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:

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Memorial Day Weekend Brings Good Weather and Lowest Tides in Years

Get out and see what's happening at low tide.

This coming Memorial Day Weekend's weather is forecast to be sunny and warm. Along with the weather will come the lowest daytime tides Puget Sound has seen in years. In the table below is the anticipated weather and the low tides for the day (tides and time are at Olympia).

For other locations in Puget Sound, visit NOAA's web site. Below is an example for McMicken Island for the dates of May 26, 27, 28 and 29. 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

May 21: Association of Bainbridge Communities Environmental Conference on Industrial Aquaculture Impacts

Is this what Puget Sound's intertidal
ecosystem should become?

The Association of Bainbridge Communities' Annual Environmental Conference discusses the current and future impacts to Puget Sound ecosystems from industrial aquaculture.
(Note: The conference is free. However, due to space limitations, registration is required.)

Register herehttps://www.eventbrite.com/e/changing-the-nature-of-puget-sound-the-impacts-of-industrial-aquaculture-registration-30991093194
May 21, 12:30 pm to 5:30 pm
Where: 4450 Blakely Ave NE, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110
Weather: 🌞A good excuse to take a trip to Bainbridge Island.
The Association of Bainbridge Communities' annual Environmental Conference will cover the impacts to Puget Sound from industrial aquaculture. From the announcement:
"Speakers for this regional conference will cover ecosystem impacts, science and policy of aquaculture, legal aspects of the industry, food safety and health issues, problems with Atlantic salmon netpens, and experiences of neighbors living with this industry on their shorelines."
12:30 pm - Registration/Exhibits at IslandWood Welcome Center
1:00 pm - Introduction to Conference
1:10 pm - Overview of Impacts of Industrial Aquaculture
1:30 pm - Dispelling the Myths of Aquaculture
2:05 pm - Legal Aspects including Shellfish Initiative
2:35 pm - Regulatory Gaps in Permitting
3:00 pm - BREAK to visit exhibits
3:20 pm - Specific Aquaculture Topics: Atlantic Salmon Feedlots and Spraying and Health Issues
4:20 pm - Panel of Puget Sound Homeowners impacted by Industrial Aquaculture
5:20 pm - Next Steps: getting involved
5:30 pm - Adjournment

It's time for Governor Inslee 
to think of more than free oysters.

(Credit: Scott Terrell, Skagit Valley Herald)

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Source of Norovirus in Puget Sound: Shellfish Grower Says "Too Much Poop" in Puget Sound Making Shellfish Unsafe

Whose poop is to blame?

South Sound Mariculture Oyster
Declared unsafe.*

Time to consider oysters grown on the East Coast for now?
Tacoma's The News Tribune writes about a Puget Sound shellfish grower saying there is too much "poop" in Puget Sound causing oysters grown there to be unsafe to eat. John Hansen, owner of South Sound Mariculture, has spoken before both the City of Shelton's City Commission and Mason County Commissioners. There, he expressed his belief that the source of norovirus which caused his and other shellfish farms in south Puget Sound's Hammersley Inlet to be closed, is the City's waste water treatment plant. That plant discharges directly into Oakland Bay and Hammersley Inlet. The City of Shelton strongly disagrees with Mr. Hansen's claim.

Humans aren't the only mammals
increasing in population around Puget Sound.

Whose poop is it that the oysters are filtering and in turn making humans sick?
Through the shellfish growers, focus is being placed on septic systems and, in the case of Mr. Hansen, the City of Shelton's waste water treatment plant as being the source of norovirus his and other's oysters are contaminated with. However, norovirus is not limited to humans, and humans are not the only mammal increasing in population in or around Puget Sound, a point noted by Tristan Baurick in 2016, who wrote, "...the harbor porpoise is making a startling comeback after a nearly complete disappearance from local waters more than 40 years ago." More to the point, a January 2017 paper published by the Center for Disease Control notes:
"...the fact that noroviruses infecting marine mammals closely related to human noroviruses have been found infecting harbor porpoises and contaminating oysters raises the question of whether HPNV could infect humans through contamination of oysters or other shellfish."
He did it! No, it was her! Not me, it was him! 
Porpoise are not the only mammals
making their presence known.

Norovirus in northwest shellfish was not limited to Hammersley Inlet, but covered a wide geographic area.
This year, the number of illnesses contracted through the consumption of northwest oysters was not limited to Hammersley Inlet and numbered in the multiple hundreds. This was considered to be a widespread outbreak, ranging from Willapa Bay in the south to the waters of British Columbia*. After months of trying, the source, despite Mr. Hansen's belief, is still not known. In fact, given the wide geographic area and multiple shellfish operations implicated, it seems more likely the disease is being spread through means other than the City of Shelton's waste water treatment plant or on site septic systems. Whether the wide ranging pods of porpoises, sea lions, or even Orca are the source is not known, but cannot be discounted.
*The article in The Globe and Mail on oyster illnesses from British Columbia also notes in a short clip at the end the Humpback Whale population increasing from 6,000 to 21,000 since 1993. Shown is a drone capturing "whale snot" being exhaled to test for pathogens.
Send in the Orca to clean up the mess.
But don't they "poop" too? 

Half baked ideas are as bad as half cooked oysters contaminated with norovirus.
Before agencies chase ghosts attempting to make waters clean enough for shellfish growers to make (quoting Mr. Hansen) "$10,000 per month" from his small tideland parcel, they should first confirm just exactly what the source of the problem is. If they are wrong, and illnesses continue, the east coast shellfish growers will be able to take market share which will be very difficult to re-acquire. 

Is a drainfield this close to 
a shellfish farm a good idea
if you're worried about norovirus?
Does that green grass
in August
indicate anything?

Edited May 10: The Department of Health has declared portions of Hammersley Inlet open to commercial harvesting again. (see below - red/brown closed)

City of Shelton 
Portions of Oakland Bay and Hammersley Inlet

Edited May 11: The Department of Health has declared the area at the end of SE Mell Road open to commercial harvesting. Portions of the north shore and west end where the waste water treatment plant discharges into Oakland Bay and Hammersley Inlet remain closed.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Thurston County Commissioners Hear Appeal of Geoduck Operation Permit Approval

[Edited: Regarding the point made that Thurston County is not considering the larger picture - In addition to the 10 acre Chelsea operation noted below, Geoducks Unlimited has been issued a SEPA determination by Thurston County for another geoduck farm. Comments on the Mitigated Determination of Non-significance decision were due May 5. Appeal deadline is May 12. Geoducks Unlimited is operated by Gregory Reub, a scientist with Environ and previously Entrix, which created much of the foundation on which the perception that geoduck operations have minimal impacts is based on. During his involvement with Environ he operated another geoduck operation nearby. The current project description may be found by clicking here.]

On May 3, Thurston County Commissioners heard an appeal of the approval of a shoreline permit for a geoduck operation in Zangle Cove. Historically, this cove has never been used for industrial aquaculture, with tidelands sold by the state as being unsuitable for aquaculture. Recently, a property owner and Taylor Shellfish proposed an industrial geoduck operation within these tidelands, which Thurston County approved a permit for. One of the Commissioners recused himself due to prior contact with parties involved. Should the other two be unable to agree on a decision he will step in to break the tie.

Appellants presented to the Commissioners testimony on eel grass restoration efforts taking place by the Department of Natural Resources and impacts to safety and aesthetics by those opposed to the operation. It was stressed by appellants that the Shoreline Management Act does not give aquaculture priority or overriding preference to use of the shorelines, but is only one of may uses. It was also pointed out there are minimal benefits to growing geoduck, whether it be in the form of tax revenues or long term jobs, whereas recreational benefits are significant through such things as property taxes paid and taxes received on revenue from the rental of water craft for recreational use. Appellants summarized by saying that while aquaculture has a place in Washington, that place is not in Zangle Cove.

Of unique significance, a question by one of the Commissioners asked about the county's awareness - or lack thereof - of current and proposed geoduck operations in Thurston County. The appellant suggested that at a minimum, without permitting of all geoduck operations by the county, there is no way to know what sort of an overall impacts Thurston County's tidelands and waters are experiencing.
[Note: It was recently announced that Chelsea Sea Farms is proposing a 10 acre geoduck operation in Gallagher Cove. This farm's application was submitted to county staff on November 10 of last year, two months before the final hearing but was never mentioned by county staff. Information on that application is found on the Department of Ecology's SEPA website by clicking here.]
In response, applicants stressed the perceived importance of aquaculture over all other uses of waters and tidelands. They pointed out these were private tidelands, the eel grass present is a great distance from the proposed farm, a great deal of science has been created showing there is minimal impact to the environment, and that as proposed, industry's "best management practises" will mitigate other concerns. Finally, they stressed the SMA does not require a cumulative impacts analysis. [It should be noted a recent decision did affirm that in some cases a cumulative impacts analysis should be considered.] They concluded by noting the overwhelming number of comments are in opposition to the project and approval of the permit, but that is not a reason to deny the permit.

Testimony before the commissioners may be heard here:

Letters and comments in opposition, as well as other exhibits, may be found on Thurston County's website, here:

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Our Sound, Our Salmon Campaign to Protect Puget Sound from Net Pen Farming

The Wildfish Conservancy has begun a campaign to protect Puget Sound and its native species from the inherent risks associated with net pen salmon farming under the banner of "Our Sound, Our Salmon." 
[To read more about the risks from net pen farming, see the Wildfish Conservancy page by clicking here.]

Current Icicle Seafoods Operations
It sounds so good.
What cold go wrong?

Expansion of an industrial level of activity is being planned for by corporate entities such as Cooke Aquaculture, and its subsidiary Icicle Seafoods, involved in raising these non-native Atlantic salmon in Puget Sound. Large sums of money are poured into the creation of scientific studies which minimize the impacts, such as the dead zones beneath theses enclosed pens. Industry's response is to simply say, "We'll move the pens." Moving the operation to a nearby location does little to eliminate the fact that a dead zone was created. Placing pens where "strong tidal surges" occur is little more than a form of the "dilution is the solution" philosophy which is premised on simply spreading the impact over a larger area.  It should not be accepted as "mitigation" to the very real impacts to Puget Sound's critical marine ecosystem.

More to the picture than meets the eye.
"Sea lice can't grow in Puget Sound."
Yes they can and yes they do.
(Sea-run Cutthroat, south Puget Sound)

In addition to the dead zones created beneath these salmon net farms are the impacts resulting from concentrated populations of species. Whether salmon, shellfish, or people, a concentrated population creates a vector for parasites, bacteria and virus to spread from. (For more on fish farms being "disease accelerators" read Hakai's Coastal Science and Societies article, presenting two viewpoints.)  Sea lice are one of the largest risks to native salmon and native sea run cutthroat. Like a kindergarten class where one child's illness quickly spreads to the others and beyond, so too does illness in salmon net pens, whether in the form of parasites such as sea lice or bacterial and viral infections. Use of antibiotics may contain an illness within the pen for a time, but the marine environment is not static, and any addition to the waters spreads with the currents, raising the risk of resistant bacteria spreading. Further, the spread of viral infections (not controllable by antibiotics) beyond the pens to native salmon is very real is happening in Canada. (For reported Heart Skeletal muscle inflammation disease - HSMI - spreading within net pens in British Columbia, see here.)  As noted on the Wildfish Conservancy website discussing risks associated with disease:
The list of common outbreaks includes Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA), Piscine Reo-virus (PRV), Infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNV), Viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHSV), Vibrio salmonicida, and Renibacterium
Get involved. Help the Our Sound, Our Salmon campaign protect Puget Sound. The waters of Puget Sound belong to everyone, not a select group of corporations who see the waters and tidelands as little more than something to profit off of. The letter below may be endorsed by clicking here. The future health of Puget Sound depends on it.

Tell Governor Inslee to Protect Our Sound and Our Salmon from Atlantic Salmon Net Pens

Governor Jay Inslee
Office of the Governor
PO Box 40002
Olympia, WA 98504-0002
Governor Inslee, 
We are writing to express both our love for Puget Sound as well as our grave concerns about the proposed expansion of Atlantic salmon net pens in Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. We respectfully request that you stop the expansion of this destructive industry in Washington's waters.

Puget Sound is the lifeblood of our region. It is where we take our children to play and teach them about the wonders of nature. It is where businesses and families continue Washington’s rich history of nourishing ourselves with Puget Sound's salmon, shellfish, forage fish, rockfish, crabs, shrimp, and prawns. It is also home for many of our iconic animals such as orcas, porpoises, otters, and all five species of salmon. We cannot risk all of that to benefit an international corporation that will pollute our Sound with harmful waste, invasive species, deadly parasites, and lethal viruses that infect our wild salmon.
We know you understand the value of Puget Sound and its salmon because you have dedicated hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to support their recovery and management. Rather than supporting the expansion of an industry that will undo that great work, we encourage you to stop the expansion of Atlantic salmon net pens in Washington. We encourage you to join California, Oregon, and Alaska, which all banned Atlantic salmon net pens to protect their salmon and the health of their waters. Additionally, we encourage you to support the development of strong, legally enforceable science-based regulations for the existing Atlantic salmon net pens, not merely toothless recommendations like we have today.

Puget Sound and the fish that swim in its waters belong to the people of Washington. We care deeply about the wellbeing of the Sound and its salmon, and we want these resources protected so our children and their children can enjoy them. Our Sound, our salmon, and our future are far too important to put in the hands of an industry with a long history of negative environmental, social, and economic impacts everywhere it operates.  

We urge you to continue your work protecting Puget Sound and its salmon by stopping the expansion of Atlantic salmon net pens. This decision is in your hands - please protect our Sound, our salmon, and our future. 
Thank you for your consideration.

Monday, May 1, 2017

May 3, 10:30 AM - Appeal To Thurston County Commissioners Against Geoduck Operation in Zangle Cove

May 3, 10:30 AM - Appellants and applicants will each have 15 minutes to present their cases against and for the permit having been issued.

Thurston County Commissioners will hear an appeal by those who oppose the approval of a shoreline permit for a geoduck operation proposed to be operated by Taylor Shellfish in Zangle Cove. Those opposed believe the county did not fully consider the impacts from this operation.

The hearing will involve comments from the Appellants (Patrick and Kathryn Townsend, and Anneke Jensen) and will last for a maximum of 15 minutes. The Applicants (Pacific Northwest Aquaculture, Mr. Changmook Sohn) will have 15 minutes to respond if they choose to do so.

Here is the address:
Thurston County Courthouse
Building Number 1
Room 280
2000 Lakeridge Drive SW
Olympia, WA 98502

Note: Parking at the county complex can be difficult. There is public parking available near Building 1, and street parking close by. Arriving a little early is always a good idea.