Army Corps of Engineers ends aquaculture activities under court order


The Army Corps of Engineers has issued a ruling to stop much of the commercial aquaculture farming in Puget Sound. This draconian move is the outcome of decades of the local Army Corps of Engineers ignoring their own nationwide rules. This didn’t need to happen if they followed those rules. Instead, it took a court case that they and Taylor Shellfish lost due in part to the findings during discovery that there had been significant scientific information written finding destruction of the shoreline by these activities that was never published by the Corps. This web site at the time said that the findings were a fiasco for the Corps, and undermined any statements they made saying that they had the environment at the top of the priorities. They simply wanted to rubber stamp as much aquaculture as possible, and turn as much of our shorelines into factory farms for Chinese bound geoducks. This hurts the industry at the worse possible time. This industry includes many small farmers and Tribes who relied on that small income stream. The industry should not be blaming the environmentalists that brought this suit, they should be blaming the Corps. This whole shameful situation will not bring back the shorelines and virgin bays of the South Sound that have been destroyed. But it will set an example that the law can still come through. The next battle is coming next year, especially if Trump is not beaten in November. The whole permitting process is under attack, egged on by some of the industry actors we know so well and their contributions to the Trump administration.


SHELLFISH AQUACULTURE AND 2017 NATIONWIDE PERMIT 48
On June 11, 2020, the District Court for the Western District of Washington issued final orders (Order) invalidating authorizations for commercial shellfish aquaculture operations under the 2017 Nationwide Permit (NWP) 48, Commercial Shellfish Aquaculture Activities, in the state of Washington. In accordance with that Order, beginning on August 11, 2020, activities currently authorized under 2017 NWP 48 will no longer be authorized.

However, for those with verifications under the 2017 NWP 48, the Order allows certain activities to occur if the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle District (Corps) receives a new permit application for the project by December 11, 2020. Specifically, 2017 NWP 48 verification holders, who submit a new permit application by December 11, 2020, may:

a. Continue seeding and planting new shellfish crops until December 11, 2020 in areas of the project that do not contain mature native eelgrass beds; and
b. Until the expiration of their current 2017 NWP 48 verification, continue maintenance and harvest activities for shellfish planted or seeded on or before December 11, 2020.
c. Commercial shellfish aquaculture verified under 2017 NWP 48 that provides treaty harvest in furtherance of adjudicated treaty rights, may continue in accordance with the terms of the verification, provided that a request for authorization is submitted to the Corps by December 11, 2020.

At this time, the Seattle District is processing shellfish applications as individual permits and will continue to process such applications as expeditiously as possible. Some growers are combining multiple NWP 48 actions into one individual permit application, depending on the specific circumstances. Operators should reach out to their Corps Project Manager if they have questions about whether combining previously verified operations would be appropriate. On your individual permit application please include your Corps permit reference number should have a previous NWP 48 verification. For ease of application, we have developed procedures for applicants to electronically submit permit application materials. Please see our web page for instructions.

The Seattle District established an Aquaculture Permitting web page to answer frequently asked questions and provide updated information as it is developed. The link to this web page is:
https://www.nws.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/Regulatory/Shellfish-Aquaculture/
The Seattle District will periodically update the information on this web page as more questions are received and future special public notices are published. Should you have questions not listed on the FAQ, please submit them via the “Contact Us” link on the left side of this web page.

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