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, January 28, 2017

Illnesses from Raw Oysters Consumed at Taylor Shellfish's Queen Anne "Oyster Bar" Reported by King County

Illnesses traced to raw oysters
consumed at Queen Anne location.

King County Public Health has reported illnesses traced to raw oysters consumed at Taylor Shellfish's Queen Anne, Seattle, location. The "norovirus-like symptoms" were reported to King County Public Health on January 9th and traced back to raw oysters consumed on January 4th. An investigation of the restaurant on the 11th eventually confirmed the raw oysters consumed there as the source. The press release notifying the public was dated January 27th.

Many bacterium and virus may cause "norovirus-like" symptoms, some more so than others. Consumers whose immune systems are suppressed should be especially aware of the risks inherent in consuming raw seafood. Warming water temperatures, some believe tied to man-caused global warming, will increase the likelihood of  different Vibrio strains and blooms in Puget Sound which oysters' natural filtering retain during the summer months.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Monterey Bay Aquarium Drops Commercially Farmed Geoduck from Green "Best Choice" Category

Commercial Geoduck 
from Washington
Loses Certification

Commercially Farmed Geoduck From Washington Lose Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch "Best Choice" Certification
Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch has dropped commercially farmed geoduck from their green "Best Choice" category due to a "...heavy reliance on plastic tubing to protect growing geoduck clams, and a better understanding of the ecosystem impacts of this practice is needed." It was a move long in coming and a welcomed recognition that this form of aquaculture is, in fact, transformative to the tidelands of Puget Sound in which it is taking place. (Note: Taylor still notes geoduck as being a "Best Choice" on their website.)

Is "Farmed Responsibly" the same?
From one to the next.
Without Monterey Bay Aquarium's certification showing that commercially farmed geoduck grown in Washington's Puget Sound is a sustainable "Best Choice", Taylor Shellfish has now sought, and achieved, a certification of "farmed responsibly" from another body, the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC). As with all standards bodies and their associated certifications, differences exist, and the two certifications are not equivalent.

Benchmarking ASC versus Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch
In a 2012 evaluation of other certification bodies, ASC Bivalve (clam) standards did not meet the green, "Best Choice" level of Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Choice. Below is the result from Monterey Bay's "Eco-certification Benchmarking Project" (page 7) which compared other certification bodies to Monterey Bay's Seafood Watch.
[Note: The ASC 'Bivalve Standard' used for certification was 'Version 1, dated January of 2012'. This was a certification standard which Bill Dewey, with Taylor Shellfish, played a direct role in developing.]
ASC versus Monetery Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch (click to enlarge)

In addition to ASC, the other certification body which Taylor Shellfish also used, the Food Alliance, while higher than ASC, was still not able to achieve the "Best Choice" level of certification.

Food Alliance versus Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch

Does it really matter? It should.
When testimony is given to Hearing Examiners about certifications to support permit applications, it should matter. At Tuesday's hearing for a geoduck farm permit in Puget Sound's Zangle Cove, Diane Cooper with Taylor Shellfish testified that all of their farms had been certified as being "sustainable" by ASC. Initially, Ms. Cooper was confused about what ASC stood for, telling the examiner it stood for "Aquaculture Sustainability Certification". She later corrected the description of what ASC actually stood for (Aquaculture Stewardship Council), but not that ASC only certified farms as being "responsible", not sustainable (from ASC's website: "ASC aims to be the world's leading certification and labelling programme [sic] for responsibly farmed seafood.")
(Hear Ms. Cooper discuss what she thought ASC stood for, here, at 20:28)

Moving aquaculture towards truly sustainable practices is a goal which all should support. Why a company moves from one certification body to another is something which should be looked at closely, whether you are a consumer or an agency listening to testimony. In this case, that Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch has dropped commercially farmed geoduck from Washington from their green, "Best Choice" certification category, should not be masked by achieving certification from another body.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Reminder: January 17 - Hearing on Zangle Cove Geoduck Operation in Zangle Cove

Zangle Cove Hearing Continued to Tuesday, January 17, 2017 at 10 a.m.
Thurston County Courthouse 
Building One, Room 152

Who is that "recreating" over my geoduck farm
and why are they "recreating" there?
Diane Cooper of Taylor Shellfish:
Clear evidence you can "recreate" over a geoduck farm.
(Exhibit submitted by shellfish attorneys in hearing.)

Better bring lunch and dinner to eat. 
The appeal of Thurston County's "Mitigated Determinatin of Non-significance" (MDNS) for a geoduck operation in the ecologically sensitive Zangle Cove, whose tidelands were not sold as being suitable for aquaculture, and the associated Shoreline Substantial Development Permit, continues January 17. Based on an email from the Hearing Examiner, it may be a marathon, stretching into the night, noting parties should "... arrange to be available into the evening as late as necessary." Bring food for the body.

Mental food for thought from a recently published court decision the shellfish industry attempted to prevent being published.
Appeals Court of Washington:
The SHB [Shorelines Hearings Board] concluded the permit did not appropriately balance statewide interests and was inconsistent with RCW 90.58.020

The SMA [Shoreline Management Act] is liberally construed "to give full effect to the objectives and purposes for which it was enacted." RCW 90.58.900. The essential purpose of the SMA is to protect the shorelines of the state because they are "among the most valuable and fragile of its natural resources." RCW90.58.020. Permitted shoreline uses must be designed and conducted in a manner that minimizes damage to the ecology, damage to the environment, and interference with the public's use of Washington's water. RCW 90.58.020.

Shorelines Hearings Board: There is more to the Shoreline Management Act than aquaculture.
" particular consideration must be given to balancing the interests of aquaculture as one statewide interest, with other statewide interests like the shoreline's ecological values and the public's recreational use"

Friday, January 13, 2017

DOE on Net Pen Fish Farming in Washington: After 30 years it's time we re-visited it.

Comment period extended to March 4
Email Cedar Bouta with DOE at: cedar.bouta@ecy.wa.gov
See: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/sea/aquaculture/recommendations.html

Should permit decisions on salmon net pen
farming be based on guidance from a 30 year old plan?

A 30 year management plan on salmon net pen farming is finally going to be updated - after most counties on Puget Sound have been told their Shoreline Master Programs must accommodate net pen aquaculture. Is this really guidance or accommodation of an industry's desire to exploit Puget Sound's critical marine habitat for their benefit?

Yes, a lot can happen in 30 years.
Genetic modification is only one thing.

Have another meeting, write another email, give me some new guidance. Or not.
DOE notes they hope to have a new plan by 2019. A date after which which permits have been issued under the 30 year old management plan DOE used to tell counties this activity was in the state wide interest and must be allowed. This is the same DOE who decided not to discuss PVC tubes in their SMP Handbook, Chapter 16, with Ms. Bouta writing in an email dated June 17, 2015, to DOE's Perry Lund, "...I'm hesitant to include guidance on PVC tubes in the Aquaculture SMP Handbook chapter...". After whatever meetings took place, it was decided to leave mention of PVC tubes out of the chapter on Aquaculture, presented by DOE to counties to use in their program planning process.

Puget Sound's low salinity
keeps Sea Lice from being a problem.
(DOE's Lori Levander in 2013)
Near Olympia, about as far south as you can get,
Sea Lice have no problem surviving.

Net Pen science likely discovers risks to wild salmon and marine habitat over 30 years time. But let's wait until the SMP updates are completed and we've told counties these pens are in the "statewide interest" so should be permitted.
Ecology is replacing the state’s 30-year old management recommendations for commercial marine finfish aquaculture (net pens). Why the Department of Ecology decided to wait until most of the counties impacted by what an updated plan would reveal isn't made clear. Unfortunately, as noted above, by the time a new "plan" is created, new operations will have been permitted and will likely never go away.
Politics at its best: Industry and DOE 
hand in hand, testifying before the House
on why net pen farming is good for you (2013)
Net pen farming is good for you
if you're a fish grower, questionable by others.
(CLICK HERE for testimony which begins at 22:50
through 1:01:43, then begins again at 1:04:39 to 1:59:00)

Is it any wonder people question who the Department of Ecology is really working for?
After allowing Whatcom County to ban salmon net pens in their Shoreline Master Program update, then telling Jefferson County "oops, we made a mistake" and Jefferson County could not ban them in their SMP update, then telling Island County they would be able to ban them due to a "...lack of evidence that net pens are an immediately foreseeable use", and having told other counties in the process of updating their Shoreline Master Programs net pen farming is in "the statewide interest" and should be allowed, Washington's Department of Ecology has now decided their 30 year old management plan should be updated with current science. Science which may have been found to be very useful in determining whether, in fact, net pen farming is really something in the statewide interest, or instead, in the interest of a few large corporations seeking to exploit Puget Sound's critical marine habitat. Orchestrated testimony before a House committee by net pen industry representatives with DOE on net pen farming clearly puts in question who is pulling what strings.

Get involved. As seen in the 2013 testimony, industry is and they are very motivated.
At the very least you may send comment to DOE on what a new and updated plan should include. Better is to tell DOE and your elected officials they have so badly managed their net pen guidance that no permitting in any counties should be allowed until the new plan is developed.

Governor Inslee: https://fortress.wa.gov/es/governor/
Legislative and Congressional contacts:

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Washington Court of Appeals Agrees to Publish Decision Supporting Permit Denial of Geoduck Operation

The Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat has released a statement about the Washington Court of Appeals agreeing to publish their decision which affirmed a Shorelines Hearings Board permit denial for a geoduck operation in Pierce County. Despite immense sums of money having been spent by the shellfish industry for attorneys, expert witnesses, and even political donations in support of a Pierce County attorney running for mayor of Gig Harbor, and a final attempt by the industry to claim the decision had little in the way of public interest, the panel of judges agreed to publish their ruling.
Read decision in support of denying permit here:
Read decision agreeing to publish here:

Dear Interested Parties,
The Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat is pleased to announce that the Washington State Court of Appeals has granted our motion to publish the Detienne Shoreline Hearings Board win that will serve to protect our marine critical habitat, eelgrass, forage fish, the public's right for safe recreation/windsurfing and the need for cumulative impacts analysis..

The Washington State Court of Appeals, Division 1 decision affirmed the Shorelines Hearings Board (SHB) decision to deny the 5 acre geoduck aquaculture permit in Henderson Bay/Pierce County.  The Court of Appeals stated: 

1.  "We conclude the SHB did not err in concluding the Coalition met its burden of proving the permit buffers did not adequately protect eelgrass from adverse impacts in violation of the SMA (Shoreline Management Act) and Pierce County SMP (Shoreline Master Program).".. The Coalition relied on the FSEIS buffer to argue the buffers approved by the Hearing Examiner were inadequate. The FSEIS identifies the need for a "2-foot vertical buffer or a minimum of 180-foot horizontal buffer" between eelgrass and geoduck harvest areas to protect eelgrass."

"The SHB found that while Meaders (industry expert) "is knowledgeable of the geoduck industry and science underlying aspects of industry practices," she was not "a credible expert in all aspects of study related to the nearshore environment to which she claimed expertise."

2. "Evidence presented at the hearing showed there are potential adverse impacts to critical habitat."

3.  "Because the consideration of a cumulative impact analysis prior to approval of the permit is consistent with the purpose of the SMA and clearly furthers the goal of the SMA to prevent "uncoordinated and piecemeal development,"the SHB did not err in concluding consideration should be given to preparing a cumulative impacts analysis."

4.  "De Tienne contends the SHB decision is not timely..... Because de Tienne stipulated to consolidation of the petition he filed on June 28, 2013 and there is no dispute the SHB extended the time period for good cause for an additional 30 days, the SHB complied with the time limits of the statute."

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

Laura Hendricks
Director, Coalition To Protect Puget Sound/Habitat
(253) 509-4987