“The Walrus and the Carpenter, went walking hand in hand. They cried like anything to see such quantities of sand…”
The jury is out on the latest initiative that was unveiled yesterday. The State, NOAA and the Shellfish industry execs teamed up to offer an interesting way to gain expansion of shellfish beds in Puget Sound. The ‘oysters’ this time, unlike those that got ate in the Carroll poem, are the local opposition to the expansion of geoduck farming, along with some environmental supporters, who may find, in the end that they got ate by the two ‘friends’ who put out their hands to ‘take a little walk’ in Shelton. But just like the original poem, the government and industry, which is who the Walrus and Carpenter were meant to symbolize, are still around with us.
The announcement gave something for everyone, as they say. In exchange for $200,000 in federal funds to help restore two kinds of species, (which means about 5 to 10 jobs, I would assume, and likely primarily in the abalone efforts), the shellfish industry will have the ability to accelerate the permitting process, especially for expansion of farms.
In case you haven’t been paying attention, the Feds believe that our pristine waters should be converted into the next megafarm for shellfish. They’ve said so publicly. While we all support a native industry that provides food, the expansion of “big aqua” farming methods in our area has alarmed many people, especially those living along the shores that find a ‘farm’ in the backyards where none existed previously. Then there’s the issue of destruction of habitat, in converting a diverse shoreline environment to a monoculture activity.
The state is going to give faster permitting, in exchange for water quality projects in the areas of the industry (the industry has always been a strong ally of the environmental goals of cleaner water in Puget Sound). But to be clear, the only thing ‘slowing’ the process of geoduck expansion are environmentalists and shoreline homeowner opposition. So look for less ability for these groups to put anything in the way of the growers.
We will also see expanded efforts to support the restoration of Olympia Oysters and pinto abalone. Pintos are turning out to be almost impossible to restore. The Olys are somewhat better. We have a couple of Oly projects going on in Jefferson County, one down on the base of Discovery Bay.
Curt Puddicombe, a contributor to this blog via many responses to our articles over the years, is quoted in the story referred to in our link. I’ve found Curt to be a very well informed environmentalist, and he is extremely concerned with a wide front of issues that the expansion of geoduck in particular raises.
To help newer readers understand, the Geoduck is farmed here almost entirely for a high priced Chinese market for aphrodisiacs at the dinner table. Nothing wrong with that. It’s an amazing international market that requires lightning fast 24 hour a day marketing and sales efforts, ending with the ducks on planes bound for China within hours of harvest.
We have a booming industry both in the tribes and the non-tribal groups. But this is big business. Not to be confused with subsistence local food sources. And the beds just can’t be setup on any beach. You need a specific beach that supports them. The South Sound is particularly suited, and that is what concerns local people who are seeing more and more shoreline converted to a farm that can be and is, often harvested by generator equipped boats in the middle of the night, especially in the winter during night tides.
The Olympian article is here:
If you Google “Shellfish aquaculture Puget Sound” you’ll likely find 50 or more other articles from yesterday.
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