Eelgrass Must Be Protected

Citizens File Petition with the Intent To Sue To Stop Washington Seagrass Eradication

The Coalition To Protect Puget Sound Habitat has filed an administrative Rule-Making to Amend Petition with the Governors Office requesting that Jay Inslee take the necessary action to direct the State Weed Board to initiate rule-making to delete Zostera japonica (Japanese Eelgrass) as a Class C Noxious Weed. Despite objections from numerous scientists, citizens, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Department of Natural Resources, the Weed Board’s Class C Noxious Weed listing includes all Washington waters including Puget Sound.

Zostera japonica was listed as a noxious weed at the request of large corporate shellfish growers demanding that they be allowed to eradicate Zostera japonica in Washington waters without limits. The State Weed Control Board ignored the significant ecological benefits that outweigh industry’s unsupported claims that Z. japonica reduces their revenues and expansion. The shellfish industry is now requesting that Ecology issue NPDES permits to spray the pesticide Imazamox in Washington waters as early as this April with the public comment period ending February 15. Sierra Club has encouraged citizens to voice their opposition to this proposed spraying as well as the shellfish industry proposed spraying of Imidicloprid, a known bee killer .

As outlined in this appeal, the Coalition has stated that the Weed Board should not be allowed to violate existing county, state and federal laws that afford protection for both non-native and native eelgrass. The proposed eradication documents clearly show that adjacent native eelgrass will also be damaged or eliminated. Food sources for hundreds of thousands of migratory waterfowl, cover for salmon smolts, vegetation that supports invertebrates and herring spawn medium will also be collateral damage.

The Governor should require a cumulative analysis on this issue since: A new peer reviewed study outlines the need for a non-political analysis of Zostera japonica, a new peer reviewed study documents shellfish aquaculture increases nutrient production in estuaries and harmful algal blooms, seagrasses/eelgrass may reduce effects of sea change and acidification, a new State SHB Pierce County aquaculture ruling required a cumulative impacts analysis and toxins are already a serious concern with Washington shellfish. One State Agency nor Ecology should be allowed to ignore environmental and human health concerns at the demand of one industry.

Read the full text.