Update on Willapa Bay Oysters and Spraying

Last week, when  the controversy finally peaked regarding the decision by both the Washington State Department of Ecology and oyster growers in Willapa decided to spray a chemical that has been linked to Colony Collapse Disorder, a reader took me to task for not covering it. Be assured I was working on an article but when the mainstream news gets a hold of a big controversy, as this was, they are way ahead of me on reporting it. I contacted folks I knew at Taylor, and WSU, but by the time I got responses, the bigger story, that buyers and consumers were already in an uproar over this, had moved beyond just press statements by media flacks.

Here’s the first hint that things were moving fast.

Plan to put neurotoxin on oyster beds distresses restaurants
A plan to spray pesticide over the sizable oyster beds at Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor is raising concerns with chefs and their diners. Renee Erickson was on the phone to her oyster suppliers as soon as she heard the news about Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor. As chef/owner of several Seattle restaurants, including renowned oyster bar The Walrus and The Carpenter, the region’s famous bivalves are her bread and butter, so she was “horrified” by a newly approved plan to spray some Washington oyster beds with imidacloprid, a neurotoxic pesticide, starting as soon as low tide on May 17. Bethany Jean Clement reports. (Seattle Times)


and finally this…
Pesticide spray plan for Willapa Bay oyster beds canceled after public expresses concerns


The department reported hearing from residents across Washington state that the practice did not meet their expectations.

The pesticides were supposed to control burrowing shrimp in the oyster beds. The shrimp burrow into the shellfish beds, making the ground too soft for oysters, causing them to suffocate.

“We believe we have no choice but to withdraw our permit and address these issues to the satisfaction of our customer base, and the public,” said Don Gillies, president of the WGHOGA, in the letter requesting withdrawal of the permit……

— The Associated Press

 and as so eloquently stated
After receiving calls, emails and social-media comments from customers all day Friday, Washington’s largest shellfish producer has announced it will not treat its oyster beds with a controversial pesticide. “Our customers spoke loud and clear today, and that speaks volumes to us,” Bill Dewey, spokesman for Taylor Shellfish, said Friday.  Carol Garnick reports. (Seattle Times)
See also: Oyster pesticide battle shows who really wields powerhttp://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/oyster-pesticide-issue-shows-who-really-wields-power/
 A couple of chefs accomplished in a few days what two powerful federal agencies couldn’t do in more than a year: head off the plan to spray pesticides on oyster beds. Danny Westneat reports. (Seattle Times)
Why does it have to take public outrage and a threatened boycott to get the officials in this state that work to theoretcially protect us, to do the right thing? And what the hell is WSU Extension doing supporting this proposal in the first place?

2 Responses

  1. Thank you Al for the summation. The words “safe” and “neurotoxin” should never be used in the same sentence. I was in Lacey yesterday, on Martin Drive below Ecology headquarters to begin with and it was invigorating to have so many drivers stop at the lights, read our signs and honk in support! But we aren’t finished. Growers want to attack Japanese eelgrass with imazamox, another unacceptable herbicide. A grower in our group had never used chemicals to control anything on the family oyster farm and we applaud such responsible citizens.

    • Good work! But what about the huge amounts of carbaryl already being sprayed on oyster beds? This needs to be publicized also.

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