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Case Inlet News

Pierce County Comment letter From Plauche

December 7, 2011

CISA attorneys' challenge new language in the WAC's by DOE regarding geoduck aquaculture permitting.

Bricklin comments  

November 30, 2011

CISA attorneys' submit comments to DOE and EPA regarding ACOE's NWP's consistency on water quality standards.

Volker comments 

October 3, 2011

CISA appeals the Pierce County HE decision to the Shoreline Hearings Board to bring scrutiny to a proposed geoduck shellfish operation in documented critical salmon habitat and near documented forage fish spawning habitat.  The DOE is intervening.

Restatement of Issues

April 12, 2011

Governor Gregoire writes a letter to NOAA supporting the expansion of shellfish aquaculture in Washington State.

Gregoire letter to NOAA

Gregoire is the only governor to write a letter supporting her friends in the shellfish industry in their quest for increased expansion of aquaculture.  This is in spite of the growing accumulation of scientific evidence that shellfish aquaculture, especially intertidal geoduck aquaculture, damages fragile habitat important for endangered salmon and other supporting aquatic species.  Gregoire also supports aquaculture in opposition to the citizens of Washington state, who do not support the expansion of aquaculture in Puget Sound.  This also highlights the institutional bias the State of Washington has traditionally bestowed upon the shellfish industry, as well as the unrelenting lobbying efforts by the industry.  DNR also wrote NOAA, mirroring Gregoire's support for aquaculture.

Alaska Governor Sean Parnell, a republican, wrote in opposition to aquaculture expansion in Alaska's nearshore waters based on feedback from the citizens of Alaska, and on the prevailing adverse impacts it would have on Alaska's wild fishery.

Bill Dewey, on behalf of Taylor Shellfish, also wrote in.  Dewey, as always, disingenuously uses the seafood trade deficit as an excuse to expand Taylor's footprint in Puget Sound.  The seafood trade deficit, like the overall trade deficit, has little to do with producing more shellfish here.  It is primarily a business and policy problem that can never be solved by producing more shellfish here.

You can also read comments from the Oceans Conservancy here, and Sierra Club here.    

May 11, 2010

The Washington State Department of Ecology has released their "Discussion Draft Summary of Proposed Changes to Chapter 173-26, Shoreline Management Act Geoduck Aquaculture".  The Draft can be viewed here.  HB 2220 can be viewed here.  This severely flawed document leaves little doubt to the magnitude and depth of the institutional bias that exists in Washington State government in the promotion of the expansion of geoduck aquaculture in Puget Sound.  The Draft is an attempt to change the Shoreline Management Act to accomodate a few aquaculture companies in clear defiance of Puget Sound citizens.  Read CISA's response to the Draft here

May 15, 2010

Dozens of PVC tubes wash up on the private beaches of CISA members near Vaughn Bay.  View pictures here.

April 22, 2010

DNR launches a web based forum for public dialog on geoduck aquaculture on public tidelands.  The online conversations are set for May 3 through May 7.  View the DNR Release hereView the DNR forum overview here.
View the entire forum here.

April 12, 2010

DNR has issued an application for right-of-way authorization to allow Taylor Shellfish to harvest geoduck that was illegally planted on public tidelands in North Bay.  To view the application, please click here.  DNR has not indicated whether any fines will be assessed for this trespass. 

March 30, 2010

Shellfish Growers Attempting to Influence Public Tidelands Regulations

Shellfish growers are trying to insert a provision in the DNR's budget which would limit DNR's ability to regulate shellfish aquaculture activities on state owned tidelands.  In addition, local tribes, including Squaxin, Inc., are now saying that protecting salmon habitat is secondary to expanding geoduck aquaculture on public tidelands.  Click here and here for more information.

CISA comments:

The influence of the shellfish industry and the greed associated with geoduck aquaculture on the tribes is apparent here.  It is outrageous that the tribes would now suggest that DNR's salmon habitat protections are now too strict.  The tribes are now using the same shellfish industry false rhetoric to advance geoduck aquaculture on public tidelands in spite of the fact that there is no scientific data that shellfish aquaculture, specifically geoduck aquaculture, provides any ecological benefit to Puget Sound.  There is, however, ample scientific data and observation that shellfish aquaculture does, in fact, alters and adversely impacts habitat.  Both the shellfish industry and tribes indicate here that they are more than willing to throw public habitat and reasonable precaution away for some big geoduck bucks.     

March 17, 2010

Seattle Shellfish applies for a DOE/ACOE permit for a floating shellfish nursery in the public waters of Spenser Cove in Case Inlet.  View the Joint Public Notice here.  This floating nursery is designed to replace the illegal "kiddy pool" incubators that were removed after CISA and Mason County citizens blew the whistle on Seattle Shellfish's illegal commercial activities.  The project includes a 360 foot log boom, six 45 foot overwater rafts, and twelve 8 to 12 inch steel pilings driven into the sediment bottom.  Seattle Shellfish and ACOE claim that nursery rafts have been utilized here before.  If so, they were illegal.  This project, if approved, will clearly negatively impact fisheries resources and public navigation.  Read Environs' (Jeff Fisher) response to SEPA comments here.

This is the sixth application for geoduck aquaculture operations so far this year in South Puget Sound.  One for Allen Shellfish on a lovely pristine public beach on Stretch Island, two for Arcadia Shellfish in Henderson Inlet, one for Taylor Shellfish in Henderson Inlet, one nursery raft conversion for Taylor Shellfish in Totten Inlet, and this application by Seattle Shellfish for six rafts in Spenser Cove.

Piece by piece, beach by beach, one parcel at a time, the shellfish industry continues its rapacious march to commercialize South Puget Sound and take over public trust tidelands, valuable ecological habitat and public waters/resources for the profits of a few greedy individuals.      

January 27, 2010

In a propaganda piece from the Economic Development Council of Mason County, reprinted from an article in Washington Business, David Dicks, executive director of the Puget Sound Partnership, parrots the shellfish industry by calling geoduck farming a “use conflict” fueled by hyperbole rather than facts.


CISA comments:


Dicks' comments are demonstrative of the deep institutional bias that permeates all state agencies on shellfish aquaculture.  Dicks would have us believe that water quality is the only important issue affecting Puget Sound.  The fact is the shellfish industry is expanding into pristine areas of South Sound that already have excellent water quality.  Notwithstanding the obvious conflicts with the Shoreline Management Act and the Public Trust Doctrine, geoduck aquaculture and shellfish culture in general cause a variety of documented adverse impacts to the environment.  For example, intertidal geoduck aquaculture suppresses eelgrass, sand dollars and sediment dwelling invertebrates.  These are the facts, not hyperbole.


There is much more to protecting Puget Sound than simply water quality.  Habitat alteration, thousands of tons of PVC plastics, displacement of native species – these are some of the REAL problems associated with shellfish aquaculture – but willfully ignored by Dicks and the PSP.  Puget Sound needs leaders that will address ALL of the negative impacts to the Sound, not just those that are politically expedient.

It is equally inappropriate for Dicks and the PSP to use taxpayer dollars to promote the shellfish industry at the expense of local South Sound groups that are fighting to preserve the natural character of the shoreline for future generations.  CISA calls for the immediate resignation of Dicks, and a reassessment of the validity of the Puget Sound Partnership, particularly with respect to South Sound.

January 21, 2010

   Justin Taylor writes a letter to Gov. Gregoire complaining about water quality and regulations.  Gregoire responds sympathetically.

CISA comments:

As expected, Taylor centers his concern for Puget Sound on shellfish industry expansion only, and ignores habitat loss for forage fish, shorebirds, eelgrass, sand dollars, and other native species.  And as expected, Taylor regurgitates the usual "clean water" false propaganda.  There are no cries from Taylor for clean water in Willapa Bay, where shellfish growers have been spraying Carbaryl for decades to kill native burrowing shrimp.  Taylor also misleads by claiming that red tape is holding up expansion in Puget Sound, forcing Taylor to expand elsewhere.  The fact is, Taylor's Hawaii operation is nothing more than a hatchery.  Taylor's purchase of Kuiper Mariculture in Humboldt Bay is also strictly for hatchery purposes.  The shellfish seed from both hatchery facilities are transported for grow out in Washington, Oregon and British Columbia.

  Sadly, Gregoire's response to Taylor is also expected.  Gregoire has never responded to letters from concerned citizens about the growing menace of PVC plastics, bags, barges and the numerous commercial activities taking over South Puget Sound's tidelands in violation of the Shoreline Management Act and the Public Trust Doctrine.  Gregoire's response is indicative of an unfair bias in favor of the shellfish industry in general, and for Taylor Shellfish in particular.  Gregoire, and the state, continue a policy of protecting the shellfish industry over protecting the environment or in affirming or enforcing the Shoreline Management Act or the Public Trust Doctrine, in spite of overwhelming evidence of the irresponsible behavior of the shellfish industry.










January 19, 2010

In a victory for citizens, the State of Washington Growth Management Hearings Board rejected the shellfish industry's attempt to undo Pierce County's interim regulations on geoduck and shellfish aquaculture.  The decision can be found here

In July, 2009, Seattle Shellfish, LLC and the Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association petitioned the Board, asserting that Pierce County's amendment to the Shoreline Master Program violated the Shoreline Management Act, the SMP Guidelines and the Growth Management Act.  The Board stated:
The Board finds and concludes that Petitioners have failed to demonstrate that Pierce County's and Ecology's actions in adopting and approving the amendments to the County's Shoreline Use Regulations, Chapter 20, as enacted by Ordinance 2009-26 violated the provisions set forth in Petitioners' issue statements.  Therefore, CPSGMHB Case No. 09-3-0010 is dismissed."

CISA comments:

We would like to thank the Hearings Board for sorting out the facts in their review.  We would also like to thank Seattle Shellfish, LLC and the Shellfish Growers Association for bringing this issue up in the first place, for adding to the public record, and for shedding additional light on several of their more absurd arguments.  For example:

 Shellfish growers argued that the county failed to consider the net loss of ecological functions by not allowing shellfish farms!  The county correctly argued that the amendment provides greater protections.  The Board stated: "Petitioners have not demonstrated that banning new shellfish farming in the Natural Environment or that regulating future shellfish operations in other zones constitutes a 'net loss'."

  Shellfish growers argued that shellfish farms are critical saltwater habitat and priority habitat, and that native and even invasive shellfish are a priority species under the SMA.  The Board ruled that Pierce County has a valid Critical Areas Ordinance that protects shellfish beds, and that this argument was untimely since this would be addressed under the SMP update.  Hence, the Board dismissed this argument.

Are commercial shellfish beds "priority habitat"?  According to the
SMA definitions, "priority habitat" means a habitat type with a unique or significant value to one or more species.  Ecology makes reference to only native shellfish species in describing priority habitats.
Commercial shellfish sites do not necessarily offer a "unique or significant value" to aquatic species.  Indeed, commercial shellfish sites typically remove, displace or damage known "priority habitats" such as eelgrass, sand dollars and woody debris.  Commercial shellfish operations are subject to constant disturbances from culture and harvest activities, whereas a "habitat" usually remains relatively undisturbed.
Are farmed shellfish a "priority species"?  According to SMA definitions, "priority species" means species requiring protective measures and/or management guidelines to ensure their persistence at genetically viable population levels.  According to the criteria, a commercial species can only be a "priority species" if it is vulnerable to habitat loss or degradation.
Thus, according to the SMA, commercial shellfish are neither a "priority habitat" nor are they a "priority species".  Commercial and recreational shellfish beds are considered 
"critical saltwater habitat" under the SMA, but in 1971 this was limited to oysters and clams.
Shellfish growers argued that aquaculture is a "water dependent" and "preferred use".  Based on the language of the SMA, the Board concluded that it is within Pierce County's authority to properly manage aquaculture, and to establish use and location restrictions for aquaculture operations.  Similar to the County, Ecology also asserted that there is nothing in the SMA or SMP Guidelines which mandates that all water dependent or preferred uses be allowed in all environments or under any or all circumstances.  Rather, Ecology argued that the SMA expressly contemplates that shoreline alterations will be authorized only under limited circumstances so as to minimize ecological or environmental damage.  Case law upholds Ecology's position that the SMA grants authority to restrict or condition these uses based on the overarching policies of the SMA.  

Shellfish growers argued that the county was required to consult with the Army Corps, NOAA/NMFS and USFWS.  The Board determined that there is no prerequisite requirement for this in the SMA, and that the Amendment had been submitted before the NMFS and USFWS reports had been initiated anyway.

Shellfish growers argued that the Bush Callow Act of 1895 provided for the private purchase of tidelands for the sole purpose of shellfish farming, and that the prohibition of this use constitutes an unconstitutional taking of property.   The Board found nothing in the SMA or SMP Guidelines that provides any criteria to address this issue.  Also, the Board dismissed this for lack of jurisdiction.  CISA would suggest that Bush Callow is completely irrelevant to the argument.  Under the original Act, it was illegal to grow anything but oysters, so clams or geoduck would not have been permitted on Bush Callow oysterlands.  Further, Bush Callow lands, as with virtually all tidelands in Washington State, are subject to The Public Trust Doctrine, and there can be no expectation of economic gain from any tidelands, public or private, if the activity interferes with certain public rights in the tidelands.  The enjoyment of nature is one of these rights.

The Hearings Board also stated in their ruling: 
"The Board notes that the SMP Amendment also subjects recreational docks and piers to new prescriptive regulations, which have not been appealed."       

Also of note: Ecology notified Pierce County that the amendment would be approved if the county removed its prohibition on intertidal aquaculture in the Urban and Rural Residential environments, and removed its restriction on night and weekend operating hours.  Ecology's approval would not be effective until Pierce County's written notification of compliance.  Ecology did not articulate how these changes transformed the limited amendment from being denied, to being approved. 
December 6, 2009

Another trespass on public tidelands by Taylor Shellfish, this time in Case Inlet's North Bay near the Taylor/Engman lease site between Rocky Point and Victor.  View the map
here.  View the SEPA Determination of Nonsignificance here.  View the environmental checklist here.  Comments must be submitted to the SEPA Center by 4:30 PM, December 18, 2009.  Submit comments to the Sepa Center.  Include File number 09-120402 in your email.

As usual, Diane Cooper of Taylor Shellfish states the typical false propaganda in the environmental checklist.  Page 8: "Aquaculture is a water dependent use and encouraged under the Washington State's Shoreline Managment Act and Mason County's Shoreline Master Program."

Page 6: "There is evidence that shellfish beds, including geoduck farm sites, enhance habitat values and functions and serve to mitigate impacts resulting from other activities that may occur in the vicinity.  Additionally, NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service conducted a formal consultation on shellfish activites, including activites that may occur at this site, and concluded that these operation are not likely to adversely impact salmonids, their prey, or essential fish habitat."

CISA comments:

Cooper's comments under the environmental checklist are unfortunate but not surprising.  Aquaculture is not a use that is prioritized under the Shoreline Management Act.  As practiced, it violates both the SMA and the Public Trust Doctrine.  And there is very clearly NO evidence that geoduck farms enhance habitat values.  The science so far seems to suggest the opposite is true.  And the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service document referenced by Cooper is an 'opinion' with nothing conclusive.  The fact is, both the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Army Corp. of Engineers stated that existing shellfish aquaculture is likely to adversely affect essential fish habitat for all fish in Puget Sound, and to adversely affect critical habitat for endangered Puget Sound Chinook salmon and Hood Canal Chum salmon.  So in reality, the truth is nearly the complete opposite of Ms. Cooper's unfortunate comments.

December 5, 2009

In a staggering display of unmitigated hypocrisy, Brian Allen of Allen Shellfish, and "resident ecologist" from the Puget Sound Restoration Fund, applies for permits to culture geoducks in Case Inlet, on 4-1/2 acres of public tidelands on the Eastern shores of Stretch Island.  View the Joint Public Notice
here.  Comments are due by January 6, 2010.  Send comments to ACOE.  Reference Allen Shellfish, LLC; NWS -2009-88.  Include your name, address and phone number in your email.  You may request a public hearing.
Also send comments to the 
Dept. of Ecology.

CISA comments:
There is certainly nothing in Mr. Allen's plans that could be considered restoration.  Although we agree with and appreciate much of PSRF's efforts, this tends to advance the evidence that the Puget Sound Restoration Fund functions to some extent as a public relations tool for the shellfish industry.  The introduction of hundreds of tons of dioxin leeching PVC plastics into the pristine tidelands of Case Inlet hardly constitutes "restoration" or anything "ecological".