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:

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Burley Lagoon clam die-off: Just move along. We have this all under control. Really?

There are lots more bad clams out there 
in Burley Lagoon, so have it.

It's foggy out there.
After residents along the shoreline of Burley Lagoon and nearby areas pointed out to Taylor Shellfish, Pierce County, the Department of Health, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Sea Grant, directly or indirectly, that there had been a large clam die off on the tidelands of the enclosed estuary, there is no more clarity on the cause than before.

Death of a clam is "not an anomalous event." What about the death of thousands?
What is clear is this was a significant event. As in Rocky Bay, Burley Lagoon too was a commercially planted tideland with high densities of nonnative Manila clams planted. In both cases "crops" of clams died, surfaced and began to rot. Pierce County noted that "die offs are not anomalous events" and they will happen again. If they will happen again, and the result is a "stench so bad it almost knocked me over" (Rocky Bay resident), shouldn't there be some sort of urgency to determine exactly what caused these massive die offs in south Puget Sound, Discovery Bay, and now Burley Lagoon? Spread over a period of months?

Toxic Bloom: We have samples, but we need more testing, so we'll just keep harvesting oysters.
When contacted, Taylor Shellfish claimed there was a "toxic algae bloom." There was a vagueness to what that toxic bloom was, with words to the effect that more testing needed to be done. The Department of Health was unaware of any such bloom and was unsure of the exact cause. Temperatures weren't abnormally high and Taylor had apparently said nothing to them. Or any of the other agencies.

Their experts are on it.
Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department responded that WDFW and the DOH had their experts looking at it, and based on conversations with them, there was no problem. Except that a large area of commercially planted nonnative clams had surfaced, died, and begun to rot. For unknown reasons. With waters of Burley Lagoon spreading that rot and oysters filtering that rot.

Crabs and birds will get through the predator nets and "clean it up". On their schedule.
WDFW said the crabs and birds would clean up the mess, even with predator nets in place. Predator nets in place to keep crabs and birds off of the tidelands. There was little concern over whether those species would be impacted by whatever toxins may have killed the clams. Rotting on the tidelands, dead from an unknown cause. In an estuary with low flushing.

DOH: Oysters filtering waters with rotting clams and unknown toxin is not a problem.
The DOH, like the others, was unsure of the cause but felt it may have been related to the large die off in Rocky Bay and an area near Vaughn. This was a die off which had occurred in June, almost 3 months ago, and was apparently now repeating itself. With thousands of clams rotting in Burley Lagoon and oysters doing what they do best - filtering that water. And being harvested for consumption.

Sea Grant: We need more grant money. 
Sea Grant and their marine scientists who have helped support the expansion of aquaculture in south Puget Sound are still unsure of what the cause of the Rocky Bay event was, and are now requesting additional funds for further studies. While waiting for an answer from these experts, another massive die off has occurred in Burley Lagoon. Another die off which has resulted in a similar "stench which almost knocked me over" (a Rocky Bay resident). Another die off whose cause is unknown and which will not be cleaned up by anyone.

NAMBI: Not against my business or industry.
Shoreline residents whose properties  are the most heavily regulated in the state through the Shoreline Management Act and now Pierce County's updated Shoreline Master Program expect to see similar attention on developments in the tidelands. And actions when those industrial level developments create industrial level impacts. Instead, what they hear is Taylor Shellfish testifying before the Pierce County Council during the SMP update hearing that not enough was being done for them. A hearing at which numerous amendments to address their prior concerns were adopted. After they appealed the original proposal to the Growth Management Hearings Board, which found in their favor. Still, they want more.

It's aquaculture. Our commercial activities are more important than you.
Now, residents who own shoreline property, property which is heavily regulated and restricted, look at the tidelands which once grew shellfish in reasonable numbers. Without a past in which die offs were not a regular event and which did not impact the public's use of waters and shoreline. Without predator nets and without PVC tubes. Without a "stench which almost knocked me over."

Get involved. If Pierce County believes the state law needs to change in order to de-prioritize aquaculture, they will do it. You should to. Because the stench will only get worse.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Taylor Shellfish Says Clam Die-off in Burley Lagoon from Toxic Algae

"Based on recent water samples, 
there is a toxic algae bloom in Burley Lagoon."
Taylor Shellfish, September 15

Testing and reporting to...?
After weeks of complaints over a putrid smell in Burley Lagoon and large areas of dead clams rising found on the surface of sediments, an email was sent to Taylor Shellfish asking if perhaps the cause may be that Burley Lagoon's carrying capacity has been exceeded. In response, Taylor Shellfish stated water samples had shown there was a toxic algae bloom occurring in Burley Lagoon. It did not appear from the email any residents had been notified of the toxic algae.

"The stench of dead clams 
nearly knocked him over," he said.
In July.
Burley Lagoon? No, Rocky Bay. 

The stench of dead clams.
Toxic algae blooms have impacted high density clam plantings by Taylor Shellfish elsewhere in Puget Sound this year. In July, residents near Rocky Bay also complained of a similar "stench". In the case of Rocky Bay, it was found large areas with clams planted in high densities by Taylor Shellfish had also risen to the surface and died. The Key Peninsula News wrote about the event August 1. 

This looks and smells very familiar.

This canary flew around for a long time.
In the September 15 email, Taylor noted the toxic algae is a "canary" of some sort, indicating something. That sampling shows the algae is still present months later, and shellfish planted in high densities in the tidelands of Puget Sound are still dying, should motivate health officials to do something more than they are. Before shellfish with toxins make their way from tidelands to the public. 

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Burley Lagoon Residents Complain of Putrid Smell, Clams Die Off: A "Preferred Use" of the tidelands?

"Particularly pungent smells 
may come from the beach when a common type of seaweed 
known as sea lettuce decays 
in an environment with low dissolved oxygen."
(Department of Ecology, "Focus on Saltwater Beach Odors")

Promoting and enhancing the public interest or industrial scale aquaculture?
After weeks of residents along the shoreline of Burley Lagoon complaining about a putrid smell so strong it has prevented many from enjoying the air outside of their homes, it appears there has been a clam die off to go along with it. To hear Taylor Shellfish discuss their "rights" under the Shoreline Management Act, the state and counties are to do nothing but promote and enhance aquaculture, prioritizing it over all other water dependent uses, believing it is in the statewide interest to do so. Even if it means what Burley Lagoon is experiencing.

Dead Clams in Burley Lagoon
Clean net placed too late?

The smell of politics.
Pierce County responded sources of the smell could be "Ulva" (aka Sea Lettuce, a native vegetative seaweed) so thick it smells of rotten eggs as it decays. Another source mentioned could be leaking septic fields. Not mentioned is that it could also be the carrying capacity of Burley Lagoon has been exceeded by Taylor Shellfish's intensive and industrial level of planting of clams and oysters, resulting in shellfish rotting as they die off, unable to survive due to the density of planting. Or it could be a combination of these or other things. Whatever it is, the stench is overwhelming and impacts enjoyment and use of the shoreline, whether a resident or a member of the public trying to enjoy the aquatic environment in Pierce County.

Maybe the nets just need 
a "good industrial scraping".
(Samish Bay, WA)

Do structures in the tidelands need bigger machines on the tidelands?
Long time residents of Burley Lagoon have stated they do not recall a stench so intense in all of their years living there, some for decades. What they also do not recall are the number of "predator nets"  which Taylor Shellfish uses to keep native species from feeding off of the sediments, or the expansive area covered. Nor do they recall the intensity of planting which is occurring, whether it be clams or nonnative Pacific oysters. As seen in the Samish Bay photo above, in order to deal with the heavy growth on their predator nets, Taylor partnered with New Holland and implemented the use of a tractor and a "street sweeper" to clear the nets there of Sea Lettuce so thick it prevents clams below from surviving. Algae which apparently exists in higher densities due to this artificial structure which has been placed over the tidelands of Burley Lagoon and on oysters planted in high densities.

It's not rocket science. It's "Ecosystem Services".

Oysters poop, seaweed grows, clams die. Ecosystem services at work.
As noted in an August 2017 "Ecosystem Services" winning picture, one source of the problem is directly related to oyster feces, their pseudo feces, associated ammonia, and shell surface area provided by high density planting of oysters. Oysters poop and provide "fertilizer". On the surface of those shells macro algae attaches and thrives on the "nutrients" expelled by the nonnative Pacific oysters. That growth is so intense oyster growth slows and clams rise to the surface. Summertime low tides and summertime heat promote decay and death. Smells emanate. Because of aquaculture. It's not rocket science. Calling it "ecosystem services" deflects attention from dealing with the problem created.

This is not "enhancing" the public interest
and is exactly what the Shoreline Management Act
was designed to prevent from happening
to Puget Sound tidelands.
(Read RCW 98.58.020 to see
intended preferences of the SMA)

"promote and enhance the public interest" - not industrial aquaculture
The Shoreline Management Act was created in response to industrial levels of activities impacting the shorelines of Puget Sound. It was not created to promote the industrial level of activities the shellfish industry has since evolved into. Activities and impacts which lower the statewide ability to enjoy the shorelines of Washington State. The Pierce County Council, in reluctantly passing their updated Shoreline Master Program, listened to Taylor Shellfish complain, even after additional changes were made to accommodate their industry, that more needs to be done in order for their industry to profit from tidelands and public waters. 
(Read August 28 letter from attorneys for Taylor Shellfish and the Foss family's North Bay Partners here: https://app.box.com/s/na0wpgwm4mjp7b41toj1iaf533iecij2)

Yes - Washington needs to change its laws.

"Maddening": Banning plastic straws and promoting PVC tubes in Puget Sound.
Most of what is noted in the Taylor/North Bay letter was addressed by Pierce County, yet still, Diane Cooper rose to state before the public and the council, not enough had been done for them. In response, most council members agreed, the state needs to change the law if, in fact, that is what Taylor Shellfish and others are relying on to promote their industry over other water dependent uses. [Read what the legislators who passed the SMA intended, here:
 https://app.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=90.58.020, where it states counties, in developing their Shoreline Master Programs:
"shall give preference to uses in the following order of preference which:
(1) Recognize and protect the statewide interest over local interest;
(2) Preserve the natural character of the shoreline;
(3) Result in long term over short term benefit;
(4) Protect the resources and ecology of the shoreline;
(5) Increase public access to publicly owned areas of the shorelines;
(6) Increase recreational opportunities for the public in the shoreline;
(7) Provide for any other element as defined in RCW 90.58.100 deemed appropriate or necessary."]
Get involved.
Use of structures and methods which create an environment from which odors emanate that are so strong as to prevent the public's enjoyment of the tidelands and shorelines is only one example showing how this industry is out of control. Pierce County agrees that laws promoting this need to change and will become active in the state to change this lopsided interpretation of a law intended benefit all in the state, not just a few corporations.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Pierce County Shoreline Master Program Update: Taylor Shellfish Still Not Happy

Pierce County Shoreline Master Program Update:
Council members approve amendment the Growth Management Hearings Board requested (4 yes, 2 no). Taylor Shellfish still complains they are too restrictive. Majority of council members say the state needs to act in order to protect Puget Sound's tidelands and estuaries from impacts aquaculture creates with 2 voting "No" and with others saying they are only voting "Yes" because the state law is forcing them to.

Video link is on the right side of this link:

Taylor Shellfish's Diane Cooper complains not enough has been done:
(1:33:30 - states the update is still too restrictive, referring to Taylor's August 28 letter outlining what more they want to have changed)
(1:52:20 - believes because impacts have been occurring historically they should be allowed to continue; believes science created for the industry supports 40,000 PVC pipes/acre are just fine)

Council members comment, most saying state laws which promote 40,000+ PVC pipes/acre in Puget Sound need to be changed.
1:36:44 - Derek Young spoke passionately for most about how he is only voting "yes" because state law is forcing him to, believing estuaries and tidelands are being adversely impacted by aquaculture. That the state is speaking of banning plastic bags and straws, while allowing PVC and grow-out bags for aquaculture is "maddening."
1:41:46 - Council Member McCune has seen impacts to estuaries and habitat, and how that impacts fish populations, and agrees with Council Member Young.
1:43:51 - Council Woman Ladenburg agrees with both previous speakers and that geoduck "farming" is not justifiable. Impacts are harmful, shorelines are pristine, and this is harmful, leaving for future generations a problem. She voted "No".
1:46:10 - Councilman Morell expresses concerns about further appeals and lawsuits from the shellfish industry. [Given Taylor's testimony, this appears possible.] He voted "No".

Get involved. The shellfish industry views Puget Sound's tideland areas as little more than a template for profits. Their use of plastics and means of harvesting does impact the intertidal area. And they want more.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Pierce County Shoreline Master Program Update: Final Decision by Council

Public testimony regarding Pierce County's SMP Update will be taken at the meeting or online. 
(See here: 
SMP Update vote by Pierce County Council
September 10, 3PM
930 Tacoma Avenue South, Room 1045
Tacoma, WA 98402
(See meeting information here: 

After an appeal to the Growth Management Hearings Board by the shellfish industry's Taylor Shellfish, Seattle Shellfish, and, the Foss family's North Bay Partners (who leases tidelands to Taylor Shellfish) a decision by the Growth Management Hearings Board found Pierce County's updated Shoreline Master Program (SMP) to be too restrictive. As a result, a number of sections and amendments were dropped, some changed, others left as is. Generally, oversight of aquaculture has been made far more favorable to the industry. On the other hand, the GMHB did clarify that aquaculture does not have a priority over any other water dependent uses.
(See decision here: http://www.gmhb.wa.gov/Global/RenderPDF?source=casedocument&id=6516)
(See decision on a request for reconsideration here: http://www.gmhb.wa.gov/Global/RenderPDF?source=casedocument&id=6553)

After a public hearing was held August 19 by the Community Development Committee, and testimony heard, they recommended a "Do Pass".
(See information on that meeting here:

Generally, oversight of aquaculture has been made far more favorable to the industry and state wide interests (however that is defined) were prioritized over the local interest. On the other hand, the GMHB did clarify that aquaculture does not have a priority over any other water dependent uses. 

Many people  devoted a great deal of time and effort in trying to ensure the marine habitat of Pierce County is preserved as best as possible. The aquaculture industry, and tideland owners who benefit financially from developments in their tidelands, devoted a great deal of money to ensuring their needs were met. Tomorrow, the Council will decide if they will accept what the GMHB has told them to.

Other legal efforts continue, some at a state level, others at the national level, with the goal being to preserve and protect the critical marine habitat unique to Puget Sound.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

September 17 - Wheels of law turn slowly: Final arguments to be heard on Army Corps' permitting.

Is this the future of Puget Sound's intertidal area?
Final oral arguments will be heard September 17 at 9:00 AM in the Seattle Federal Courthouse, at 700 Stewart Street, on whether the Army Corps' issuance of Nationwide Permit 48's which allowed for expansion of aquaculture in Puget Sound's intertidal area was in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Clean Water Act (CWA) and/or the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). 

Originally filed in June of 2015, a number of legal steps have been taken, with the case slowly moving through the legal system. Arguments and counter arguments have been heard, volumes of papers and documents have been filed, culminating in the final hearing to be heard September 17.

At the core, the argument is permits approved and the process by which they were approved has resulted in a significant adverse impact to Puget Sound's intertidal habitat area. An area unique to Puget Sound and an area which native species depend on for survival, moving up the food chain to the highest levels.

After the oral arguments are heard, it is expected the Court will take up to 4 months to determine where the priorities of the Army Corps' permitting process should be: on the protection, preservation and restoration of marine habitat, or the economics of aquaculture.