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

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

Governor Inslee:

Friday, December 25, 2015

Just Tell them What they Want to Hear, Agencies Won't do Anything

Who let the dogs out?

A recent Army Corps of Engineer permit condition:
f. You shall not use tidelands waterward from the line of mean higher high water (MHHW)  for the storage of aquaculture gear (e.g., bags, racks, marker stakes, rebar, nets, tubes). All gear that is not immediately needed will be moved to a storage area landward ofMHHW. Note: This is not meant to apply to the wet storage of harvested shellfish.

Whose dog messed up this beach?

Loose nets, loose bags. Who cares?  
This geoduck grower doesn't.

More bags loose in the tidelands.

Loose PVC pipes and bag.


Who cares? The people who found these loose on the tidelands do, not the grower who didn't feel it important enough to pick up the mess. Agencies are being taken for a ride by shellfish growers who profess to be "good stewards" of the tidelands and non-profits who gladly hold out their hands and accept donations. This industry's adverse impact on the tidelands doesn't stop and they want to expand, in the case of Taylor Shellfish, three-fold.

Money, jobs, who could ask for more?

Step down Shoreline Management Act. There's a new driver in town and it's not Washington state's taxpayers.
Who's driving the regulatory environment to protect Puget Sound's intertidal areas? The recent Shoreline Master Program handbook released by the Department of Ecology seems clear: it is no longer the state's Shoreline Management Act which controls development in Puget Sound's tidelands but NOAA's misguided policies to "Encourage and foster sustainable aquaculture development that provides domestic jobs, products, and services and that is in harmony with healthy, productive, and resilient marine ecosystems, compatible with other uses of the marine environment." The handbook goes on to say:
The SMA is one of the enforceable policies of Washington’s Coastal Zone Management Program, which is part of the federal program administered by NOAA. Shoreline Master Programs for jurisdictions along the Pacific coast and Puget Sound are part of the federal program. (p. 4, SMP Handbook)
Street sweepers and tulip bulb harvesters
were not a "preferred use" of Washington's
"most valuable and fragile natural resource."

Washington's SMA is no longer the primary controlling regulatory act protecting Puget Sound's intertidal area. The act, passed by the legislature and approved by an overwhelming majority of Washington's citizens, has been relegated to a second class position when it comes to aquaculture. While aquaculture was considered a "preferred use" when it was passed, it was not the industrial activity found today. It was never intended to be driven by NOAA policies and Washington DC politics.

$70,000 spent on lobbying - in 3 quarters.

If a little money to influence Washington DC is good then more is better. Plauche and Carr: A law firm or a lobbying firm?
There is little doubt this is no longer just a "fifth generation family" growing a few clams and oysters. This is an industry focused on profits and aware that lobbying will craft federal regulations to their benefit. Along the way, Washington's citizens have lost control of what happens to Puget Sound. In the first 3 quarters alone, $70,000 have has been given to the Glover Park lobbying firm  ("Own the Conversation") in Washington DC. As seen in the Disclosure form, these funds are channeled through the shellfish industry's law firm, Plauche and Carr, and focused on influencing a number of agencies, including the Army Corps and NOAA. This is an industry with money and motivation to make more at the expense of Puget Sound's tidelands.

Get involved - the shellfish industry is.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Surfrider Announces Washington Coastal Marine Advisory Council (WCMAC) Meeting this Wednesday (12/9)

“We’re all in this leaky canoe together…”
Washington Policy Manager.)

When: Wednesday, December 9th, 9:30am–3:30pm
Where: Port of Grays Harbor Commissioners Chambers, 111 S. Wooding St. Aberdeen, WA
View Full Agenda: 12 9 15 WCMAC Agenda Draft

Surfrider has announced the Washington Coastal Marine Advisory Council (WCMAC) will hold their next meeting this Wednesday (12/9) in Aberdeen (see here for past meetings, agendas, and meeting notes). Scheduled to speak at 12:30 will be Kim Patten from Willapa Bay.

Native species are a nuisance to non-native
"crops" of Pacific oysters and Manila clams.
Kill the shrimp, create a habitat for 
Japanese eelgrass, kill the eelgrass.

Eco-engineering so non-native species can be grown for profit.
Among the speakers noted on the agenda is Willapa Bay's Kim Patten with Washington State University. He will present his perspectives, and the shellfish industry's, of how to deal with what he and shellfish growers perceive as a problem to the industry and their profits: native ghost shrimp. It was Mr. Patten who was one of the primary driving forces behind the proposal to spray the neurotoxin imidacloprid (one of the neonicotinoid pesticides) on shellfish beds and the herbicide imazamox, currently being sprayed on shellfish beds and eelgrass.

Plastic bags are bad, but this is okay?
What you can do when you "advocate" for clean water.

Plastic bags are bad. But is PVC or mesh nets in the tidelands okay?
Gus Gates, Washington Policy Manager, has written a piece on describing the shellfish industry as being some of the "...strongest advocates for clean water protections.." There is no question the shellfish industry wants to have clean water, which they need in order to maintain and/or grow their profits. But how can Surfrider, in one hand, ban plastic bags, styrofoam, micro-plastics, and be opposed to the oil terminal proposed for Grays Harbor (providing "80-85 permanent, family-wage jobs"), and in the other hand, support an industry who "advocates for clean water protections" which results in their growing widespread use of plastic and PVC in those same marine waters which Surfrider is trying to keep them out of (providing jobs of questionable need, with mechanization likely to reduce whatever jobs those may be)?

Mechanical harvester and the jobs it replaces.

"Mining" for geoduck.

Is it the canary or the mining we should be concerned about?
Mr. Gates is correct in pointing out we are all together in a leaky canoe trying to improve the health of Washington's waters. But make no mistake on why the shellfish industry is such a strong advocate for clean waters and what the result will be. They advocate for clean water to improve production and profits from Puget Sound's tidelands, and along with them, the spread of plastic and PVC used in production, and the transformation of habitat. Noting the industry's analogy of being the "Canary in the Coal Mine" without noting the impacts from mining ignores the important part of that analogy we should worry about.

Get involved. The shellfish industry, advocating for clean water, has behind it their stated plan of "tripling the size in our business over the next 8 years." (Jeff Pearson, thanking Wells Fargo for their providing financing.) Consider what will come with that.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Public Meeting and Shellfish Politics: Coast Seafoods' Operations Manager, also District Commissioner, Sees no Problem Expanding into Eelgrass Beds

Update 11:05: Read what the California Audubon has to say about this project and help ensure this critical eelgrass habitat will not be destroyed through application of faulty science to support the expansion of aquaculture. (Note: Comments will now be accepted through December 31.) Other public comments on this ill-advised expansion may be found by clicking here, some in support, but most against, including 61 pages of names who signed a petition against the proposal. You can add your name and help save Pacific Flyway birds in Humboldt Bay by clicking here.

Coast Seafoods Southwest Operations Manager Greg Dale
who is also the harbor district’s
2nd Division commissioner
said that he does not believe the company’s
current aquacultural practices have any significant
ecological impacts on the bay, and said the expansion was
designed in a way that “literally has no impact.”

What a surprise. Apparently Coast Seafood workers
are able to levitate above eelgrass instead of
crushing it as these workers do.

Coast Seafoods' oysters are also able to
stop filtering when dioxin laced sediments
are stirred up from workers and boats.
The best science that money can buy.
Coast Seafood says spacing lines 5' apart lets in more light, ignoring the impact of foot traffic from workers. Coast Seafood believes oysters will stop filtering as dioxins in the sediments are stirred up by foot traffic and boat activity. This is science?

Get involved. The shellfish industry is and they see nothing but profits from impacting native eelgrass beds and selling you oysters filtering water with dioxin laced sediments.

Public hearing on whether Coast Seafoods should be allowed to expand operations in Humboldt Bay and native eelgrass beds.
What: Coast Seafoods Company’s expansion town hall meeting
When: 6 to 8 p.m., Wednesday
Where: Sequoia Conference Center, Room Sequoia A, 901 Myrtle Ave., Eureka

Public Meeting and Shellfish Politics: Coast Seafoods' Operations Manager, also District Commissioner, Sees no Problem Expanding into Eelgrass Beds

Coast Seafoods Southwest Operations Manager Greg Dale
who is also the harbor district’s
2nd Division commissioner
said that he does not believe the company’s
current aquacultural practices have any significant
ecological impacts on the bay, and said the expansion was
designed in a way that “literally has no impact.”

What a surprise. Apparently Coast Seafood workers
are able to levitate above eelgrass instead of
crushing it as these workers do.

Coast Seafoods' oysters are also able to
stop filtering when dioxin laced sediments
are stirred up from workers and boats.
The best science that money can buy.
Coast Seafood says spacing lines 5' apart lets in more light, ignoring the impact of foot traffic from workers. Coast Seafood believes oysters will stop filtering as dioxins in the sediments are stirred up by foot traffic and boat activity. This is science?
Get involved. The shellfish industry is and they see nothing but profits from impacting native eelgrass beds and selling you oysters filtering water with dioxin laced sediments.
Public hearing on whether Coast Seafoods should be allowed to expand operations in Humboldt Bay and native eelgrass beds.
What: Coast Seafoods Company’s expansion town hall meeting
When: 6 to 8 p.m., Wednesday
Where: Sequoia Conference Center, Room Sequoia A, 901 Myrtle Ave., Eureka

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

WDFW Maps Show Declining Densities and Negative Recovery of State Geoduck Tracts Adjacent to Commercial Farms

“If you cut down a forest, it takes a very long time 
to come back. So you need to be very careful with the harvest rate.”
Bob Sizemore, WDFW

WDFW Map showing plots sampled which have
declining densities and negative recovery
adjacent to commercial intertidal farms.

In "The Poaching of Puget Sound" from OPB's KCTS 9, Robert Sizemore with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife notes concerns over declining densities of wild geoduck in subtidal, publicly owned tracts, previously harvested. Provided by WDFW is a map showing the few plots sampled and those which have "declining densities" and "negative recovery" (tracts in red above). On Harstine Island, where some of the most intensive intertidal geoduck farming is occurring on private tidelands, those wild, subtidal state owned tracts co-managed by WDFW and DNR immediately adjacent to the commercial farms are not recovering as expected. In fact, they are declining in density.

Spencer Cove, Northeast Harstine Island
Intertidal farms/dive harvesting
are circled in red. The inset shows where
Washington's subtidal tract is located.

Wilson Point, Southeast Harstine Island
Private intertidal farms are circled in red. The
inset map shows DNR's subtidal geoduck tract
which is declining in density.

If all those geoduck are spawning why are they declining?
WDFW and DNR should both be concerned over how they are managing these public assets. Is it simple coincidence that some of the largest private farms are immediately adjacent to the tracts not recovering? Unlikely. Adding to why WDFW - and DNR - should be concerned is a recent study published shows the farmed geoduck in these commercial farms reach maturity and begin to spawn at 2 to 3 years of age. Why, if the high density geoduck on intertidal farms (40,000+ per acre) are spawning for a period of 3 to 5 years are subtidal tracts adjacent to them not recovering faster than normal? (see here for study: https://app.box.com/s/8glqtmh1v3vmbynwnzaga8spw7cn0ymc)

Is there a fox in the hen house?
Is poaching by those operating the farms adjacent to the state owned tracts occurring? Or is the commercial farming on private tidelands causing die-offs on subtidal tracts from sediment disruption or plastic pollution or a genetic problem? The answer needs to be found before the wild geoduck reach the same fate as the native Olympia oyster, now near extinction from overzealous shellfish farmers who simply sought a profit at the public's expense.

There's more to managing wild geoduck than
just counting how many are harvested.
As Mr. Sizemore with WDFW is quoted as saying, “If you cut down a forest, it takes a very long time to come back. So you need to be very careful with the harvest rate.” It's why DNR requires replanting of forestland after harvesting. As Commissioner Goldmark begins his campaigning on how he is managing state resources he may want to consider why DNR does not manage its subtidal tidelands like it does its forest land and require replanting of state owned subtidal tracts after geoduck ahve been harvested.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

UW's Climate Impacts Group Releases "State of Knowledge: Climate Change in Puget Sound"

The University of Washington's Climate Impacts Group (CGI) has released their "State of Knowledge: Climate Change in Puget Sound." (29 mb file)

In the report CGI details current projections of how climate change and increasing levels of CO2 may impact Puget Sound. Topics range from how changes to freshwater inflows may impact the circulation of Puget Sound's waters (e.g., salinity, dissolved oxygen) to warming temperatures increasing the risks to human health (e.g., increasing toxicity of diatoms such as Pseudo-nitzschia and increasing harmful algae blooms) to overall ecosystem changes increasing the risks to native species (e.g., introduced non-native species being able to adapt to changes more quickly and displacing the native species).

It is lengthy (over 280 pages) but contains a great deal of information on what changes may be anticipated in the near and distant future.


Thursday, November 12, 2015

Ecology Calls for Comments on Herbicide Application in Washington Waters

I just think this timing table leaves too much wiggle room
 from someone in WDFW to mess with the permit.
Kim Patten, WSU Extension Office, Pacific County
Commenting in 2011 on herbicide application.
(supporter of neurotoxins on shellfish beds)
What's in your shellfish?

Concerned about CO2 and ocean acidification? Not in Willapa Bay.
The Department of Ecology has called for comments on a General Permit covering the application of herbicides in Washington's waters. Included is imazamox, currently being sprayed in Willapa Bay on shellfish beds to kill Japanese eelgrass by shellfish farmers. The same type of aquatic vegetation which was recently found to be "...among the Earth's most efficient and long-term carbon sinks, but coastal development [especially shellfish farming] threatens this capacity." (see "Losses and recovery of organic carbon from a seagrass ecosystem following disturbance" October 21, 2015, in Proceedings of the Royal Society)

See the Draft Permit here
See WDFW timing restrictions here
(Pacific County - Large mouth bass only. Migratory birds? Apparently not important.)
See DOE General Permit site here
See 2011 DOE Response to Comments here (including Mr. Patten's concerns)

Get involved. Unless you don't care about what's in that oyster you're eating.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Senate Considers Eliminating the Need for a Permit to Apply Pesticides on Navigable Waters

Should you need a permit
for the application of pesticides
onto navigable waters?
Protect Our Shoreline's photo.
Some in the Senate believe
"it is a burden."
Some things money can buy.
Politics and pesticide application in US waters: Don't like that you have to get a permit to spray pesticides in US waters? Have Congress pass a bill saying you don't need one.

The Independent Shellfish Growers of Washington (ISGW), an organization based out of Willapa Bay, has released an email asking a bill before the Senate NOT be passed (see below for complete email). Innocently titled as "Sensible Environmental Protection Act of 2015" the bill's purpose is to "...clarify Congressional intent regarding the regulation of the use of pesticides in or near navigable waters, and for other purposes." (see https://www.congress.gov/…/114th-co…/senate-bill/1500/titles) That "intent" would be to eliminate the requirement to obtain a permit for point source application of pesticides into navigable waters.

Some things it cannot.
ISGW has asked for support by signing a petition, asking Senators to NOT pass this bill. There is a great deal of money behind the bill and political support. You can make a difference by signing the petition or by contacting your elected officials and telling them to NOT support S. 1500, no matter what the title.
(Petition located here: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/stand-against-pesticide…)
(Senate contact information may be found here: http://www.senate.gov/…/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm)

Get involved.
Get involved. The waters of the United States and species they support are too important to allow passage of this bill.
Email from ISGW:
Poisons that state,{ Never allow near water } on their label will be used without environmental oversight.
Hi, The Senate committee charged with protecting our environment just passed a bill that would make it a lot easier to spray pesticides in and around our rivers, lakes, and streams. The bill should be called "The Contaminate Waters at Will Act" since it eliminates the need for permitting to spray pesticides into our waterways. The documented health hazards and loss of wildlife attributed to pesticides are the exact reason why businesses and industries are required to obtain permits to spray in and around bodies of water. Please tell your senators to stand against this reckless action now. That's why I signed a petition to The United States Senate. Will you sign this petition??????
                        Click here: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/stand-against-pesticide?source=s.em.mt&r_by=129211 Thanks!
We have apposed the rotten science that is never contested with the real facts to the point of  our members not selling their oysters to the unsuspecting public. We can not make the whole world aware because the big, and sometimes biggest oyster company's are to powerful with the media.I suggest you look up poison oyster or chemicals in Willapa bay Wa. Also google the Bloomberg press article.
Independent Shellfish Growers of Wa. State.

If you are interested in helping other than this petition we need media access to address the issue with science and first hand knowledge.
Radio, T.V., Magazines , Enviromental Groups and Papers

Monday, October 5, 2015

Shellfish Politics: $50,000 paid to Glover Park by Taylor Shellfish and Others to Eliminate Eelgrass Protection

Open Secrets has reported Taylor Shellfish and others have paid $50,000 to the Glover Park Group, a Washington DC lobbying firm. While unconfirmed, at the same time, Washington representatives effectively pleaded with the Corps to drop Condition 7, a regulation which would have provided eelgrass protection in south Puget Sound. The Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat and others have written to Washington representatives and the Corps to ask this decision be reversed. (See Coalition letter by clicking here.)

What was the shellfish industry so concerned about? This:
"For continuing activities in 'fallow' areas, those activities shall not occur within 16 horizontal feet of native eelgrass (Zostera marina).  If eelgrass is present in the vicinity of a fallow acreage proposed for shellfish activities, the eelgrass shall be delineated and a map or sketch prepared and submitted to the Corps.  Surveys to determine presence and location of eelgrass shall be done during times of peak above-ground biomass: June - August.  The following information must be included to scale:  parcel boundaries, eelgrass locations and on-site dimensions, shellfish activity locations and dimensions."
Get involved. Caring about clean water means nothing if critical marine habitat is being put at risk by this industry.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Willapa Bay: Oysterville Sea Farms Court Decision May be Appealed by Pacific County

Intensification or Expansion?

What guidance will Pacific County's commissioners give the prosecutor? What guidance will Pacific County residents give the commissioners?
The Chinook Observer writes on the recent court decision in Pacific County over whether Dan Driscoll and his Oysterville Sea Farms operation are in violation of county regulations. These violations were reportedly driven from family tensions between Mr. Driscoll and his estranged uncle Dick Sheldon and son Brian (proponents of spraying imidacloprid neurotoxins and the herbicide imazamox on Willapa Bay shellfish beds), using their political influence to "motivate" Pacific County to begin an action against Mr. Driscoll. As reported by OPB in 2013:
In April 2012, for example, Barnett Kalikow, an Olympia-based attorney who represents Sheldon, pressured County Prosecutor David Burke and commissioners to take action against Driscoll, hinting that if they didn’t, their own careers could be at risk. “If the prosecutor fails in his duty, we have a number of options, ranging from extraordinary writs to recall petitions or both … . Any interference, abetting, advising, or pressuring the prosecutor to ignore or violate this statute may subject the commissioner himself to criminal sanction,” Kalikow wrote.
The OPB article continues, noting:
In June 2011, Sheldon filed a complaint with the county, pointing out that Driscoll was violating his agreement with the county by selling items such as jam and pasta sauce that went beyond the limited inventory the county had approved.
Get involved - elections are coming and commissioners, or those choosing to run against them, should hear (emails below)
Currently, Pacific County's prosecutor is seeking guidance from the commissioners on whether to appeal the decision. In the 2013 OPB article, Faith Taylor-Edred is quoted as saying:
Taylor-Eldred said, “Get involved in the process. When there’s a public hearing, they have to show up and voice their opinions.”
Good advice then, better advice now. Terms for Commissioner Frank Wolf (fwolfe@co.pacific.wa.us)  and Steve Rogers (srogers@co.pacific.wa.us) end in 2016. Lisa Ayers' (layers@co.pacific.wa.us) term runs through 2018.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Center for Food Safety Writes on the Dangers of Imidacloprid in Aquatic Systems

The Center for Food Safety has released a report on the dangers of imidacloprid (one of the neonicotinoid pesticides tied to honey bee colony collapse) to the aquatic ecosystem's species. Those species include invertebrates and birds. Some Willapa Bay shellfish growers continue to press the Department of Ecology to allow spraying of this pesticide - along with the herbicide imazamox - directly onto shellfish beds. It's time to stop.


Saturday, August 29, 2015

DNR Turns Its Back on Managing Puget Sound Subtidal Areas

DNR: Not my job. We only auction harvest rights
on subtidal geoduck tracts and we don't manage them
like our forestlands which require replanting.
"Basically, if you cut down a forest,
it takes a very long time to come back."
Bob Sizemore, Department of Fish and Wildlife
In an interview on PBS Newshour with Katie Campbell, Bob Sizemore discusses the impact which poaching of geoduck is having on the subtidal population of geoduck. While DFW is responsible for setting the percentage of of how much wild geoduck should be harvested, it is the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) who is responsible for overseeing the actual harvesting and auctioning. Between the two, neither seem capable of guaranteeing the wild population will be retained in numbers high enough to re-populate the areas harvested, a management plan which, if successful, takes 40 years to accomplish. But it's not working and puts the entire population of Puget Sound's subtidal geoduck population at risk of following the same pattern the shellfish industry set in the late 1800's when the native Olympia oyster was overharvested to near extinction.

"We see signs of poaching, and we don’t find any recovery."
Bob Sizemore, Department of Fish and Wildlife
With 5 divers, DFW is responsible for checking the population of geoduck after harvesting in areas auctioned off. With those divers, they are only able to check on 3% of the areas harvested, and what Bob Sizemore says they are finding are poaching and no recovery. On only sampling 3% of the areas harvested. The response from DNR? Keep harvesting, repopulating is not our job. Unless it's forestland, but it's not.
"...they’re [DFW] only able to check a fraction of the boxes,
and there’s no telling how much illegal shellfish slips through."
Attempts to find illegally harvested shellfish being exported at the airport, as with DFW's divers, is understaffed and only able to "check a fraction" of what is being exported. Coupled with responsibilities for checking the "black market" where seafood turns up, it is a woefully inadequate attempt to control a black market where tens of thousands of dollars are being exchanged each day. DNR simply feeds the pipeline with wild geoduck hoping somebody else will figure out the solution to poaching and the risk to wild populations. Unlike their forestlands, which they require replanting of after harvesting.
It's not 2008. It's time for DNR
to require replanting of subtidal areas
being stripped of geoduck.
Commissioner of Public Lands, Peter Goldmark (cpl@dnr.wa.gov), was elected in 2008 in a wave of concerns over how DNR's aquatics division was being managed. Questionable tideland leases and the handling of Taylor Shellfish's encroachment onto state tidelands by then Commissioner Sutherland and the aquatics division were of such concern enough voters turned out to elect Commissioner Goldmark, a scientist and rancher. He needs to rise above the politics of geoduck farming which have to date prevented DNR, or DFW, from implementing a management plan like that of its forestlands - requiring replanting of the subtidal areas harvested.
Benefiting a few does not benefit the state
or tribal members.
Pressures to limit the state's production for the benefit of the few large intertidal shellfish growers (Taylor Shellfish, Seattle Shellfish and Chelsea Farms) needs to be countered with reason and logic based on true management of the state's subtidal resources. Not one which forces geoduck into intertidal areas, in densities never found in that tidal area, with plastic nets and tubes never found in that area. Concerns over genetic diversity are easily handled through use of wild geoduck for seed. Concerns over "difficulties" in planting in subtidal areas are countered by Chelsea Farms pursuing a permit, now in the courts, for a farm in a subtidal area which they seem to find no problem planting in. Seed sources may be limited, but so too were salmon smolt when DFW took on managing fish hatcheries to produce salmon in 1895. Waiting 40 years for a subtidal area to be ready to harvest when that same area, if managed by replanting could be harvested 5 times (based on an 8 year growing cycle), is far more beneficial to the state. And the tribes. It is management and would most certainly help ensure the wild population continues on into the future. For the benefit of everyone, not just the few profiteering off of intertidal commercial farms, and not just the few poaching.
Get involved.
Let Commissioner Goldmark know it is not 2008 by writing and demanding DNR and DFW work to replant areas harvested instead of relying on a flawed model. Before it's too late. Commissioner Goldmark may be contacted at cpl@dnr.wa.gov, or the office may be contacted at:
Kelli Messegee Office of the Commissioner of Public Lands
MS 47001
Olympia, WA 98504-7001
Find your local representative and tell them it's time to staff DFW with enough people to stop poaching here: http://app.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/

Monday, August 24, 2015

Puget Sound Shellfish Growers Lobby to Remove Eelgrass Protection

"Jump!" "Yes sir! How high?"

Puget Sound Shellfish Growers to lobbyist - We will pay you well to convince Washington's legislative representatives to tell the Army Corps to eliminate this protection for eelgrass:

For continuing activities in ‘fallow’ areas, those activities shall not occur within 16 horizontal feet of native eelgrass (Zostera marina). If eelgrass is present in the vicinity of a fallow acreage proposed for shellfish activities, the eelgrass shall be delineated and a map or sketch prepared and submitted to the Corps. Surveys to determine presence and location of eelgrass shall be done during times of peak above-ground biomass: June – August. The following information must be included to scale: parcel boundaries, eelgrass locations and on-site dimensions, shellfish activity locations and dimensions.

Washington environmental groups, including the League of Women Voters, band together and ask representatives (see complete letter here):

Specifically, we are asking you to immediately retract your request to remove Condition 7 from the Programmatic Biological Assessment (PBA) for aquaculture permitting currently being developed by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Eelgrass - a critical habitat to everyone.
Except the shellfish industry.

Money solves everyone's political problem.
The shellfish industry of Washington has successfully enlisted Washington DC lobbyists to convince legislative representatives that protection of eelgrass should not be a priority. Using their own definition of what a "fallow" tideland area is, and creating a false description of what "Condition 7" would actually do, the Seattle Division of the Corps was forced to remove the protection to eelgrass which the above paragraph would have provided.

Eelgrass can grow here?

Voters solve problems with representatives beholden to lobbyists.
In the letter to the Corps the Washington delegation claims falsely that aquaculture has "... successfully co-existed with eelgrass for over one hundred years." This is patently untrue. Anyone who has witnessed acres of plastic grow-out bags on the tideland sediments has seen the complete lack of aquatic vegetation which exists. Anything which may have grown on the bags is either washed off or removed during harvest. Any eelgrass, or other aquatic vegetation, which may have existed is simply scoured away. Areas under longline/raft facilities are shaded, preventing growth, and when coupled with shells which drop off, are simply a dead zone beneath them. A recent permit for a subtidal geoduck farm adjacent to eelgrass beds in south Puget Sound was rejected due to its impact on eelgrass.

Our well being is more important than critical marine habitat.
In the letter from the congressional delegates to the Corps the Puget Sound shellfish growers are clear in what they care about - their profitability and ability to make more money at the expense of Puget Sound's critical marine habitat. The letter states:
"We are concerned that if Condition #7 were to go into effect, current shellfish operations would be adversely impacted and the continued growth of the shellfish industry - and the thousands of jobs it supports - could be negatively impacted."
You don't always get what you want.
Sometimes in business there are things more important than the profits a company makes. Whatever the false narrative created by the shellfish lobbyists, the reality is eelgrass is a critical marine habitat. It does not co-exist with the industrial level of shellfish production which now exits and which is proposed. It is why docks are heavily regulated. It is why bulkheads are heavily regulated. It is why any overwater structure is heavily regulated. It is why shellfish aquaculture needs to be brought under control. It has certainly played a role in Washington's history. But it is not "vital" nor is it the only reason tidelands were sold.

Get involved. Puget Sound is not a factory for producing shellfish.
The following groups have demanded eelgrass protection be put back in place. You can as well.
League of Women Voters of Washington; Sound Action; Washington State Chapter of the Sierra Club; Friends of the San Juans; Coastal Watershed Institute; Black Hills Audubon Society; Audubon Washington; Tahoma Audubon Society; Orca Network; Resources for Sustainable Communities; Wild Fish Conservancy; and, Seattle Audubon Society.

Legislators who sent the letter and should be contacted were:
(additional contact information may be found here: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials)
 Senator Patty Murray 154 Russell Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510
Senator Maria Cantwell 11 Hart Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510
Representative Suzan Delbene 18 Cannon House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515
Representative Rick Larsen 113 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515
Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler 130 Longworth House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515
Representative Dan Newhouse 641 Longworth House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515
Representative Cathy McMorris Rogers 203 Cannon House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515
Representative Derek Kilmer 1520 Longworth House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515
Representative Jim McDermott 1035 Longworth House Office Building Washington, D.C 20515
Representative Dave Reichert 1127 Longworth House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515-4708
Representative Adam Smith 2264 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515
Representative Denny Heck 425 Cannon House Office Building Washington, DC 20515

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Willapa Bay: News on Imidacloprid Pesticide Use Strenghens its Link to Honey Bee Die-off

It's time for a change in Willapa Bay.
Stung again.
August 18, 2015: The Rolling Stone writes an article which continues to link imidacloprid (one in the class of neonicotidoids) to honey bee die-off. In Willapa Bay, where shellfish growers proposed spraying this neurotoxin deadly to honey bees in the marine waters of Willapa Bay, they have hired a Public Relations spokes woman (India Simmons, founder of PR Ink) to "massage the message." Worse, on August 8 the Seattle Times reports:
Stung by the bad press, members of WGHOGA closed ranks and hired a public-relations firm. In recent meetings with DOE, they raised the possibility of modifying their plans and applying for another permit to spray.
Change in attitude and change in personnel are needed.
It's time for a change in large corporate shellfish grower mentality and in the belief of Washington State University's Kim Patten that the application of chemicals in Willapa Bay will solve their problems. When asked what he intended to do after the permit to apply imidacloprid was pulled, the Seattle Times reported all he could do "was shrug." WSU needs to suggest that Mr. Patten, 62 years old, consider retiring and bring someone in who is not reliant on the application of chemicals to solve every perceived problem, whether it be native burrowing shrimp or Japanese eelgrass.

Pollinators are far more important than non-native oysters and non-native clams.
There is a crisis with honey bee die-off which will have a far greater impact on the world's food source than non-native Pacific oysters or non-native Manila clams from Willapa Bay will ever have. That corporate shellfish growers still support the possibility of spraying and that Mr. Patten can "only shrug" speaks to their one-dimensional thinking. 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

KING 5 Broadcast: A "Renaissance" in geoduck farming?

A renaissance in geoduck farming?

This renaissance is a bridge which should not be built.
KING 5 News has broadcast their story on geoduck farming, making it available on their web site to view. In the opening they describe the interest in expansion as a "renaissance." Some might question that description, along with attempts to portray it as simply another form of farming, instead saying it is the equivalent of wetlands being drained and built on. The resulting transformation and loss of critical marine habitat will never return to its original state, an assumption made by Sea Grant in their studies which state things return to their baseline when "farming" stops. It does not stop, but continues on in cycle after cycle, one building on the other, like a growing housing development along the shoreline.

"Better ways with less of an impact."
We see what we want to see and 
hear what we want to hear.

It sounds so good. What could go wrong?
In the broadcast Bill Dewey, with Taylor Shellfish, admits their methods were resulting in PVC and nets being scattered throughout Puget Sound's intertidal areas. Something which in the past was minimized by all growers, including Taylor Shellfish, who claimed "beach cleanups" which occur at high tides were not finding anything of significance and "beach patrols" at low tide found whatever else there was. Instead, now,  a "new way" of growing is being attempted - mesh tubes - with the claim it will be better. This despite Seattle Shellfish telling the Corps of Engineers it is not proven enough to stop using netting as the National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS) suggested. The Corps, in an letter to NMFS, states:
"The CR addressing individual tube predator nets and or flow-through tubes will not be implemented because the applicant states canopy netting is often preferred, depending on natural site conditions and characteristics, to ensure there is no escapement of unnatural materials (e.g. tubes) and the applicant has not yet achieved commercial feasibility with mesh style tubing."
Using mesh makes for a good sound bite
but others find it less successful.
Eld Inlet

Mesh netting does not belong in Puget Sound (see KOMO broadcast on recent net removal project here) whether in the shape of a tube, strips, or nets.
Mr. Dewey's description of mesh tubing (aka "flow through" tubing) as a means to address a growing pollution problem in Puget Sound caused from geoduck growers does sounds good. However, based on past experience, the dynamics of Puget Sound, whether waves or current, make these attempts questionable. In Eld Inlet, one grower's attempt to use mesh strips in a figure 8 has resulted in loose mesh strips waving in the waters. Just recently the Northwest Straights Foundation celebrated removing over 5,000 derelict nets from Puget Sound. Is netting in the shape of a tube any better? Is it really any better than loose PVC? We see what we want to see.

Things don't go up forever.

Don't believe it when they say "this is different."
Noted in the article is that the "big demand" for geoduck in China has resulted in the need for the shellfish industry to take advantage of the market, helping them to "diversify" their products. All businesses run in cycles with short supply of a product in demand resulting in an increase in production, leading to an eventual collapse of the market as supply overwhelms that demand. (Alaska and British Columbia are both ramping up their production.) Describing it as being "drought resistant" may be true, but it is a specialty product with one primary market - China. When demand from that market drops for economic reasons, and supply increases, it becomes a market which will collapse, leaving in its wake mesh tubing and geoduck growing in densities in the intertidal area they never grew in, with an ecosystem transformed forever, diminishing Puget Sound's natural capital.

It's the water. And it's changing.

They may be drought resistant, but the water is questionable.
Finally, a recently released study indicates the geoduck growers have more to be concerned about than shoreline owners and environmental activists seeing the growing impact of this industry on Puget Sound's intertidal area. The waters of Puget Sound and the sediments these geoduck are growing in are not as pure as the water from artesian wells which Olympia Beer once used. A recently released study on toxic contaminants in Puget Sound paints a picture which consumers of shellfish grown in Puget Sound should take to heart: 
These findings suggest toxic contaminants are entering the nearshore food web of the Salish Sea, especially along shorelines adjacent to highly urbanized areas. Some contaminants such as PAHs exhibited a wider, less predictable distribution, than the other organic chemicals, perhaps related to sources that may occur on rural or less developed landscapes (e.g., roadways, creosote pilings, marinas, and ferry terminals). We recommend that Washington State develop a long-term, regional, nearshore sampling program using caged mussels as a sentinel species to monitor status and trends of contaminants in nearshore biota. Success of such a large-scale fieldintensive study is predicated on participation by citizen science volunteers to conduct the field work, and by partner groups interested in monitoring pollution in their nearshore areas to maximize spatial coverage in the Sound. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Friends of Burley Lagoon Featured on KING5 TV

Friends of Burley Lagoon has released a statement noting Alison Morrow, with KING5 TV, will have information tonight on issues surrounding proposed geoduck farming in this area of Pierce County and south Puget Sound. FOBL believes information will be presented in the 5PM to 6PM news slot. If you have time, you can thank Alison and KING5 for their time and focus here: http://static.king5.com/contact-us/
[corrected spelling of Ms. Morrow's name at 5:09PM ] 

Friday, July 31, 2015

Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health Xprize for $2 million Awarded to Missoula Montana Firm, Sunburst Sensors

Sunburst Sensors from Missoula, Montana, has been awarded $2 million in the Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE contest for having developed a pH sensor which is both accurate and affordable. Each category - accuracy and affordability - was worth $750,000 each, for a total of $1.5 million. The remaining $500,000 was awarded to two other teams for their efforts.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

July 31, 8:46PM - Blue Moon Rising, Sun Setting

You won't see it if you don't get out.

July 31 at 8:46 (Olympia time) is a rare moment. The 2nd full moon of July (a Blue Moon) rises and the sun sets at the same time. Get out and look to the west and east at 8:46PM. It will be a spectacular sunset and a spectacular moonrise.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Last Significant Daylight Minus Tides are This Weekend

There's a whole different world out there
which you won't see if you stay inside. Get out.

The last significant daylight minus tides, which also fall on a weekend, will occur this coming Saturday and Sunday. The weather is forecast to be sunny and warm. Get out and enjoy the unique area exposed when tides are this low.

Olympia Tides/Forecast July 30 through August 3
-2.2 on Thursday at 11:39AM Forecast high - 94 degrees
-2.5 on Friday at 12:22PM Forecast high - 94 degrees
-2.3 on Saturday at 1:06PM Forecast high - 93 degrees
-1.7 on Sunday at 1:51PM Forecast high - 89 degrees
-.7 on Monday at 2:37PM Forecast high - 87 degrees

Monday, July 27, 2015

Fudge Point State Park: Parks and Recreation Adds 48 acres to 136 and Approves Classification and Management Plan

Fudge Point State Park, Harstine Island
Almost Complete

Upland acquisition of lands for Fudge Point State Park complete
The Washington State Recreation and Conservation Funding Board has awarded $368,750 to acquire an additional 48 acres of uplands on Harstine Island. This acquisition will bring almost all uplands and tidelands under the Parks and Recreation ownership, creating an upland State Park of over 180 acres with access to almost 3,700 feet of waterfront in south Puget Sound on the eastern shoreline of Harstine Island. Views of Mount Ranier to the south and the Olympics to the north are spectacular. Fresh water ouflows from upland wetlands creates a unique transitional habitat to experience. Upland camping facilities will provide overnight experiences in the quiet of an isolated area. While an existing geoduck farm exists within the lower tidelands of the lagoon area, it is unlikely to present a problem for access from the water. 
Fudge Point State Park Lagoon
April 19, 2011 (looking south)
(before Taylor Shellfish geoduck farm)
Access for all the public to Washington's marine habitat and unique upland areas on Harstine Island comes closer to reality
July 22 the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission unanimously approved the land classification and management plan for Fudge Point State Park. An attempt to pass an amendment which would have removed overnight camping and cabins from the plan was rejected by a 6 to 1 vote. Parks and Recreation will now be able to begin work on improving access roads, developing outdoor camping spots and cabins for overnight use, parking facilities for day use, interpretive centers, and restroom facilities (see the July 2015 Final Recommendation here). For complete planning, steps taken and history, visit the Fudge Point Planning site here.
Long term development pland
of Fudge Point State Park
Get involved. Great things can happen when you are.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Seattle Shellfish to Mason County - Oops, guess we didn't quite know what we were doing.

Who is managing who?
Mason County Taken for a Ride
Public Loses Access to Tidelands

These are the experts in geoduck farming? 2 years later, "we don't know yet".
In August of 2013, Seattle Shellfish began formally working on acquiring tidelands between McMicken Island State Park and Harstine Island from Mason County, with the intention of growing geoduck. When Mason County decided a land swap was not workable, work on arranging a lease for those tidelands began which culminated in an April 1, 2014 lease. The county would receive 15% of the revenues. Projections of $3 million to the county now appear greatly overstated with the analysis of the tidelands being greatly understated. As of July 14, 2015, all Seattle Shellfish is able to tell Mason County is they don't know how many tidelands are suitable to grow geoduck. The Mason County Journal reported July 16 it was less than half. Who is managing who?

No, you can't dig here anymore.
Thank you Mason County.

December 2013: Tim Sheldon explaining
to fellow commissioners how ex-Commissioner
Steve Bloomfield's Seattle Shellfish will make the
County $3 million growing geoduck with
the public losing access to those acres.
Screenshot from MasonWebTV, December 11, 2013
[see at - https://youtu.be/dl5-j7Zona0]

The public's use of these tidelands is of no value. Ex-Commissioner Bloomfield with Seattle Shellfish says you'll get $3 million. 
In December of 2013 Mason County Commissioners approved a resolution to lease 19 acres of prime public tidelands between McMicken Island State Park and Harstine Island. Long used by the public for digging shellfish and enjoying the intertidal experience of Puget Sound, ex-County Commissioner Steve Bloomfield with Seattle Shellfish laid out a revenue stream which the county would receive, quoting figures of $3 million dollars from revenues and $1,000 in annual acres leased. What could go wrong? 

This isn't quite what I thought it would be.

April 1, 2014: "So there's an estimate of $3 million." 
More or less. Commissioner Jeffreys to an attendee
of the Commissioner meeting.
Screenshot from MasonWebTV, April 2, 2014
[see at - https://youtu.be/zDK0m0IrZAM]

Entering into a lease on April Fools Day should have been warning enough.
Acting on the resolution passed in December, the county entered into a lease agreement with Seattle Shellfish April 1, 2014. At that meeting, Commissioner Jeffreys begins to back shuffle on the firmness of that $3 million in revenues. The illusion created by waving her hands belied just how weak that reality was and drove home why you should not enter into lease agreements on April Fools Day.

April 1, 2014: "It is an agricultural thing and 
in agriculture you never know what tomorrow
is going to bring." Seattle Shellfish's Steve Bloomfield
Screenshot from Mason WebTV, April 2, 2014
[see at - https://youtu.be/-mSGmnym1Js]

Seattle Shellfish is supposed to be an expert in this geoduck farming "agricultural thing". At least that's what they tell their investors and those they lease tidelands from.
At that same meeting, ex-Commisioner Steve Bloomfield with Seattle Shellfish began to explain why there may be cracks in the promises made. Pounding his fists together, Mr. Bloomfield explained to an attendee that some of the tidelands were "hardpan, like this floor." Mr. Bloomfield continued on to explain that Seattle Shellfish really didn't know how many acres could actually grow geoduck. Did the Commissioners then wonder just what it was they had entered into on April 1? Apparently not.

April 14, 2015: "Maybe a little bit of income
for the County over the years."
Ex-commissioner Steve Bloomfield w/Seattle Shellfish
Screenshot from Mason WebTV, April 15, 2015
[see at - https://youtu.be/23tjxtyHC18]

Yes, we've completely evaluated the sediments and habitat area and we know exactly where we are going to plant geoduck. At least on paper.
Despite the now apparent lack of awareness in just what tidelands were usable for geoduck, Seattle Shellfish forged ahead with permits. In those permit applications Seattle Shellfish was clear in stating they would be developing a geoduck farm on 19 acres. [corrected 7/19 - SS did note they were unsure of sediment types and what could be planted. Why approval was granted remains a question.]. Based on drawings submitted June of 2014, and information provided on the sediments and habitat by Seattle Shellfish, the Corps asked for an opinion from the US Fish and Wildlife and National Marine Fisheries Services. Based on that apparently flawed data, they approved a permit for the proposed 19 acre geoduck farm in December of 2014. As recently as April 14, 2015, Mr. Bloomfield was still assuring the county they were forging ahead and the county would be receiving a "little bit of income". Someday. How much that would be was no longer being stated as $3 million. 

The dog days of summer slow thinking down. 
July 14, 2015, ex-Commissioner Bloomfield stood before two Mason County Commissioners and explained Seattle Shellfish was wrong in estimating how much of the tidelands would be usable for geoduck. They were apparently unaware that the center of the lagoon area was a "catch basin" for aquatic vegetation which created anaerobic conditions in the sediments, which for an unexplained reason, were not compatible with geoduck aquaculture. Commissioner Sheldon, who originally extolled the benefits of the lease arrangement, was absent from the meeting. Ms. Jeffreys, instead of asking why it had taken Seattle Shellfish so long to determine their estimates were so wrong, thanked Mr. Bloomfield for keeping her aware. You may listen to ex-Commissioner Bloomfield explain the situation and the commissioners inability to question why things were now so understated by downloading this zip file, beginning at 5:55. Or simply shake your head and wonder who is managing who.

Get involved. The shellfish industry is.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

July 16th: Meeting on Taylor Shellfish Sustainability Rating at Griffin Hall

Get Involved - Thursday July 16th: Community meeting 3-5 pm at Griffin Hall, 3707 Steamboat Lp NW, Olympia to discuss "sustainability" certification of Taylor Shellfish.
Sustainable? Taylor Shellfish believes so.
Email comments to:
a - Name and contact details
b - Your association with the farm
c - Issues you would like to discuss
Also helpful are pictures or studies you may have.
Sustainable? Taylor Shellfish believes so.
Juan Aguirre with SCS will hold a public meeting from 3 to 5 PM at Griffin Hall to discuss the sustainability certification Taylor Shellfish is attempting to acquire on a "cluster" of farms located in Totten Inlet, Skookum Inlet, and Oakland Bay.
Standards by which Taylor Shellfish will be judged may be found here (why ASC and not Monterey Bay?):
The "public notice" which announced the south Puget Sound certification process is found here:
Get involved. Taylor Shellfish is and they helped create the very standards by which they are to be "judged".