Coalition Wins Shorelines Hearings Board Geoduck Aquaculture Appeal

The Washington Shorelines Hearings Board ruled in favor of the Coalition To Protect Puget Sound Habitat and reversing and dening the first subtidal/intertidal geoduck aquaculture permit approved in Washington by Pierce County (see attached decision).

The Board concluded that “This farm located on a shoreline of statewide significance means that particular consideration must be given to balancing aquaculture as one statewide interest, with other statewide interests like the ecological values and the public’s recreational use.”

“The careful review required for this shoreline of statewide significance weighs in favor of requiring a cumulative impact analysis of the impacts that might result from granting the first subtidal geoduck farm permit in Henderson Bay-in particular to assess the potential for longer term impacts to fragile resources like eelgrass, as well as unique use of the area by recreationalists like windsurfers.”

For more information on the work of the Coalition To Protect Puget Sound Habitat and the Washington State Sierra Club to protect fragile marine resources, please visit:

2 Responses

  1. In response to Amy, beyond the eelgrass already being in a degraded state from past activities, monitoring and adaptive management mean little if there is no requirement to act when impacts are found. The SHB was clear on this: “The Board also finds an overreliance on monitoring and adaptive management to mitigate impacts. This overreliance is particularly concerning given that the Permit does not incorporate any required implementation to change – i.e., to increase the buffer should monitoring prove the need for greater protection. There may be real consequences from selecting the small buffer here, given the particularly fragile state of eelgrass at this Site. Neither the Applicant nor the County considered the extent to which eelgrass might persist in a degraded state, that the past survey(s) may consequently have set what is an already degraded baseline for assessing eelgrass, and that no area for potential expansion [of eelgrass] was included in the buffer.” SHB decision, p. 27/28

  2. I believe that adaptive management strategies to look at the buffer size was designed to help determine what buffer is large enough. Since DNR was to play a big role in the monitoring, if the size of the buffer was shown to be inadequate, it would be required to change.

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