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:

Saturday, June 27, 2015

DOH Issues Warning: Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning Toxins Detected in Washington State Shellfish

Record High Temperatures
and Genetically Modified Oysters
Increase Risks from Puget Sound Oysters

Warming weather and waters combine to compound shellfish safety problems
In addition to having closed Pickering Passage and the southern portion of Hood Canal to the commercial harvest of oysters due to high levels of vibrio, the Department of Health has also issued a warning after discovering paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) toxins in shellfish from portions of Hood Canal, along the outer coast, northern Puget Sound, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca (see press release below). Record warm weather and coming minus tides as July 4 approaches make harvesting and consuming shellfish harvested from Puget Sound particularly risky, especially as the PSP toxins cannot be removed by cooking shellfish. Consumers are encouraged to review the Department of Health's "Recreational Shellfish Harvesting: Safe handling, storing, and cooking practices."

Genetic modification: Make them bigger,
make them sterile, make them tasty all year long.
Even in the summer months.

Genetically modified oysters compound problems from summer heat
In years past oysters were typically not palatable during the summer months as they became fertile. But with the creation of genetically modified oysters which are sterile the taste of oysters during the summer months became less of an issue, resulting in increased consumption. A 2010 article on the genetic modification of oysters, creating what are known as "triploids" and "tetraploids", discusses how extra chromosomes are forced into oyster eggs, using a mycotoxin called cytochalasin B. In part the article discusses the creation of the genetically modified Pacific oyster sold on the West Coast, primarily from Puget Sound and Willapa Bay:
"Working with Coast Oyster Company, one of the largest commercial oyster companies in the world, Allen and Downing next adapted his tricky chemical techniques to the task of creating triploids in large batches. The solutions Allen and Downing came up with were sometimes messy but mostly successful, with their commercial batches averaging 70 to 90 percent triploids. The bucket biologist had joined the biotech revolution...

 "...And large oyster hatcheries on the West Coast were selling triploids to oyster growers, they in turn were selling them to restaurants, and restaurants were selling them to customers."
June 26 Press Release, Department of Health: Marine biotoxins reach dangerous levels in Puget Sound and coastal areas

OLYMPIA -- High levels of naturally-occurring marine biotoxins have prompted the closure of recreational shellfish harvesting in portions of Hood Canal, along the outer coast, northern Puget Sound, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

In these areas, public beaches have been closed and private property owners are advised not to harvest shellfish until toxin levels decrease. Harvesters can find the status of their harvest area on the Department of Health Shellfish Safety Maps.

“Knowing that a shellfish area is safe for harvest is important to avoid possible illness, and we’ve made that easy with our clickable maps,” said Laura Johnson with the agency’s Shellfish Licensing and Certification programs. “This year has been particularly active for marine biotoxins, leading to frequent closures of recreational harvesting areas. We’re opening and closing harvest areas every day. It’s extremely important to check our Shellfish Safety Maps before heading to a public beach or harvesting on your own property.”
Testing has shown dangerous levels of paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) toxins near Hoodsport in southern Hood Canal for the first time. At the same time, domoic acid levels along the outer coast have recently closed razor clam and crab harvests.
Marine biotoxins are not destroyed by cooking or freezing, and people can get very sick and may even die from eating contaminated shellfish. Symptoms of PSP can appear within minutes or hours and usually begin with tingling lips and tongue, moving to the hands and feet. This is followed by difficulty breathing and potentially death. Anyone who has eaten shellfish and begins having these symptoms should get medical help immediately.
The state health department works with commercial harvesters in areas with increasing marine biotoxin levels to thoroughly test product before it can be harvested and sold. All commercially harvested shellfish currently on the market should be safe to eat.
The Department of Health website (www.doh.wa.gov) is your source for a healthy dose of information. Also, find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Willapa Bay Shellfish Grower Fined $175,000 for Clean Water Act Violations - DOE Taken for Another Ride

Who is managing who? 
The Willapa Bay shellfish industry takes
the Department of Ecology for another ride.

June 19, 2015: Wiegardt Brothers Inc. (WBI) president pleads guilty to violating the Clean Water Act.
2012 - 2014: Permit monitoring violations by WBI knowingly occurred.
April 8, 2013: Department of Ecology reauthorizes WBI's permit based on "up to date information on the facility's waste treatment practices" in order to "...minimize the number of active permits that have passed their expiration dates..."

Just tell them what they want to hear.
Or don't.

Continuing to confirm shellfish growers are far from being the PR description of "good stewards" of Washington's most critical marine waters and habitat, Willapa Bay shellfish grower and seafood processor WBI has been found guilty of knowingly discharging untested effluent into Willapa Bay for two years, between 2012 and 2014. The Seattle Times reported June 20th the president and majority owner of WBI (Frederic "Fritz" Wiegardt) was fully aware WBI was "...not performing the monthly effluent sampling that their permit required." [For more, see Department of Justice press release.]

"Compliance with fecal coliform limits
has proved difficult for most seafood processors."
What about everybody else? Does that mean nobody
needs to care any longer about fecal coliform discharges?

In April of 2013, at a time when Mr. Wiegardt was fully aware of the permit violations occurring, DOE approved a reauthorization of WBI's discharge permit for an additional 5 years. In that reauthorization notice, they write seafood processors had difficulty complying with fecal coliform limits so were not overly concerned of past violations. Included was a table from February 2008 showing 5 separate days of exceeding fecal coliform levels, in one month. It was assumed none were reported after that date, but based on the admitted guilt of inadequate monitoring it is now impossible to say. (Note: While Public Notice of the decision was published in the Chinook Observer in January of 2013, it did not note a reauthorization versus renewal process had occurred.)

Advantages of Reauthorization over Renewal
It's less work for DOE because it will
"...minimize the number of active permits 
that have passed their expiration dates..."
(Department of Ecology)

In consideration of reauthorizing or renewing discharge permits, DOE has the option of either doing a complete review of the permit or simply reauthorizing the permit. How DOE lessens its workload through reauthorization versus renewal is explained in the permit reauthorization notice this way:
When Ecology reauthorizes a discharge permit it essentially reissues the permit with the existing limits, terms and conditions. Alternatively, when Ecology renews a permit it re-evaluates the impact of the discharge on the receiving water, which may lead to changes in the limits, terms and conditions of the permit. [i.e., it takes more work]
 The 2013 reauthorization document noted DOE was not concerned over fecal coliform violations, apparently because it is "difficult for most seafood processors" to control. Instead, DOE was satisfied with reliance on shellfish grower WBI because:
"Ecology has up-to date information on the facility’s waste treatment practices, the facility’s production levels; and the nature, content, volume, and frequency of its discharge (see more information in Appendix C)."
“What really got us was the social media,” said Willapa Bay 
shellfish grower Ken Wiegardt, a fifth-generation farmer.
Chinook Observer, June 15, 2015 
quoting WBI's "fifth generation" member
on why the people did not want
the neurotoxin imidacloprid sprayed
into Willapa Bay and its shellfish beds.

Lost on the Wiegardt and Sheldon families is that it is the duplicity of the shellfish industry which "really got" the public to revolt against the Willapa Bay shellfish growers, not "social media" making people aware of it. When the PR curtain of being a "good steward" is pulled back to reveal how little shellfish growers really care about the marine habitat they profit so well from, hiring a public relations firm won't help. Unless you happen to be an employee of a public relations firm or a lobbyist. Then you can expect the shills to prosper.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Shellfish Poisoning: West Coast Experiences Large Toxic Algae Bloom

Sea Lion experiencing seizures
from domoic acid, one of the
toxins, this created by diatoms. 
(photo from NOAA)

KUOW's Ashley Ahearn interviews NOAA's Vera Trainer on how the west coast, from Monterey Bay to Alaska, is being impacted by toxic algae blooms. Jerry Brochert with Washington's Department of Health notes "...all three types of harmful algae found in the Northwest are blooming at the same time." Ms Trainer believes commercially harvested shellfish "...are absolutely safe."

Nonetheless, consumers should be careful. Washington's Department of Health posts this warning on their web site:

Cooking does not destroy biotoxins
Cooking will kill the algae that produces the toxin, but the toxin itself is not affected by cooking and remains in the shellfish tissue.

There is no antidote for biotoxin poisoningVictims must wait for the toxins to naturally flush from their body.  Life support systems such as respirators and oxygen are used in extreme cases to keep the victim alive and stable.  See the links below for more information about poison symptoms of specific types of biotoxins

Monday, June 15, 2015

Willapa Bay: Can't we just get along? Not if the Sheldon's disagree with you.

[Update 6/17: Oysterville Mirth, which has followed the Oysterville Seafood Farms saga for some time, writes of how Pacific County prosecutors argued before the judge about whether pasta was seafood.]

June 16
South District Court, 9AM
7013 Sandridge Road
Long Beach, WA
Can Oysterville Sea Farms sell jam? Is clam chowder a sea food?

Oysterville Sea Farms: Bad for Willapa Bay?
The Sheldon's believe so.
One Holway sister gets Northern Oyster, 
the other gets Oysterville Sea Farms.

Does that jam have oyster juice in it?
June 16 the long awaited court hearing on whether the historic Oysterville Sea Farms (owned by Dan Driscoll) can be told what to sell by Pacific County will begin. After receiving a 2011 "anonymous complaint" reportedly from Dick Sheldon, Pacific County filed a complaint about food items such as local jams not being "seafood" which was a violation of county code. Mr Driscoll complained that the county does not have the right to tell him what he can or cannot sell. The Holway sisters appear to have married into an unexpected family feud, seemingly in part based on one getting Northern Oyster and the other getting what is now the historic Oysterville Sea Farms (see page 9 of the November 2013 HIPFish Monthly for a brief history).

Sheldon belief: Spray, spray, spray. 
It's my belief and it's the only way.
Imidacloprid - stopped. Imazamox, continues.

Get involved. The Sheldon family is and all they see is spraying of herbicides and pesticides as the way to grow shellfish, and that Oysterville Sea Farms selling jam is a threat to Willapa Bay.
“Get involved in the process. When there’s a public hearing, they have to show up and voice their opinions.” Faith Taylor-Edred, Pacific County's Department of Community Development
Good advice, but it appears in Pacific County involvement by the public has less impact than what Dick and Brian Sheldon want. In a piece written on a hearing about Oysterville Sea Farms titled "Standing Room Only in Meeting Room A" (well worth reading to gain perspective on the forces at play) it was noted:
 "...it looked as though 73 of us were there to support the endeavors of Dan Driscoll and Oysterville Sea Farms.  That left three in opposition."
"You're just a scientist." Yes, but now a judge will hear testimony and make the decision, not Pacific County Commissioners.
At the same hearing, Dr. Alan Trimble, a well known marine scientist from the University of Washington, testified in favor of Oysterville Sea Farms. While long, it is worth the read to gain perspective on how small town politics and family feuds can override common sense. Tomorrow, June 16, we will begin to see if common sense or small town politics prevails in court.

“My name is Alan Trimble. I’m a scientist at the University of Washington. I’ve been working here about a decade now and we live in Nahcotta right across from the port. I’m a marine ecologist. My profession is to worry about the science of water quality and things living in bays, and I’ve devoted a decade to this particular estuary and I have to say it’s a pretty special place – entirely by accident. 

“People will claim that they are responsible for keeping it the way it is, but actually the fact is it’s the way it is because we already removed most of the resources from this place and most of the businesses failed. If you look at ancient pictures of Raymond, South Bend and Nahcotta and Oysterville, there were restaurants, there were bars, there were hotels, there were roads, there was a railroad, and there were several mills all over the bay. There was a very large industrial business, and in fact the Oysterville cannery was in the commercial district of Oysterville. 

“All of it is gone, essentially, and now we’re left with what we’ve got. I completely understand the desire to try and keep working buildings on the water working, given how hard it is to get any new buildings ever built anywhere. It’s very hard. It’s also extremely hard to start up a new shellfish business – the number of permits required and difficult things that people have to do to try and even begin to do any shellfishery in this bay is nearly impossible. 

“So I would suggest that we don’t actually have the problem we think we have. It is not that somebody is here trying to petition this place to put in a WalMart or a power plant or a pulp and paper mill. This is someone who’s operating the one and only (talk about unique!) building of its type on the bay. There are no others. No one else can come through here and petition to change this kind of building (that they also happen to have) into a restaurant, or a place that sells T-shirts, or an art studio, or anything else. There aren’t any other ones. 

“So I don’t see the conflict, frankly. I don’t see the specter on the horizon of hundreds of large businesses coming to the edge of the bay looking to scoop up the last three remaining historic buildings and turn them into some corporate empire. I don’t see it. And I do see that the protections that the federal government has on historic buildings (and there’s a reason why they have them)… it’s almost impossible to keep them standing. Most of those places have to have limited liability corporations and nonprofits to get donations just to keep the building standing. And they have to do all sorts of special events and things to keep those buildings viable and to continue to comply with permits: put in new septic systems, upgrade pilings, whatever it is that they have to do to continue to exist no matter where they are. It’s really expensive, and having a business with only one aspect – let’s say that the only legal aspect was to sell shucked oysters, and that was somehow in the county codes – there wouldn’t be a business standing on this peninsula. If that’s all they did, they’d be gone. 

“People have diversified: they sell clams, they sell crab, they sell salmon, they sell other things to remain viable. I think we’ve all been in the other stores around the bay that sell clams and oysters and soda pop and other things. It’s not a big deal to sell a T-shirt, really, with respect to water quality. 

“So, my two-cents-worth as a scientist is this: Puget Sound is trashed, and will be forever. So is Chesapeake Bay, so is Willapa Bay: if you look at it from the perspective of what it used to be, it is nothing like it used to be. In case you haven’t noticed, there’s almost nothing left of what it used to be, species-wise. It’s dominated by introduced species that we farm, trees that are planted at ridiculous densities to be harvested to make paper, and a few houses. It is nothing like it used to be. 

“My paramount goal as a scientist is to keep this place working as a sustainable community that uses the resources we have and the people we have – jointly – to succeed in progressing into the future. 

“Dan’s business, while it has some warts (it hasn’t been perfect, and I don’t think anybody would say that it has) is a reasonably good model of how to succeed against all the pressures that are out there. I think that I would suggest that this group figure out a way to reach a legitimate compromise to show a model of how a sustainable, small, multifaceted, waterfront business can actually work – because there aren’t any other ones: it’s the only one we have. Right, we have canneries, but nobody can go there and buy anything. We have people that ship to faraway places, but nobody can go to you to buy anything. It’s not a…it’s a different thing: those are industries. This (Oysterville Sea Farms) is not an industry. 

“Finally, I see absolutely no threat whatsoever from this kind of business – in fact this specific business – to the water quality or health of Willapa Bay. I can’t find one. It may be there, but the county has specified an ungodly-expensive septic system, and they don’t pump seawater and they don’t dump fresh water into the bay, and they collect all their garbage and they don’t even have a real kitchen in the building over the water – it’s across the road on land. 

“People walk out on the dock and look around, and sit on decks in chairs, and eat some food and talk to each other, and see the beautiful bay out there, and begin to understand what aquaculture is all about. It’s the only place on the whole bay where they can do that. It’s the only place that you can sit and enjoy eating oysters while you’re watching a dredge dredge oysters in front of your face. And the thought that that’s going to go away and that’s going to be a positive benefit to the bay I think is asinine. 

“So let’s not confuse the issue of whether this is opening the door to the world destroying Willapa Bay. If there was a whole waterfront district like there is in Seattle and Tacoma and Olympia and Chesapeake Bay, with hundreds and hundreds of waterfront buildings out over the water with old pilings rotting into the bay, and somebody was going to bring in a Costco or a Wal-Mart or IBM or Intel and put a factory there, that’s a whole other thing – and I bet you a lot of people would show up at a meeting like this to talk about that. 

“But that’s not what this is about, so I don’t want us to be confused about that.” 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Minterbrook Oyster/Kent Kingman Hearing Tonight, June 10

Friends of Burley Lagoon notes the following hearing for tonight:

June 10, 6:30PM
City of Gig Harbor
3510 Grandview St., Community Room A
Gig Harbor, WA

Shoreline Substantial Development Permit/Shoreline Conditional Use Permit: SD/CP9-15
Application Nos. 802556, 802559
Applicant: Minterbrook Oyster Company

Planner: Ty Booth, tbooth@co.pierce.wa.us

Request: Demolish an existing office building and construct a new 9,730 sq. ft., 2-story restaurant/office building, set back 30 ft. from the shoreline. Parking would be on site and off site within leased WSDOT right-of-way. The site would be served by sewers. In addition to the submitted applications, the following are also likely necessary: 1) Shoreline Variance for dining patio/building eaves located within the 30-ft. shoreline setback. 2) Administrative Design Review/Site Plan Review to ensure applicable building design standards, etc. are met. 3) Zoning Code Variance for a building located within 20 ft. of the front yard setback. 4) Sign Code Variance for sign(s) facing SR 302. The site is located at 13810 SR 302 NW, in Council District #7.
Will Pierce County use this permit application as a stick to motivate Mr. Kingman to resolve his unpermitted shellfish farm, bulkhead and deck he agreed to take care of in a 2013 settlement agreement? Or are they separate issues?

Saturday, June 6, 2015

DNR Tideland Leases: Who is managing who?

Arcadia Point Seafood: 2006 - Our offer is equal to 20%.
Arcadia Point Seafood: 2013 -We'll offer you 15% for a
far more convenient parcel, near home and existing farms.
DNR: 2015 - How about 10.25%?

~1 acre of state owned tidelands
planted with geoduck and no lease.
Settlement in 2010: $192,000
Harvest value in 2014: ~$1,300,000
(click to enlarge)

I never promised you a shellfish garden, but thanks for the roses.
A recent document request has provided Arcadia Point Seafood's lease proposal from DNR for tidelands in Mason County it and Seattle Shellfish were found to have been trespassing on in 2009. According to statements in applications, it may have been going on since 1988 but because of how statutes in Washington are written, all the state could collect on was activity which had occurred in the prior three years. Growers kept revenues from perhaps as many 3 harvest cycles. For encroachment on 1.2 acres, Arcadia Point Seafood and Seattle Shellfish settled with the state for $192,000 (be patient - DNR's servers are slow). They were allowed to retain possession of their geoduck planted on a bit more than 1 acre, which with geoduck at or above $14/pound, resulted in an estimated $1,300,000 at harvest (see below for how APS estimates their harvest amounts from tidelands). A complete survey of the area having been trespassed on may be found here.

Tidelands Arcadia Point Seafood
was responsive to. 

Will you respond to my offer?
In 2006, prior to the discovery of trespassing on state tidelands, Arcadia Point Seafood participated in "requests for offers to lease" tidelands for growing geoduck from DNR. Responses to those requests included Taylor Shellfish with Kent Kingman, Discovery Bay Shellfish, Seattle Shellfish, and Arcadia Point Seafood, among others. In 2007 a second request was made by DNR. (The 2006 maps may be found here and the 2007 maps here.) Arcadia Point Seafood was the successful "responder" to the proposal on Dickenson Point. 

Thurston County: You almost made it. Mason County: Don't worry about it.
In 2008 APS began seeking out other leases in the Dickenson Point area, being successful with the Thiesens and McClures, the former being adjacent to the north line of the state tidelands. It was a long process with many objecting to the industrial operations, some believing they did not fit in with the residential character of the area. But APS and Taylor Shellfish had money, motivation, and knew how to spend it in the right places. Those permits, while granted, resulted in the Shorelines Hearings Board noting "...it was a very close call.." on requiring a cumulative impacts analysis and Thurston County's  commissioners noting: "The Board shares many of the Coalition's concerns...about the impacts of geoduck aquaculture on the shorelines of Thurston County". It is far different than in Mason County where geoduck farming needs no permit at all. In fact, they have recently leased almost 20 acres of tidelands to Seattle Shellfish, being told they will receive an estimated $3 million from the lease. Maybe.

DNR - "You've won."
Arcadia - "Never mind. I have a better idea."
(and guess which county it's in)

Remind me of what I said in 2006 again?
In the successful response of APS they were seemingly more than generous, and made a point to show how much so. In their "Cost Proposal" they estimated the state would be receiving an estimated 20% of the "gross wholesale revenue" (see above image for their calculations). APS estimated from 40,000 square feet they would be harvesting 90,000 pounds (1.5 geoduck per square foot *40,000 * 1.5 pounds each). (The full response from APS may be found here.)

Seasons change and so did I, you need not wonder why. 
In 2013, seven  years later, after their harvest under the lucrative settlement with the state was complete, APS was contacted by DNR. Along with the other successful "responders" they were asked how they felt about executing on their proposal. APS, realizing the opportunity presented by locking up the contiguous state tidelands with those they already had under lease from private tideland owners, less than 300' from the owner's home, in Mason County where no permit would be needed, had a different response than the others. From notes taken by DNR their change in heart is explained, as well as their offer:
Arcadia Seafood requests the Dickenson Point site be put on hold due to local controversy, and ongoing work of the County Shoreline Hearings Board.  Arcadia point does want to lease this site "in a year or so," but feel "now is not the time."   They would consider to lease an alternate site at Arcadia Point.  The Arcadia site is part of an ownership dispute between Arcadia Point Seafood and DNR that was resolved by settlement agreement.  The site is located at Arcadia Point and fronts the proponents upland property.  Arcadia has indicated, if DNR decides it will only lease one site or the other Arcadia Point Seafood would prefer to farm the Dickenson Point site.  Regarding the lease term, Arcadia is concerned the 10 year lease will only supports a single crop cycle.  For the Dickenson Point site, the proponent proposes rent be amended from 12% of gross and $1,200 per/ac/yr. base rent to 10% and $1,000/ac/yr.  For their private leases, Arcadia pays 15% for multi cycle leases and 10% for single cycle leases; cost of managing single cycle leases is more and there for the royalty to the landowner is less.  Also, in Thurston County, cost and scope of permitting is more difficult than Mason County.  Arcadia proposes a 15% rate at the Arcadia Point site.  Also, Arcadia Point Seafood wishes to review DNR's current BMP's before agreeing to a lease.
DNR: We know you offered 15% but will you take 10.25%?
APS: You drive a hard bargain, and my wife won't be happy, but okay.
In 2015, DNR has suggested a different rate. A lower rate. On May 15 they sent their proposal to APS which included the new, lower rate. (The complete proposal sent to APS may be found here.)

4.1 Annual Minimum Base Rent. Tenant shall pay to State the annual minimum base rent in the amount of One Thousand Two Hundred and Twenty Three Dollars ($1,223.00). The annual minimum base rent shall be due and payable in full on or before the Commencement Date and on or before the same date of each year thereafter. In addition to the annual minimum base rent, Tenant shall also pay a production based rent as detailed in Section 4.2, below.
4.2 Geoduck Rent Adjustment.(a) Production Based Rent. When the Tenant commences harvest of cultured geoduck, Tenant shall pay to State, in addition to the annual minimum base rent, a quarterly Production Based Rent. The Production Based Rent shall be computed as follows: the total quarterly volume of geoduck harvested in pounds multiplied by the current average wholesale price per pound, multiplied by the royalty rate of Ten point twenty five percent (10.25%) percent.(b) Quarterly Reports and payment of Production Based Rent. At the same time Tenant submits its quarterly aquaculture production report to the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, Tenant shall submit a copy of the same report to State along with the Production Based Rent as calculated in Section 4.2(a). The quarterly aquaculture production report must include the poundage or other unit of measure and price received for geoduck harvested and sold. If Tenant makes no sales in any quarter, Tenant shall so report.
Commissioner Goldmark did not promise the shellfish industry a shellfish garden. 
Peter Goldmark was elected as the Commissioner of Public Lands in 2008 due, in part, to perceived pressures from the shellfish industry to turn over the few remaining public tidelands there are for them to grow geoduck on. In 2015, as election time ramps up, once again the shellfish industry is pressing the Commissioner directly, and indirectly through politicians, to do what people did not want in 2008 - turn those tidelands into geoduck farms, locking the public out. Commissioner Goldmark never promised the shellfish industry a shellfish garden. Especially one the state only receives 10.25% from.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Is the non-native Manila clam a "wild" clam? Federal Court says "yes" in Squaxin Tribe case.

Non-native Manila clam, introduced
by shellfish farmers' through non-native
Pacific oyster seed, becoming prevalent ~1930.
Native little neck clam, a tribal food source
for millennium before white settlers.

In a case filed by the Squaxin Island Tribe against Russ Norris with Great Northwest Oyster they claimed Mr. Norris did not notify them of his intent to begin a commercial shellfish farm on tidelands in Oakland Bay and Hammersley Inlet. Attorneys for the tribe believe notification would have allowed treaty rights to have been implemented which would have allowed the tribe 30,000 pounds of the non-native Manila clam. The court agreed Mr. Norris had violated the Squaxin Island Tribe's  rights and they were "...entitled to an equitable remedy which will establish the pounds of Manila clams it is entitled, in the future, to recover from Russ Norris." (read the court decision here)

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Hong Kong Lifts Ban on Geoduck from British Columbia

The Chinese have lifted the ban on importing of geoduck from British Columbia, put in place December of 2014 after paralytic shellfish poisoning toxin was found in a shipment received. The Center for Food Safety said in a press release the "implementation of enhanced surveillance programs and actions" has satisfied concerns.

This is now the second time Asian authorities have acted on concerns of British Columbia and Washington not inspecting shellfish to their satisfaction. Geoduck from Washington were found to have levels of arsenic above what the Chinese considered safe. The response to "not eat the skin" was unsatisfactory to them, resulting in a prolonged ban of all shellfish from the entire west coast. After additional testing being put in place they agreed to begin importing shellfish, including geoduck, again.

The lesson learned is how dependent growers are on the Chinese. Their first ban of geoduck resulted in numerous press releases from companies such as Taylor Shellfish and Seattle Shellfish about how crippling the ban was to them. Similar press releases from British Columbia were also released when the second ban was put in place.

Currently the political relationship between China and the United States is not positive. China's build up of islands in the South China Sea, if challenged, is something which may result in the Chinese simply saying we no longer need geoduck, timber, or Boeing's jets.