Shellfish Initiative Attacks Our Tidelands

Shellfish Initiative Attacks our Tidelands, Clean Water Act and Public Health

Read WA Shellfish Initiative documents here.

Washington tidelands are under covert attack by the shellfish industry as they implement the industry created State Shellfish Initiative supported by Governor Inslee. This 2011 initiative, intended to subvert our constitutional rights, silences citizen’s concerns and limits the right to litigate as industry takes over our shorelines for industrial aquaculture use. The U.S. Dept of Commerce/NOAA marched in at the request of industry to facilitate unlimited expansion sprinkled with minimal restoration. The plan includes “incentives/rewards” for counties that issue the most aquaculture permits. The Army Corp has issued over 900 aquaculture permits since January 2012.

“Streamlined permitting” has been approved to intentionally weaken environmental and social protections afforded by the Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, the Shoreline Management Act and the Public Trust Doctrine. One of the outlined duties for the Washington Department of Ecology, as a sub-agent of the shellfish industry, was to facilitate County Shoreline Master programs that allow industrial aquaculture in all shoreline designations including the most pristine natural areas.

As part of this plan, Grays Harbor was the first county to pass a Right To Farm ordinance on New Years Eve day. This ordinance was designed to prevent concerned citizens from filing lawsuits against the shellfish industry as their practices in residential areas include aerially spraying pesticides, excessive noise, odors and degrading marine plastic pollution. Unlike agriculture, these are public waters that are protected by the Public Trust Doctrine.

Public safety has been ignored along shallow shorelines as industry continues to add thousands of canopy nets which catch boat props and harm swimmers, scuba divers, aquatic animals and birds. Public health is at risk when the public is not informed that Vibrio vulnificus, a deadly bacterium, was detected last year in Puget Sound oysters.

The biological diversity of Puget Sound and our coastal bays are threatened by industry’s degrading water quality from the use of pesticides, industrial activities and miles of plastic pollution from toxic PVC and other plastics. Willapa Bay, the largest producer of aquaculture in Washington State was referred to as a “chemical soup” by the Washington Attorney General as part of the legal argument to continue pesticide spraying. Shellfish growers are now requesting aerial pesticide spraying in Puget Sound over tidelands.

Because of the high potential for unethical conduct, the Coalition To Protect Puget Sound is referring this issue to the State Executive Ethics Board and State Auditor. We are also requesting the Washington Department of Ecology and the Governor provide a copy of the SEPA required Environmental Impact Statement that has not been produced in public records requests. Our state is not in compliance with funding schools, so we should not be using scarce public funds to support a special interest group that pays minimal taxes.

PCC Natural Markets has also questioned the sustainability of industrial aquaculture. Read More.

Aquaculture industry installing 8 miles, 35-40 tons of toxic PVC (per acre) and netting in Puget Sound shorelines

Eagle Caught in Net

Eagle caught in aquaculture netting