Legal Action

The Coalition is continually working within our County, State and Federal legal systems to address shoreline ecosystem protection and management. Here you will find legal filings made by the Coalition. Please also visit the regularly updated news section of Protect Our Shoreline.

Conservation Groups Sue State to Demand It Protect Coastal Shorelines by Ending Permitting Exemption for Industrial Shellfish Aquaculture

April 12, 2018

Protect Zangle Cove, the Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat and Wild Fish Conservancy filed suit today against the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (“WDFW”), demanding an end to the improper exemption of industrial shellfish aquaculture projects from state standards designed to protect fish and marine habitats.


Center for Food Safety Files Suit to Protect WA Coastal Waters

Portland, OR—Today [August 17, 2017], Center for Food Safety (CFS) filed a federal lawsuit to stop the Trump administration, through its U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), from greenlighting a massive expansion of industrial shellfish aquaculture in Washington state coastal waters. Industrial aquaculture already threatens Washington’s iconic and invaluable shorelines and bays, which are home to numerous marine species, including endangered salmon. However, the new 2017 permit issued by the Trump administration and now challenged in this case would allow an enormous expansion of the $100-million-dollar-a-year Washington state aquaculture industry, without any marine wildlife or water quality protections for these unique and sensitive ecosystems.

READ MORE on the CFS website

Read the full complaint

Coalition files Supplemental Complaint to stop the indiscriminate use of NWP 48 (Nationwide Permit 48) by the Army Corps to authorize a shocking increase in harmful industrial aquaculture on Puget Sound

The Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat filed a Supplemental Complaint with the US District Court’s Western Division on June 5, 2017. The complaint addresses ongoing and expanding harm to the Puget Sound ecosystem caused by the rapid expansion of industrial agriculture. The Supplementary Complaint details the many levels of damage directly caused by industrial activity on Puget Sound, and makes explicit the responsibilities of the US Army Corps under the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act to regulate aquaculture and protect Puget Sound. The Corps has completely abandoned these responsibilities and has maintained a blanket aquaculture permitting fast-track, in utter disregard of their fundamental duties, and of the law.


Court of Appeals Upholds SHB, Superior Court Decisions

The Washington State Court of Appeals, Division 1 decision affirmed the Shorelines Hearings Board (SHB) decision to deny the 5 acre geoduck aquaculture permit in Henderson Bay/Pierce County. The Court of Appeals stated:

1. “We conclude the SHB did not err in concluding the Coalition met its burden of proving the permit buffers did not adequately protect eelgrass from adverse impacts in violation of the SMA (Shoreline Management Act) and Pierce County SMP (Shoreline Master Program).”.. The Coalition relied on the FSEIS buffer to argue the buffers approved by the Hearing Examiner were inadequate. The FSEIS identifies the need for a “2-foot vertical buffer or a minimum of 180-foot horizontal buffer” between eelgrass and subtidal geoduck harvest areas to protect eelgrass.”


Coalition Sues Army Corps Over Cumulative Impacts

June 22, 2016

The Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat announced that it has filed suit against the US Army Corps of Engineers, challenging the Seattle District of the Corps for its excessive issuance of shoreline aquaculture permits. The lawsuit, filed in Federal District Court for the Western District of Washington, outlines how the Seattle District has issued almost 1,000 permit verifications/registrations for industrial-scale shellfish operations in Puget Sound over the last four years, under a Nationwide Clean Water Act Permit (#48) – but it claims that the Corps has never done a cumulative impact analysis of the effects of all those permits on the Sound, the Orcas and salmon of the Sound, and the many other resources. Nor, claims the Coalition, has the Corps evaluated the cumulative impacts of these operations on the people who live and recreate in the Sound.


Superior Court Upholds SHB Denial of Geoduck Farm Permit

Thurston County Superior Court Decision in Darrell de Tienne and Chelsea Farms, LLC v. Shoreline Hearings Board, Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat and Paul and Betty Garrison, Pierce County.

On April 3, 2015, Thurston County Superior Court Judge Carol Ann Murphy announced her decision regarding the appeal of the Shorelines Hearings Board (SHB) denial of the Shoreline Substantial Development permit for a five plus acre commercial geoduck farm in Henderson Bay on a site that included extensive eelgrass beds that had been earlier devastated by the illegal harvest of geoduck by the applicant, Darrell de Tienne, and his former harvest partner, Washington Shellfish.



SHB Overturns Geoduck Aquaculture Permit


The Shorelines Hearings Board for the State of Washington overturned the Pierce County Hearings Board decision allowing geoduck aquaculture. (“Piece County’s issuance of SSDP No. 35-05 is REVERSED and the permit is therefore DENIED).

The permit was denied by the Board based on a lack of analysis of ecosystem services, cumulative impacts and other issues such as impacts on other human uses of the waterfront.



Additional Legal Appeals and Actions

The Coalition, on behalf of citizens in Washington State, presented to the Washington Shoreline Hearings Board environmental and social documentation that supports why new geoduck aquaculture permits should not be issued. The following presentations by scientific experts provide insight into the adverse effects of geoduck aquaculture both on a site specific and cumulative impact basis:

Presentations developed for the Haley Geoduck Farm appeal before the Shorelines Hearings Board, March 2 – 6, 2015

Jim Johannessen, Coastal Geologic Services, Inc. — Coastal Geomorphology and Coastal Geology Analysis of Proposed Haley Geoduck Farm, Pierce County, WA
Jim Brennen, Marine Habitat Specialist at University of Washington – Assessment of Known, Apparent, and Likely Impacts Associated with Geoduck Aquaculture with Emphasis on the Proposed Haley Shellfish Farm
Captain Charles Moore, Algalita Marine Research Institute — Bivalve Aquaculture Associated Plastic Pollution in South Puget Sound
Gary Ritchie, Ph.D. — Price/VanBlaricom Study Lacks Statistical Rigor

Commercial Aquaculture in Burley Lagoon Significantly Alters the Nearshore Environment
South Sound Citizens Document Increases in Plastic Pollution on Puget Sound Beaches

Related Presentations

Appeal to the Pollution Control Hearings Board regarding the Washington Department of Ecology decision related to Zostera Japonica (Japanese Eelgrass) management on commercial clam beds in Willapa Bay.
A Review of Adverse Effects from Industrial Geoduck Aquaculture Sites in South Puget Sound
Jim Johannessen, Coastal Geologic Services, Inc. — Coastal Geomorphology and Coastal Geology Analysis of Proposed Henderson Inlet, and Eld Inlet Geoduck and Clam Farms, Thurston County, WA
Captain Charles Moore, Algalita Marine Research Institute — Effects of Plastic Pollution from Bivalve Shellfish Aquaculture in South Puget Sound
Daniel Penttila, Salish Sea Biological — A Review of Effects on Forage Fishes, Zooplankton and Marine Vegetation from Three Geoduck/Clam Farm Proposals in Henderson Inlet and One Proposal in Eld Inlet, Thurston County, WA
Daniel Penttila, Salish Sea Biological — A Review of Effects of the deTienne Geoduck Farm Proposal on the Purdy Herring Stock, Eelgrass, Marine Vegetation, Zooplankton and Other Marine Resources in Henderson Bay, Pierce County, WA

Letter from the attorney of a concerned citizen to a commercial shellfish grower, with copies sent to nearby neighbors.
Petition before State Noxious Weed Control Board to delete Japanese Eelgrass from noxious weed classification
Supplemental information for Japanese Eelgrass petition
SHB Taylor Shellfish Petition for Review – April 22-23, 2013 – The Association for the Protection of Hammersley, Eld and Totten Inlets (APHETI) has intervened with David Mann representing us.
Seattle Shellfish – Motion to Intervene of Case Inlet Shoreline Association Note: Seattle Shellfish has requested settlement negotiations with the Army Corps and motions are on hold at this point.
SHB (Shorelines Hearing Board) Thurston Taylor Lockhart Petition – April 15, 2013
SHB Thurston Net@Ventures Petition – April 15, 2013
SHB Thurston Arcadia Thiesen Petition – April 15, 2013
SHB Thurston Arcadia McClure Petition – April 15, 2013