So doing helped determine how far back the setbacks should be. Senator Roach was persistent in wanting to know what "manual" was used. Mr. White noted Ecology's expertise in a number of fields, but Senator Roach, not hearing of a clear "ruler" or "bible" was left unsatisfied. An alternative she presented was to be given the least possible distance which would be acceptable so a local agency could just set it there, or further back if they desired.

Council member Dan Roach furthered his mother's discussion by asking why different areas had different setbacks or buffers. Mr. White noted again there was no one rule and it was dependent on the local conditions which was supported through the local assessments and local negotiations. Mr. Roach asked if that were the case then how could Pierce County lower a setback for Spanaway Lake, or more specifically, how could Pierce County get what they wanted? Senator Roach then inserted herself noting that she did not believe they were getting straight answers and it was just subjective.

Senator Erickson next began a series of questions on buffers and setbacks. What he was interested in knowing was whether it was becoming more difficult to determine what service a buffer or setback should provide. Mr. White, again, noted it really depended on the local conditions. Senator Erickson wrapped up his questioning by asking whether Ecology and local governments met to discuss how to determine what the setback or buffers should be, which Mr. White confirmed.

Senator Roach ended Mr. White's questioning by asking him, of the 100 SMA already adopted, how many were accepted on the first drafts. He was unable to answer but assured those present he would be sure to get back to them. She also pointed out that she felt he was unaware of how people really felt, apparently because the local officials were unable to express those feelings, whatever they may be. Mr. Morgan with the Freedom Foundation had not problem speculating that the answer was every one of them was perceived by local citizens as having major problems. He didn't say what science he used to make that determination.

Shellfish attorney Jesse Denike - we don't like permits
After Mr. White, shellfish attorney Jesse Denike was allowed to speak. Mr. Denike  praised the Shoreline Management Act for its protection of the resource his industry uses to generate profits - the tidelands and waters which flow over them. His complaints focused on how long it takes to obtain permits. Apparently lost on Mr. Denike is that the industry's use of PVC pipes, plastic grow-out bags, and predator netting are more transformative than methods used when the SMA was originally passed. In fact, it has become exactly what the SMA was focused on: preventing the fragmentation of the state's most valuable resource.

Names and emails to be sent out, select council members to meet with Ecology and citizens
The workshop was brought to a close by Senator Roach promising to send names and email addresses to everyone so they could use them to organize themselves for the future. Senator Roach was also able to press Mr. White with Ecology to agree to meet with a few select council members and citizens to hear what they have to say. Politics can be messy.

Pierce County Issues Mitigated Determination of Non-Significance for Seattle Shellfish/Taylor Shellfish Geoduck Farm

[Update 4/23: Ms. Meaders no longer works for Environ. She is currently employed by Confluence Environmental Company.]
>11 Acre "Haley" Geoduck Farm
SEPA Determination is Issued
Comments Due April 29th
Staff Contact: Ty Booth - tbooth@co.pierce.wa.us Phone - 253-798-3727
Director: Dennis Hanberg - dhanber@co.pierce.wa.us
(If affirmed or modified: Appeal Date - May 13th)
Location of proposed farm
"Mitigated" Determination of Non-Significance issued (MDNS)

Pierce County's planning department has issued a MDNS for an 11 acre geoduck farm proposed by a partnership between Seattle Shellfish and Taylor Shellfish. This partnership of the two largest intertidal geoduck farmers leaves little doubt of whether the current industry is controlled by a few companies. The minimal conditions contained within the SEPA determination leave little doubt of their influence.
>11 Acres of netting and tubes
Let industry set the conditions and manage oversight
The first "condition" contained in the SEPA determination allows the industry to determine its own oversight based on whatever they determine is the "most current version" of their own "Environmental Codes of Practice." Nothing in the conditions requires anything currently contained in their ECOP to be a condition of the permit. Should the industry decide they have "practices" which are too restrictive they may simply re-draft their ECOPs. 
Predator netting over tubes.
MDNS would allow up to 11 acres.
After tube removal netting is replaced.
Predator netting may remain for as long as industry wants, covering as much as industry wants
Condition 5 notes netting may remain in place for as long as geoduck are "vulnerable." Nothing requires netting to be removed at any time nor is there any limit to how many contiguous acres may be covered at any one time. In an October 1, 2013 letter to Ms. Meaders, then with Environ the Pierce County biologist expressed concerns about the fact that 11 acres will be covered by canopy netting. In the letter it is noted:
The Haley project is not proposing individual nets and considerably more than one acre will be netted at any one time. As such, based on the information available to us we can’t agree with the BE that the potential for the impacts discussed are insignificant. Please address this concern in a revised BE or stand-alone letter. [It is unknown what, if anything, was submitted to Pierce County to address this concern. Nothing in the SEPA determination requires limited planting.] 
Cumulative impacts, local: Proposed DNR leases and subtidal geoduck
The MDNS does not mention DNR has proposed leasing intertidal areas to the south nor does it fully consider the subtidal geoduck tract adjacent to the proposed farm. While only probabilities, activities in all areas create a far larger action area where harvesting may occur simultaneously. [For an idea of what dive harvesting and subtidal harvesting activities result in, see this Youtube video.] Nothing in the conditions limits when harvesting activities may occur, creating the possibility of a large simultaneous harvesting event which has never been considered nor its impacts studied.

Seattle Shellfish proposed hatchery on
Harstine Island, west of proposed farm.

Cumulative impacts, Mason County proposals
Adding to the cumulative impacts and not considered is the recent permit application from Seattle Shellfish in Mason County for their new upland shellfish hatchery and recent 19 acre lease of tidelands from Mason County. The hatchery, located directly west from the proposed farm is intended to increase the amount of seed available to the geoduck industry, and perhaps give Seattle Shellfish the opportunity to become less dependent on other seed suppliers (although partnering with Taylor Shellfish puts this in question). The recent 19 acre parcel between McMicken Island State Park and Harstine Island leased by Seattle Shellfish, is south west only 3 miles. Currently geoduck farming in Mason County is basically unregulated by the County, its being considered "aquaculture."

Fishtrap Loop in Thurston County
Taylor Shellfish Leases and Surveys
for future geoduck farms.

Cumulative impacts, Thurston County proposals
To the south in Thurston County, Taylor Shellfish has been active in permit applications for new geoduck farms and in surveying and leasing activities for future permit applications. Fishtrap Loop has seen a number of leases signed and surveys plotting out tidelands to plant. The Lockhart parcel to the east was recently approved, along with the Thiesen parcel (applied for by Arcadia Point Seafoods).
Sand Dollars - Just another "pest" 

Freedom to plant wherever needed without worry of native species
Also contained in the October 1 letter to Environ were concerns Pierce County's biologist had about moving native species, some considered little more than "pests" by the industry. [click here for a current industry "pest" document] Specifically mentioned in the letter were tube worms and sand dollars. In spite of the biologist stating his "expectation" would be no planting in areas of native species which could not be moved, there is nothing to prevent it nor anything on how species should be moved and/or replanted.

From our review of the site, and from previous projects, it appears unlikely that there will be any need to move things around, but with that said, if there is some area of sand dollars or tube worms or some other natural feature that can’t be planted around or relocated, the expectation is that you will simply not plant that area.

"Financial guarantees" are only good
if you're still in business.
Financial guarantees should the market collapse 
A minor plus in the MDNS is the requirement for a "financial guarantee" of $1/tube should the geoduck market collapse and industry participants find it is not financially worth their while to remove the tubes and netting. Unfortunately, a "financial guarantee" will mean little if a company has gone bankrupt.
Comments on cumulative impacts are important
As anyone involved in the oversight of the geoduck industry has seen, a favorite tactic of the shellfish attorneys at permit hearings is to state "a SEPA determination was made and was not appealed." It is a critical step in assuring Puget Sound's shorelines are protected as the Shoreline Management Act intended. Waiting to rely on the Shorelines Hearings Board to determine whether additional conditions should be required is a risk which in the past has, for the most part, resulted in decisions in favor of this growing and invasive industry. Commenting on weaknesses in a SEPA determination helps ensure adequate protections are in place.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Mason County Lease With Seattle Shellfish: You Don't Always Get What you Want

 "We'll do our best to make sure Mason County
 is compensated more than adequately."
Ex-commissioner Steve Bloomfiled
It just may be less than what you've been told.
19 acre parcel leased to Seattle Shellfish
hard pan, Subtidal, unknown
(map from Department of Natural Resources)
"It's just an estimate..."As reported by Mason WebTV, the Mason County commissioners recently leased 19 acres of tidelands to Seattle Shellfish for geoduck production. At the meeting, Commissioner Jeffreys again stated the estimate of $3 million every 6 years to justify leasing some of the few public tidelands available in south Puget Sound. She was clearly wise to now emphasize it was "just an estimate".
...based on something we don't know.
At that same meeting Steve Bloomfield, past County Commissioner and employee of Seattle Shellfish, began to put that number into question. Mason WebTV records him beginning to backfill the number of acres available for production. He noted that some of the tidelands were "hard pan", some were useable, and some he was not so sure about. Based on the Department of Natural Resource's map it may be far less than anyone expected.

$1.5 million is almost $3 million isn't it?
As seen in the image above, of the 19 acres which the county owns, approximately 50% of it is subtidal. Because those acres were never cultivated they cannot be cultivated now, leaving perhaps 10 acres available for planting. As Mr. Bloomfield pointed out, some of that is "hard pan" and not useable. Optimistically, if 8 acres are able to be planted, Commissioner Jeffreys' $3 million estimate suddenly deflates to a number most likely closer to $1.5 million (assuming 44,000 2 pound geoduck per acre are harvested and sold at $15/pound).
Who gets to clean up?
Geoducks, internet stocks and tulips - speculative markets always collapse. This time it's not different.
The promise of "getting rich" from geoducks has already been put in question after China banned their import from the United States, a ban still in effect. The revenues generated have attracted attention from around the world, increasing supply to a limited demand. New Zealand is testing direct marketing of geoduck to China. Canada is proposing opening its entire western coast to harvesting and cultivating geoduck, detailed in its Integrated Geoduck Management Framework plan (comments are due April 19). Locally, Tribal entities and others are questioning why the vast subtidal tracts harvested by the state are not being replanted as state forest lands are. Geoduck growers are attempting to lock up tideland leases for decades - 32 years in the case of Mason County - through leases which hold them responsible for little should they go out of business.

But you promised me...
It is not sustainable, and as Mason County is finding out, after signing, "the promise" is deflating before its eyes. Private tideland owners and those involved in financing the geoduck industry are wise to question just who "...is being compensated more than adequately." And who will pay to clean up the mess.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Drakes Bay Oyster Company: Nitrogen Removal by Oysters Insignificant

[Update 4/17: "Not So Fast" - More questions about the NOAA/USGS paper on nitrogen removal arise.  Read here]

NOAA Overstates Benefits of Nitrogen Removal
DBOC Overstates Effect of Ceasing Operations 

Delusional beliefs
In an email dated April 16, copied below, University of Texas at Austin's Professor Emeritus Lynton S. Land questions the recent article published by NOAA and whether removal of nitrogen by oysters from the Potomac River estuary is significant. The article is currently being promoted by Drakes Bay Oyster Company supporters to support the continued commercial operation in Drakes Estero, part of the Philip Burton Wilderness Area. Professor Land describes the belief that oysters will significantly improve the water quality of the Potomac River estuary as a delusion. Bob Rheault with the East Coast Shellfish Growers Association calls his belief valid.

Sop-up up strategies do not work - control the upland source
Professor Land goes on to note the only effective way to control nitrogen input into the Potomac River is by controlling upland inputs. He states "sop-up  strategies are never effective." He suggests a more effective means is controlling crop fertilization through the use of slow release nitrogen fertilizer and banning the on ground application of poultry litter and manure.

Drakes Estero does not benefit from the continued operation
Of significance for DBOC supporters is to remember that Drakes Estero is not the Potomac River. Agriculture on the surrounding uplands is minimal. Ranching activities are well controlled and have little impact. In a 2007 paper by Corey Goodman, he summarized the impacts on Drakes Estero this way:
The Anima (1991) study shows no impact of the ranches on the sediments, herbicides, pesticides, or nutrients in Drake’s Estero. The Wechsler masters thesis shows no major impact of the oyster farm on the fish communities. The Elliott-Fisk et al. (2005) study shows no impact of the oyster farm on the sediments or the eelgrass in Drake’s Estero.

Aquaculture disruption is not restoration of a wilderness area
The question left for supporters on both sides of the issue is whether ceasing commercial operations will have a long term impact on the Philip Burton Wilderness Area. Removal of pressure treated racks, plastic tubes and grow out bags will have a one time impact of short duration on Drakes Estero. Ceasing the disruption to the ecosystem which harvesting activities create will be long term.
Professor Land's Email
The NOAA & USGS study proposing that more oysters can significantly improve Potomac River estuary water quality is unrealistic. A 1946 paper states “...in the late 1800’s it [the oyster harvest] averaged approximately 1,600,000 bushels." Given 300 market-sized oysters per bushel, for few years, 480 million oysters were harvested annually. Then the harvest crashed and in recent years it has rarely exceeded 5,000 bushels. We can never restore the ecosystem to its condition in the late 1800’s. Given urbanization and chemically fertilized fields and lawns we can never return to late 1800’s nutrient levels.
One million market-sized oysters contain at most 150 kilograms of nitrogen (N), with sub-equal amounts in the shell and dry tissue. Even if we could harvest 480 million oysters again, only 72,000 kg of N would be removed (150 kg N/ million oysters * 480 million oysters). Today, the Potomac River receives about 30 million kilograms of N each year. So the maximum oyster harvest ever recorded could only remove 0.2% of today’s N load (72,000 / 30,000,000). Meaningless! If we take into account N removal from the ecosystem by denitrification and sediment burial, about the same amount of N is removed from the ecosystem as by harvesting the oysters. But if oyster shells are returned to the water to serve as a substrate for more oyster strike, as they certainly should, the N in the shell is not removed from the ecosystem. The required annual harvest remains preposterous. 
The authors of the study state “There is increasing recognition, however, that returns on investment in both point- and nonpoint-source controls are diminishing, that additional management will not lead to significantly greater reduction in nutrient loads….” They are certainly correct for point source discharge from wastewater treatment plants, which has been reduced about as far as can reasonably be expected. But despite all the money that has been spent, Chesapeake Bay water quality has not improved. The reason for this sad fact is that, according to EPA’s final TMDL, agriculture is responsible for more than half of Chesapeake Bay’s N load. Nothing substantive has changed in the way crops are fertilized. Pollution always needs to be reduced at the source and “sop-up” strategies (oysters in this case) are never effective. The authors are incorrect about nonpoint source pollution because they ignore “additional management” by 1) banning the disposal of poultry litter, sewage sludge and manure by land application. This practice causes half of all agricultural pollution, more than is derived from point source discharge from wastewater treatment plants. It could be stopped with the stroke of a pen and the waste used for biofuel, and 2) phasing in controlled (timed-, slow-) release fertilizers to double the efficiency of N uptake by crops from about 65% to at least 80% (it is 30% for sludge).
Grow more oysters for the right reasons – they create habitat for other organisms and make great meals. Delusions about their role in improving water quality merely detract from the only action that will improve Bay water quality, significantly improving crop fertilization efficiency.  Dr. Lynton S. Land, Ophelia VA     www.VaBayBlues.org      April 16, 2014

Bob Rheault with the East Coast Shellfish Growers Association notes:
"His [Professor Land] concerns about the magnitude of that impact [nitrogen removal] are valid"

Monday, April 14, 2014

Drakes Bay Oyster Company: Petition Filed with Supreme Court Riddled with Mis-information

Environmental Action Committee of West Marin responds to the Pacific Legal Foundation's petition filed with the Supreme Court.
Don’t Be Fooled by Drakes Bay Oyster Company’s Supreme Court Petition
By Amy Trainer
The Drakes Bay Oyster Company’s relentless push to overturn the congressional wilderness designation for Drakes Estero got closer to the end of the road today when the company’s army of corporate lawyers filed a petition for review to the U.S. Supreme Court. The millions of advocates for our national parks, wilderness, and coastal protection refuse to let the Koch Brothers-funded Pacific Legal Foundation – the Company’s main proponent - and their public lands exploitation interests destroy Drakes Estero, the ecological heart of the Point Reyes National Seashore.
The Company’s petition is full of false statements of fact and exaggerations. For example, the Company's hyperbole likens restoring Drakes Estero wilderness to blowing up the Hoover Dam. Closing down the Company’s non-native oyster operations in Drakes Estero as long planned will not have an impact on California’s oyster market, as the petition asserts, because the Company only produces 3.5% of the West Coast oysters. Humboldt Bay, the state’s largest oyster growing area produces over 70% of California’s oysters, and is in the process of expanding by 50%. Native oysters were never abundant in Drakes Estero, and the Company’s stubbornly ignoring peer-reviewed science on this issue doesn’t change the facts.
The Company’s petition to the Supreme Court is a last-ditch move full of desperate arguments.  The 9th Circuit Appeals Court found the company unlikely to show that former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar abused his discretion in letting the 40-year oyster lease expire on its own terms. As readers may recall, the Company’s owner, Kevin Lunny, admitted in his federal court declarations that he was given written notice by the Interior Department in 2005 that after November 2012 Drakes Estero would be transitioned to wilderness. This transition follows the clear direction from Congress in 1976 under the Point Reyes Wilderness Act. Mr. Lunny knew the deal when he signed a contract with the Park Service yet now claims otherwise in his Supreme Court petition.
The Company’s petition misrepresents former Interior Secretary Salazar’s decision to let the oyster lease expire as long planned. Salazar’s Nov. 29th 2012 decision memorandum laid out the reasons why he relied on the public policy underlying the 1976 congressional wilderness designation for Drakes Estero. The 9th Circuit Appeals Court correctly noted that a 2009 bill authored by Senator Dianne Feinstein  [Sec. 124] “left him free to consider wilderness values and the competing interests underlying a commercial operation in an area set aside as a natural seashore.” The Company’s petition ignores the clear language of Salazar’s decision memo that indicates the care and thoughtfulness he exercised in weighing these competing values. As Interior Secretary, Salazar was the trustee of America’s public lands and this decision was clearly within his sphere of expertise. To claim Salazar’s decision was “arbitrary and capricious” because the Company disagrees with his discretionary decision shows the arbitrary nature of the Company’s petition.
Further, the Company’s petition misrepresents the strong 9th Circuit Appeals Court ruling and En Banc Rehearing Denial. The 9th Circuit rejected the Company’s “wishful thinking” that the Sec. 124 rider was intended to “make it easy” for Salazar to issue the permit.  The 9th Circuit decision noted that “the Secretary’s incorporation of the policies underlying wilderness legislation, and of Congressional intent as expressed in the House committee report, was a matter of his discretion." The majority opinion found that the dissent’s position was “not supported by the record,” and that the Secretary, “drawing on the agency expertise amassed in the decades since the 1970s, concluded that continued oyster farming was inconsistent with wilderness criteria and the Department’s policies.” 
The inconsistency is readily apparent in the Company’s green-washed “stewardship” of Drakes Estero. The Company conveniently omits any mention of its egregious 8-years-and-counting violations of the California Coastal Act, one of the worst offenders in the Act’s history. Instead of complying with the Coastal Commission’s second enforcement action to reverse environmental damage to the Estero during the Company’s short tenure – a unanimous Cease and Desist Order from February 2013 - the Company instead sued the Commission and has taken no steps toward meaningful compliance. The Company continues to grow invasive Manila clams and foster the spread of a nasty invasive species Didemnum vexillum, known as “marine vomit” which are causing increasing harm to this biologically rich area. Thousands of pieces of the Company’s plastic have polluted beaches all over the National Seashore.
The Company’s petition for review continues to push junk science by its loudest advocate, Dr. Corey Goodman who is a neurobiologist with no experience in marine ecosystems whose complaint attacking the analysis of noise from the Company’s operations was rejected by the Office of the Inspector General. The 2012 IG report concluded that, “We found no evidence, documents, DEIS revisions, or witnesses that supported the complainant's allegations."
The Company’s false claims denying impacts to harbor seals from its operations are similarly specious. An investigation by the federal Marine Mammal Commission concluded “mariculture activities in the estuary do disturb harbor seals.” The Company and its advocates attacked this report.
Then executive director of the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission found that the “majority of analyses” made by the Company’s advocate in attacking the National Park Service’s peer-reviewed research and the Marine Mammal Commission’s report, were based on “fundamental flaws in [Goodman’s] application of the multiple regression model and they invalidate” the results.” This was nothing new, as the Interior Department Solicitor’s March 2011 report noted that the Company's advocate “immediately attached labels of ‘false,’ and ‘misrepresentation’ and ‘misleading’ to every scientific assertion with which [he] disagreed.”
The 2012 National Academy of Sciences Report on the Draft EIS for the oyster operation found that the pro-wilderness “Alternative A” [removing the oyster operation] was by far the environmentally preferable alternative based on the best available peer-reviewed science as compared to Alternatives B, C, and D [the “action” alternatives representing varying levels of oyster production]. The Company’s inexorable attacks using questionable science to challenge the conclusions of the Draft and Final Environmental Impact Statements regarding the appropriate management for Drakes Estero fly in the face of the well-supported conclusion that the “environmentally preferable” alternative is to restore Drakes Estero to wilderness.
Point Reyes National Seashore draws 2.5 million visitors a year and is the major economic engine of western Marin County. This popularity of this human haven is not dependent in the least on the Drakes Bay Oyster Company. The Company bizarrely claims that the Interior Secretary's discretionary decision — authorized by one specific law — to let expire on its own terms one permit, for one company, in one area of one National Seashore somehow constitutes a matter of "exceptional importance.” The Supreme Court would serve the American people well by rejecting this specious petition and returning our only West Coast marine wilderness to all of us and future generations to enjoy.
This op-ed will appear in the East Bay Express this week.

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

Protecting West Marin Since 1971!

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Those who contemplate the beauty of the Earth
find reserves of strength that will endure
as long as life lasts.  ~ Rachel Carson

[4/16 comment update: Jane Gyorgy provided a number of extremely lengthy comments to this post. Those interested in reading what her point of view is may find her blog site here. She also provided 2 identical copies of the NOAA article on oysters and the Potomac River. See the 4/16 post for a response to that article.]

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Mason County Signs 16 Year Lease with Seattle Shellfish for Geoduck Cultivation

"You never know what tomorrow's going to bring."
Past Commissioner Bloomfield, w/Seattle Shellfish
Tidelands Leased by Mason County
to Seattle Shellfish for Geoduck Farming
 McMikken Island State Park on the right
Washington State Parks and Recreation on the left
19 acres leased for 16 years, with an option for another 16 years - acres useable unknown
Mason WebTV has reported the Mason County commissioners have signed a 16 year lease with Seattle Shellfish for a 19 acre tideland parcel between McMikken Island State Park and Harstine Island to grow geoduck on. The lease terms contain an option for an extension of an additional 16 years. The tideland area had been previously used by the public visiting McMikken Island State Park or the adjacent land on Harstine Island owned by the State of Washington Parks and Recreation. It is expected that once Seattle Shellfish begins planting geoduck access to the tidelands will be restricted.

Geoduck Planting with PVC Pipes

Tidelands useable are unknown
At the public hearing, past commissioner Steve Bloomfield with Seattle Shellfish described the tidelands as not all being suitable for geoduck cultivation. He notes some of it as being "hard pan, like this floor," some it as "very good," with the remainder being described as "we don't know yet." He went on to assure the county that whatever was done would be transparent.
Just an estimate - based on?
Commissioner Jeffreys: $3 million plus $1,000/acre planted - based on an unknown
Despite the unknown number of acres which will actually be available for cultivation, and of those what actually gets planted and when, Commissioner Jeffreys announced at the meeting that the county would be receiving an estimated $3 million dollars every 6 years. This figure is based on her describing the lease terms as being $1,000 per acre planted and 15% of the gross proceeds. Given Mr. Bloomfield's being unable to say how many acres actually useable puts in question how she was able to obtain the $3 million "estimate."
Taylor Shellfish's ~15 acre geoduck farm in Hammersley Inlet.
Appraised at $2,035, taxes collected = $21/year

Taxation of tidelands when they are converted to geoduck or shellfish production
As Commissioner Sheldon noted at the meeting, perhaps some tidelands held by Mason County could be leased in order to generate revenue for the county. Perhaps what the commissioners should consider instead is having their assessor value those tidelands put into production of geoduck or shellfish at what their real value is. So doing would most likely generate sums far greater than the currently unknown the county has committed to. Higher property taxes may also bring pause to current tideland owners who believe they will become as wealthy as the current owners of shellfish companies are becoming, at the expense of Puget Sound's tidelands.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Daylight Minus Tides in South Puget Sound Are Arriving - Go See What Only Puget Sound can Provide

There's a whole different world exposed 
when the tide is out which is worth protecting.
Get out to see what is only
visible during the minus tides.
Tide Charts on the Web

The first minus tides of 2014 will be arriving April 16th. The first set of low tides will fall to -1.6 on Friday the 18th at 2:47PM. At the end of April another set of minus tides will begin, also having the lowest at -1.6. There are a number of web sites which provide tidal information which are listed below. Some are able to provide more site specific information, others are more general. All are helpful to know when the lowest tidelands will be exposed, many on the weekends. Get out and experience what only Puget Sound is able to provide - a world in which species have adapted to survive in both water and air.

Dairiki will allow both monthly and daily tide charts. The times are based on Olympia. Oakland Bay (Shelton) is about 1 1/4 hours later (see NOAA site below for site specific information).

Tide Table for April, 2014
Olympia Times
Note: Not for navigation.
(click to enlarge)
Friday April 18, 2014
Deepzoom provides an interactive map of Puget Sound which shows currents and tidal elevations throughout the area. Below is an image from Friday, April 18 showing current flows during the flood tide following the -1.6 earlier in the day. You are able to set a variety of time scales and speeds, as well as zoom in to various locations.

From Deepzoom interactive site.
(click to enlarge)
NOAA provides a third alternative which allows for the choice of a number of stations throughout all of Puget Sound. Below is the April tide chart with the daily graph for each day. Choices allow for daily, weekly or monthly graphing and choice of locations (click on Washington, scroll down to Puget Sound, and make selection).

at Vaughn, Case Inlet
(click to enlarge)