Gear, not geoducks, impacts ecosystem if farming increases – UW Today


Worth noting. The controversy over the conversion of natural shoreline to industrial aquaculture because of the current high prices being commanded in the Far East, is given new ammunition by a study done by the UW. This study should be read with the earlier 7 year study by Washington Sea Grant, that showed that impacts to the nearshore were reversible. That does not mean that they were non-existant. The biggest concern many people have is that entire bays are being converted to what amounts to a commercial farm, with near shore habitats being converted from natural to endless seas of tens of thousands of plastic pipe, which is used to protect the immature geoducks from predators. Harvests are done at low tide, meaning that in the winter, a homeowner may find themselves being kept awake by the compressors that are used to blow air to get to the ducks. With the value of the near shore properties and a lack of transparency by many real estate agents, it often comes as a very unpleasant surprise to new home owners. Once converted to aquaculture, the shorelines will never be allowed to return to a natural state, unless the market collapses permanently. And the state of Washington bureaucrats are really not interested in stopping this growth, being very much supportive of commercial aquaculture over natural shores. They believe that the carrying capacity of the Sound is able to handle it, but they have made these decisions with little science to back it in the past. With all these new studies, it’s now up to citizens in the various locales to raise these issues as policy decisions rather than trying to stop the new farms based on environmental concerns alone. Balancing this is the fact that the Tribes are entitled do aquaculture based on historical treaty rights, and aquaculture is one of the core protected activities of our state constitution, because the founding fathers recognized food production over all other concerns. As usual, there is no simple answer here.

The equipment used to farm geoducks, including PVC pipes and nets, might have a greater impact on the Puget Sound food web than the addition of the clams themselves. That’s one of the findings of the first major scientific study to examine the broad, long-term ecosystem effects of geoduck aquaculture in Puget Sound, published last week in the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea’s Journal of Marine Science. Michelle Ma reports. (UW Today)

Though these results show that Puget Sound can generally support more geoduck aquaculture, if effectively managed, the model can’t drill down to specific inlets or bays and predict how organisms would react at a finer scale to increased farming, researchers said. Further studies are needed to determine the potential impact of more aquaculture activities on specific areas of the Sound, they added.

http://www.washington.edu/news/2015/10/21/gear-not-geoducks-impacts-ecosystem-if-farming-increases/

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