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:

Monday, October 31, 2016

Shellfish Economics: China is not an endless market for shellfish.

Seafood Source writes on China and a market saturated with shellfish which has driven the price of what were once considered a luxury oyster down. So significant is the decline that "...many suppliers into China have not been making profits..". Asked why the sudden increase in supply occurred, the writer notes a grower as saying: "The Irish authorities have really progressed their licensing backlog quickly and efficiently."

What is the significance? Exactly the same thing is happening in the United States. Whether on the East Coast, the West Coast, or the Gulf Coast, political pressures from the shellfish industry is resulting in a dream long sought; "streamlined" permitting which will result in an expansion of operations. But as is often the case, be careful what you wish for as it may come true. In this case, along with the sudden expansion of operations will come, as it always does, a drop in price and a lack of profitability.
Who will pay to clean up
when the market collapses?

Economic models justify the expense of plastic structures currently appearing throughout the intertidal areas and waters of the US, in fact throughout the world. When that model changes and profits are no longer there, who will be left to clean up what is left behind as growers walk away? One simply needs to look at Drakes Estero to see one answer: the taxpayers.

While the reasons are different, the decision of Drakes Bay Oyster Company to simply walk away from a failed business model and leave taxpayers to pay for the clean up of over 500 tons of aquaculture gear and 5 miles of oyster racks in order to allow the restoration of eelgrass to occur points to what to expect. [Note: To be fair, the government could have stood its ground and made DBOC pay a far larger portion than nothing.]

As seen in the article written in Seafood Source, China is not an endless market where anything produced will sell. Geoduck are not exclusive to Puget Sound, growing in Alaska and British Columbia, even Mexico. When supply exceeds demand, who will be left to clean up the PVC and mesh tubes which are proliferating throughout Puget Sound?

Monday, October 24, 2016

Oct. 25: Double Header - Pierce County (25 acre geoduck operation) and Mason County (Shoreline Master Program update)

Tuesay, October 25th, presents two significant shoreline regulation events for the public. Both occur at the same time and in different counties, one in Pierce County, the other in Mason County. Both will play large roles in determining what Puget Sound's tideland habitat supports in future generations: commercial operations or native species.

Burley Lagoon
When should "intensification" stop
and be put back in its box?

Location 1 (Pierce County/Taylor Shellfish 25 acre geoduck operation)
Peninnsula High School
14105 Purdy Drive NW
Gig Harbor, WA

In the first, Pierce County and Taylor Shellfish will present what they have been meeting about since 2014: The County's requirement* for Taylor Shellfish to develop an Environmental Impact Statement to address the significant and adverse impacts from a proposed 25 acre geoduck operation in Burley Lagoon. The public meeting will consist of an open house between 6 and 6:45, followed by a public meeting during which Taylor Shellfish and Pierce County will explain what they developed (over almost two years of meeting about the project) followed by the public being allowed to comment. [Note: Pierce County told citizens who wished to have a table for presenting information from their perspective they would not allow it.]
*The County's SEPA process found the environmental impacts significant, and concluded it should have a "Determination of Significance" requiring an EIS. Taylor says they offered to create the EIS. When asked by the press, the County said it was a mutual decision. Either way, the County has said they will be the lead agency responsible for its creation. How much Taylor directs the lead agency is unknown.
Overall, there are three alternatives which will be considered: a 25.5 acre operation; a 17 acre operation; or, continuation of manila, oyster and "scatter planted" geoduck. All 3 will consider the impacts on Burley Lagoon, currently experiencing what has been termed an "intensification" of aquaculture, beginning when Taylor Shellfish leased the tidelands from private owners. While there have been numerous disputes over whether aquaculture ever took place in the areas Taylor has expanded into, the County has allowed all to occur, except the proposed geoduck operation, with no permitting.
Mason County
How important is aquaculture?

Location 2 (Mason County's Shoreline Master Program Update)
Mason County's Building I 
Commission Chambers
411 North Fifth Street 
Shelton WA

In the second, Mason County's Shoreline Master Program Update will be presented to the County Commissioners with a recommendation they accept the update (click here for SMP information). The meeting begins at 6 with the Public Hearing portion beginning at 6:30. As with the Burley Lagoon project above, the shellfish industry has been intimately involved. In this case, development of the SMP update has had representatives from Taylor Shellfish and Arcadia Point Seafood on the Planning Advisory Commission since April of 2013.

As noted in earlier comments, Mason County's SMP update includes the following: Existing aquaculture activities include areas that are actively cultivated and/or dormant. Dormant areas include property that was acquired under the Bush or Callow acts of 1895... While Mason County has supported shellfish aquaculture in the past, this definition will open the door to aquaculture on the vast majority of tidelands sold in Mason County with apparently no county oversight or consideration to the fact that many tidelands sold for aquaculture were consequently abandoned and used instead to enhance the value of residential developments, becoming parts of upland parcels. Bulkheads, docks, accessory dwelling units, boat launches, or stairs are not afforded the same luxury.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

October 25 - Mason County: Shoreline Master Program Update to be Heard By County Commissioners

October 25, 6:30PM
411 N 5th St., Shelton
First Commissioner hearing of the Shoreline Master Program update
(Click here to view Mason County's SMP webpage, now updated and working)

A dormant volcano is still a volcano, right?

What being involved in regulatory oversight can get you - an open door to little to no oversight of aquaculture in Mason County. PVC pipe, nets, cages, bags, operations at midnight, shoreline damage from wakes of overloaded vessels, all may be given a free pass in Mason County.

Contained within the County's long delayed Shoreline Master Program update is one line in a paragraph, inserted at the last moment, with the urging of Taylor Shellfish's Bill Dewey and approved by the Planning Advisory Commission members present. They included Bill Dewey, Vicki Wilson with Aracadia Point Seafood, Kevin Shutty (currently running for County Commissioner), and Tim Duffy (now resigned from the Planning Commission).

That line reads:

Dormant areas [of aquaculture] include property that was acquired under the Bush or Callow acts of 1895;

The line is contained within the following paragraph defining what "existing aquaculture" includes, and reads:
Existing aquaculture activities include areas that are actively cultivated and/or dormant. Dormant areas include property that was acquired under the Bush or Callow acts of 1895; areas undergoing crop rotation; and areas dormant due to market conditions, seed or juvenile availability, past and current pest infestations or control issues, water quality issues, and other cultivation factors beyond the control of the operator. Existing or permitted aquaculture operations are not subject to Section 17.50.055(H), [now 17.50.120] Existing uses and Structures, and shall not be considered nonconforming or abandoned. Ongoing maintenance, harvest, replanting, restocking or changing the culture technique or species cultivated for any existing or permitted aquaculture activity shall not require shoreline review or a new permit, unless or until:...
Because the well crafted line defines "existing" as simply holding a deed to tidelands sold 100+ years ago, on which nothing has occurred, which in many cases were tidelands abandoned and made part residential developments, any form of aquaculture may be developed without requiring a permit. Is there any better example of why being involved in the political process is important?

Get involved. Tell Mason County Commissioners, current and those potentially being elected, these structures in the tidelands need permits just like any other developments along the shorelines do. Holding a deed is not the equivalent of proof that an existing activity occurred.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

October 17 - Hearing of an appeal of an environmental decision on a geoduck operation proposed by Taylor Shellfish

Update 10/14: Comments on the SEPA approval should be emailed to protectzanglecove@gmail.com for submission at Monday's hearing. Get involved.

Thurston County: Zangle Cove

October 17 a hearing on an appeal of an environmental decision approving a geoduck operation in Puget Sound's environmentally sensitive Zangle Cove will be held. The hearing begins at 10AM with legal presentations taking place between 10 and 2, and public comments scheduled for 3 [Note: Meetings sometimes run longer, sometimes shorter.] The examiner will hear from attorneys representing those who feel the decision did not fully consider all of the environmental impacts this operation will have and attorneys who feel there is no problem with the continued expansion of PVC tubes in Puget Sound.

Location: Heritage Hall, Expo Center - 3054 Carpenter Rd SE, Lacey
(Agenda and map of hearing's location may be found here: 
Full information on the permit and documents submitted may be found here:
Comments may be mailed to: peterscs@co.thurston.wa.us 
or to Thurston County Commissioners: http://www.co.thurston.wa.us/bocc/

For additional information and how you can help, see:

Monday, October 10, 2016

Burley Lagoon: Pierce County Issues Decision on Taylor Shellfish 25 acre Geoduck Farm

Burley Lagoon's marine habitat 
should not be converted to
an industrial operation.

Pierce County has issued a Public Notice on its decision regarding a proposal by Taylor Shellfish to populate 25.5 acres in Burley Lagoon with over 1,000,000 PVC or mesh tubes, possibly covered with predator nets, needed in order to grow geoduck for the Chinese market. A "determination of significance" was issued due to the probable adverse impacts from an operation of such magnitude in an enclosed body of water. As a result an Environmental Impact Statement will be required. Pierce County is asking for comments on the scope of coverage by November 8 (click here for Public Notice and instructions on how to submit comments).

A 25 acre transformation of critical
marine habitat - for China.
Good for China. Bad for Puget Sound.