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, 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 ]