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, October 28, 2017

Pesticides in Willapa Bay: It's not about bees. It's about Willapa Bay's aquatic ecosystem and native marine invertebrates, the very foundation of the food chain.

Comments due November 1

Reminder: Comments on the proposal to apply the neurotoxic pesticide Imidacloprid to shellfish beds in Willapa Bay are due by November 1. 
You may submit comments here: http://ws.ecology.commentinput.com/?id=aefUM
(Alternatively, you may say you support the comment letter from the Coastal Watershed Institute found here: https://commentinput.com/attachments/projectID_1001/10063/merged//12829.pdf)
(Or, you may say you support the comment letter from Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides, found on The Coastodian's site, herehttps://coastodian.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/comment-letter-oyster-imidacloprid-proposal-SEIS-2017_updated-1.pdf)

Willapa Bay is not a template for shellfish growers to profit from. It's time for them to step back.

Anthropogenic Extinction
of a Native Oyster

Native oyster, native habitat, gone.
In the mid-1800's one of the great anthropogenic acts of extinction began in Willapa Bay. An estimated 27% of Willapa Bay was originally covered with native Olympia oyster. By 1920 that population, whose beds were estimated to have been as dense as 116 oysters per square meter, were all but gone, a direct result of overharvesting. After the shellfish industry first stripped the more easily harvested intertidal and low subtidal areas, they then convinced politicians in 1899 they should be allowed to dredge the remaining subtidal population. Shortly after that point, the native population of Olympia oyster, likely genetically distinct to Willapa Bay, were all but gone. Thanks to little more than the goal of short sighted profits by the shellfish industry.

Bring in the nonnatives, spray the invasives (as defined by the shellfish industry)
Left with nothing more than empty tidelands the shellfish growers, instead of restoring the native Olympia oyster, attempted to introduce the nonnative Eastern oyster. Shipped by rail and packed in Spartina, it was a failure after mass die-offs. What didn't die-off was Spartina. Considered a beneficial plant on the east coast because of its ability to stabilize soils in the nearshore environment and habitat it provided, shellfish growers considered it an invasive species. Through political lobbying they were able to get approved one of the largest herbicidal spraying operations in a marine environment. While successful in minimizing Spartina, its sediment retention properties were lost, resulting in dispersal of sediments previously held in place throughout Willapa Bay.

If at first you don't succeed - try again. And strip ownership of tidelands from those who made it succeed.
After the failure of the Eastern oyster, Willapa Bay shellfish growers turned to the nonnative Japanese Pacific oyster.  Growers from Japan had been successfully importing and growing the Pacific oyster privately owned tidelands since 1905. Until "passage by a State Legislature of a law (1922) restricting the ownership of lands by aliens, [when] the Japanese Company was forced out of business" (from "The Immigrant Oyster", a history of how the nonnative Pacific oyster came to be introduced and cultured in Washington's waters). At that point, after the failure of the Eastern oyster, the nonnative Pacific oyster was what was grown. 

Bring in the nonnatives, spray the invasives. Part 2.
Along with the nonnative Pacific oyster imported from Japan, also came the nonnative Japanese eelgrass. As with Spartina, in Japan this species of eelgrass is considered beneficial in the habitat and food provided to aquatic and avian species. But, as with Spartina, shellfish growers here considered it to be a "noxious weed." Shellfish growers successfully convinced the Noxious Weed Board to classify Japanese eelgrass as a "noxious weed" which in turn led to approval spraying Imazamox, an herbicide, into Willapa Bay in order to more easily grow nonnative Manila clams and nonnative Pacific oysters.

Kill off the natives with pesticides so nonnatives can grow.
Now, shellfish growers believe it is time to remove a native species, the burrowing shrimp. Growers claim the burrowing shrimp is spreading throughout the bay, making their tidelands too soft to grow nonnative shellfish on. And with the removal of the burrowing shrimp, any other aquatic invertebrate in the area, making up the very base of the food chain in Willapa Bay. The shellfish growers' response? It helps the population to kill them off. (Dick Sheldon, October 10, before the Department of Ecology) 

Willapa Bay needs a new chef. It's not a "chemical soup" and not a profit template.
It's time for shellfish growers to be told to step aside. Their short sighted actions have done little more than transform what had been a bay whose tidelands were populated with native Olympia oysters in densities unimaginable today. Their short sighted actions have introduced multiple nonnative species into a thriving ecosystem which has done nothing more than create what Washington's attorney general described as "the chemical soup that was the bay." A chemical soup created by chefs who call themselves shellfish growers. 

Get involved. Industrial aquaculture is transforming Washington's marine ecosystems. Aquaculture can be done, within reason. But just because it is "aquaculture" should not mean it can do what it wants, where it wants, however it wants.

Comments due November 1. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

It's Just Beginning: Mason County Tideland Owner Complains of Higher Valuations - Thank Taylor Shellfish and Mason County's Shoreline Master Program

[Update: The individual complaining of her tideland parcel increasing in value should have said 2,600 percent, not 26,000 percent. The appraised value increase from $1,600 to ~$43,000. In comparison, Taylor Shellfish's parcel in Hammersley Inlet which has been a commercial geoduck operation for over a decade only increased in value from $1,230 to ~$4,000. It is not clear why a parcel with a commercial operation increased so little in comparison to a parcel on which the owner has only expressed interest in starting a farm, and is in an area which the Department of Health closes during heavy rainfall.]


Be careful what you wish for. 
Because now you've got it
and now you can pay for it.
$43,000* [corrected] because Taylor Shellfish
convinced the county to include in its SMP update
that the majority of tidelands owned are presumed
to be for commercial shellfish operations.

This commercial tideland parcel is worth far more than $1,600 and should pay far more than $17/year in taxes. You wanted it, you got it.
The Mason County Assessor's office has received a complaint of tidelands valued at what the owner claims is "an increase of 26,000* percent." [In fact, the increase was 2,600%.]  Another parcel owned by the same person is claimed to have "increased 64,000 percent." Assuming those numbers are correct [the former was not], the former ~4 acres of tidelands (seen in the map above) increased in value to $43,000 [corrected]. Unreasonable? Not if you intend on commercially growing geoduck, a multi-million dollar return every 5 years, or even oysters. Even if you simply own tidelands as "open space" with no intention of ever commercially growing shellfish on them, the county may think otherwise.

Upland property owners get to pay
to support shellfish growers.
Then listen to them complain
when their tideland tax parcels
are assessed at their true value.

Shellfish Protection Districts: Upland taxpayers pay so shellfish growers are able to grow shellfish in public waters on tidelands undervalued by any standard.
Both tideland parcels are owned in McLane Cove, off of Pickering Passage, which was declared a Shellfish Protection District (SPD) by Mason County in July of 2016. Notes from a meeting held in February of 2016 state this property owner noted her family was a "past commercial shellfish grower." Notes from that same meeting note her interest in growing shellfish, with Jim Hayes of Hood Canal Oyster Company doing the growing. There is no question the intent is for these tidelands to be put to commercial use, that they were used in the past for commercial use, but that is exactly what this tideland owner complains about - the Assessor's Office determining their true value if a commercial shellfish operation is taking place, or may take place. And, as noted above, even if she hadn't played her hand in February of 2016, because of Taylor Shellfish's involvement in the SMP update, virtually all tidelands may be considered as "commercial" and assessed/taxed as such.

Which tidelands are commercial? 
Taylor Shellfish has defined that
through their involvement 
in the Shoreline Master Program update.
All Bush Callow tidelands are commercial
as well as all tidelands which are "fallow"
including those in McLane Cove.

The tideland grab in Mason County.
As Mason County's Shoreline Master Program update evolved, it became obvious the primary driver in its development was the shellfish industry's desire to expand as much as possible with as little oversight as possible. Representatives from Arcadia Point Seafood and Taylor Shellfish were instrumental in drafting regulations - or lack thereof - which resulted in virtually all tidelands in Mason County being considered "existing shellfish operations." As such, no permits were needed and unlike upland barbecues, any structure related to aquaculture were allowed.  Those sold as Bush Callow tidelands had to be shown to be "abandoned" in order to fall out of the "existing" category. The remaining tidelands simply needed to be shown as being"fallow", a loose definition which virtually anyone could claim. Including the County Assessor. Coupled with not caring about "structures" used for aquaculture, it was the largest land grab obtained through the twisting of the Shoreline Management Act ever seen. And the Department of Ecology simply sat back, went along for the ride, and approved it.

Get involved. If you're not, what has occurred in Mason County will occur in any SMP update or amended update.
The Department of Ecology accepting the shellfish industry's definition of "existing" operations in Mason County will not stay in Mason County. Any shoreline county can now have tidelands defined as Mason County did, creating something from nothing. Then county residents can listen to tideland owners whose tidelands are re-assessed as a commercial operation complain about it. Taylor Shellfish is involved. It's why their tidelands are assessed so low. Others whose aren't should consider that.

Email the Department of Revenue's Marilyn O'Connell: lyno@dor.wa.gov
Tell her that it's time for tidelands with commercial shellfish operations to taxes based on the true value of their tidelands, not the current undervalued numbers. The Department of Revenue can tell county assessors to do so. 

Politics pays - Taxes on Taylor Shellfish
11 acres growing geoduck? 
$28 in 2017.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Pesticide Support from Willapa Bay Shellfish Growers: "No other way."

Shellfish growers testify 
there is no other alternative to
spraying pesticides on 
Willapa Bay shellfish beds.

Willapa Bay's public water are more than something to grow oysters in.
"My great great great grand father helped drive Willapa Bay's native population of Olympia oysters to near extinction. Let me help destroy the rest of the native species by spraying pesticides onto the shellfish beds." And pretend to be growing oysters in "pristine waters". Then wonder why nobody wants to buy shellfish grown in Willapa Bay.

Companies die when people are lazy
and unable to adapt to the changing environment.
It's time for these old timers to step aside.

It's not a vacation, it's a business, and you have to adapt to succeed.
Willapa Bay shellfish growers are blinded by their belief they are unable to adapt to a changing environment and that it is the environment they must change. Old timers say this is the way we are going to do it because there is no other way. It's time for the old timers to take their blinders off and adapt, or step aside. Willapa Bay's ecosystem is not theirs to destroy because it's easier to make a profit that way.

If you can build this 
you can learn how to grow oysters
with other methods.

Times in Willapa Bay are changing.
The waters around you have grown.
Better start swimming 
or you'll sink like a stone.

Get involved. Tell DOE they do not have enough studies to support putting Imidacloprid on Willapa Bay shellfish beds and in the public's waters.
The Department of Ecology is accepting comments on its draft supplemental EIS until November 1. You may submit comments here:
You may read the DSEIS here:
You may hear the October 10 hearing here:

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Cooke Aquaculture: Money Doesn't Buy Lummi Nation Silence on Net Pens

Read what integrity is.

“Your demand to keep quiet for a few extra dollars is insulting,” 
(From the Seattle Times, October 12)

(From the Seattle Times)

If we pay for the tape will you be quiet?

Money didn't work. The surprise is Cooke didn't try beads and shiny metal.
The Seattle Times' Lynda Mapes writes on the response from the Lummi Nation to Cooke Aquaculture's attempt to stop the Lummi from advocating for the removal of net pen operations growing nonnative invasive Atlantic salmon. Cooke's stumbling down a path leaving footprints of half truths and utter confusion ran into a wall of integrity built by the Lummi Nation. Given Cooke's past response - or lack thereof - to the problems it was surprising they didn't offer beads and trinkets instead of money to buy silence. This is a company which should be told to close down their operations and move their idea of integrity and what is good for them somewhere outside of Washington's public waters.

We'll hire the best scientists,
trained in the art of deception!
(You too can create fake science, here.)

Let us hire a scientist who will show there's no problem. Trust us.
Adding further to the insulting belief that the Lummi Nation's silence could be bought for a few dollars is Cooke's belief that people - from whatever nation - would honestly trust a "study" funded by them on the impacts of escaped nonnative invasive Atlantic salmon from their collapsed net pen. A collapse which they could have easily been avoided by removing fish in July when the collapse first began. Instead, pursuing additional pounds and additional profits, they chose to squeeze another month out of a failing pen, a pen which collapsed completely one month later, releasing 165,000 mature and well fed nonnative invasive Atlantic salmon into Puget Sound. Then who blamed the "eclipse". 

You drive a hard bargain. Let us fund positions and make you wealthy. Just be quiet!
Putting a bow on the obvious knot which Cooke was trying to tie around the Lummi Nation to silence them, they offered to fund a position in the Lummi's natural-resource department and to “...explore and implement economic partnerships that would be very beneficial to your tribal members, in the form of jobs and revenue, potentially with a total economic benefit that exceeds $1 million annually to the members of your tribe.” (September 13 Letter from Cooke to LummiSeattle Times, October 12

This is not what Cooke wants you to see -
the core of what this company is.
Bainbridge Island net pen. DNR's reponse:
You are in default of your lease.

How about an all expense paid trip to Nova Scotia? Or Maine? Or Scotland? No, not Bainbridge Island.
In an August 30 letter from Cooke to the Lummi Nation they also extended an offer to fund a trip to see Cooke operations across the world and show what good stewards they were. It would seem a trip to the Bainbridge Island facility was not going to be included, a facility which the Department of Natural Resources found in such disrepair they wrote a letter of default demanding the repairs be made within 60 days. A facility which simply represents the core of what this company is.

Thank you to the Lummi Nation
Thank you to the Seattle Times.

Get involved - Cooke was just issued a permit by WDFW to import another 2 million nonnative Atlantic salmon eggs from Iceland.
These nonnative invasive Atlantic salmon do not belong in the public's waters, nor in the Lummi Nation's traditional waters. Cooke can see nothing but profits and believes everyone will simply do as they please if paid enough money. It's time to realize that aquaculture in Washington is not grandpa's oyster farm anymore. These are large corporations who have money and motivation to expand into Washington's marine ecosystems. They believe money can buy any kind of science they want; that  politicians and agencies will simply roll over and agree these industrial operations are "in the state wide interest"; and that integrity does not exist. It does. Get involved.

Finally - Support investigative journalism.
The Seattle Times has been instrumental in laying bare the disaster which Cooke Aquaculture and complacent state agencies allowed to happen and, more importantly, the subterfuge they created in attempting to hide their negligence. Subscribe to the paper and support investigative journalism of this caliber.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Two faces of the Shellfish Industry: Polluting Willapa Bay with Pesticides; Suing Over Dairy Farmers' Perceived Threat

Tell the Department of Ecology to deny Willapa Bay shellfish growers' request to apply pesticides on Willapa Bay shellfish beds and the public's waters.
Click here to comment (Due by Nov 1)

Two Faces of the Shellfish Industry

One side:
Sue one agency claiming they aren't doing enough
to keep the waters clean enough.

The other side:
Demand another agency allow them to apply pesticides
onto Willapa Bay's shellfish beds and into its waters.

Do you want an oyster grown in waters
polluted with pesticides?

Mine for the taking.
Unfolding before us in real time is the shellfish industry wanting to have it both ways. On the one hand they sue one agency, claiming an industry is being allowed to pollute the public's waters, preventing them from growing shellfish and profits in those public waters, creating a "taking". On the other hand they demand another agency grant them a permit to spray pesticides into the public's waters and onto shellfish beds, claiming those waters are somehow "pristine" and theirs for the taking. 

Cow: "Don't sue me, I'm not your problem."
DEQ: "Don't sue me, I'm not your problem."
Attorney to Hayes Oyster Co: "Who should I bill?"

The source of fecal coliform? Cows are easy to see. Who to sue? Not so easy to see.
In a lawsuit filed in Oregon, (the second attempt moving further, after the first was dismissed), Pacific Shellfish Growers Association member, Hayes Oyster Company, is suing Oregon's'  Department of Environmental Quality. Hayes' suit claims  DEQ's  inaction has resulted in fecal coliform levels preventing them from growing oysters entirely on 250 of his 600 oyster beds, with the other 350 being closed intermittently during high rain events in the winter. The suit seeks $100,000 in damages (a "taking") and that DEQ act against the dairy farmers who Hayes sees as the problem.  Dairy farmers point out they are currently issued "CAFO" (confined area feed operation) permits by the Oregon Department of Agriculture which, in part, regulate the amount of manure they are able to apply to their fields. The Oregon Dairy Farmers Association notes that in addition to CAFO permit oversight they have also voluntarily fenced off streams and planted riparian zones along those streams to minimize impacts. Perhaps more importantly, they note there are multiple sources of fecal coliform, ranging from wildlife to septic systems to waste water discharge plants, and they may not be the source to begin with. But, as long as the Hayes Oyster Company continues to pay the bill, their attorney is happy to file suits, wherever, against whomever. 
[As an indication of the apparent financial challenges Hayes Oyster Company is facing, Oregon's Corporate Division indicates they have not paid their annual registration fee and are on the verge of another "Administrative Dissolution" being filed by Oregon. DEQ's attorneys and Haye's attorney may want to consider how that impacts the standing of Hayes Oyster Company.] 

Buying tidelands seemed like a good business decision. 
Until the Nesbit family's Goose Point Oysters found out 
Tideland parcels an estimated $2 million will buy you,
purchased by the Nesbit family's 
Goose Point Oysters in 2015.

Willapa Bay's native species make paying off a bad investment difficult. That's not Washington's problem.
In Washington's Willapa Bay, instead of adapting to different growing techniques as Taylor Shellfish has, most other growers are demanding that the Department of Ecology issue a permit which would allow them to spray Imidacloprid, a neurotoxic pesticide, onto shellfish beds and into the public waters of Willapa Bay. This demand has shed a light on the shellfish industry's past practices of spraying Carbaryl (also known as Sevin) onto shellfish beds and into Willapa Bay for years, all while claiming shellfish were being grown in "pristine waters". It has also shed light on companies such as the Nesbit family's Goose Point who paid millions for tidelands in 2015, likely hoping they could spray pesticides on their shellfish beds and waters of Willapa Bay. Instead, they and other growers discovered the public considers calling Willapa Bay waters "pristine" while spraying pesticides and herbicides onto shellfish beds not to be in the state wide interest. But, the growers are persistent and are back, demanding another permit be issued. It's cheaper that way.
[Note: The Department of Ecology is currently accepting comments, until November 1, on the Willapa Bay shellfish growers' proposal to apply  Imidacloprid on shellfish beds and waters of Willapa Bay.]

Get involved. Don't buy oysters grown in pesticides.
Industrial aquaculture is rapidly evolving and transforming marine ecosystems into little more than  corporate profit centers with little care for the real and growing impacts. Cooke Aquaculture's recent  drive for profits resulted in the escape of 165,000 nonnative invasive Atlantic salmon into Puget Sound, as well as significant problems being found in other operations. Nonnative Pacific oysters threaten the habitat of Olympia oysters which millions of dollars are being spent on to restore. Aquaculture has money, is motivated, and wants to grow. They have successfully "baked into Washington law" the "benefits" of aquaculture. That cake needs to be taken out of the oven in order to protect, preserve and restore the marine environment. And don't eat oysters from Willapa Bay.