S’Klallam tribes apply for oyster aquaculture permit for Dabob Bay – Port Townsend Leader

It’s being reported in the Port Townsend Leader this morning that the Jamestown and Port Gamble S’Klallam tribes are proposing a new aquaculture farm on 10 acres in Dabob Bay. It’s worth noting that clamming and oyster harvesting are treaty resources of these tribes.

Pick up the leader or go online to read it. You will need to subscribe if you go online or purchase a copy at the newstand.

The public has until June 23 to comment on a proposed shoreline substantial development permit for 10 acres of suspended tumble oyster aquaculture, submitted by the Jamestown and Port Gamble S’Klallam tribes for Dabob Bay.

The tribes are proposing to produce shellfish – oysters and Manila clams – for human consumption

Ecology solicits comments on net pen guidelines – PT Leader

Worth monitoring. Will not include members of NGOs on the core panel.Only Dept. of Ecology employees. We will be keeping a close eye on their output. The project will take over a year to complete.

When the state Department of Ecology kicked off the new year by soliciting early input on a net pen management project, it reawakened concerns among fish conservationists. Project coordinator Cedar Bouta sent out an email Jan. 4 inviting public input. The email explained that the departments of Ecology, Agriculture and Fish & Wildlife are replacing the state’s 30-year-old management recommendations for commercial marine finfish aquaculture, or net pens, in collaboration with the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science…. According to Bouta, the project’s goal is to update the state’s guidance for the industry and coastal managers – including state and local government regulators – and provide them with the most current scientific data and methods…. Comments due by March 4. Kirk Boxleitner reports. (Port Townsend Leader)

http://www.ptleader.com/news/ecology-solicits-comments-on-net-pen-guidelines/article_2d3c880e-fe0a-11e6-a68a-03e87de5c947.html

INPUT NEEDED: State Ecology Netpen Guidelines being updated – March 4 deadline

New commercial fish farm (net pen) management tools being are developed by the Department of Ecology:

Provide your input on project scoping by March 4

Washington’s 30-year old management guidelines for commercial, marine fish farms (net pens) are getting an overhaul. (This is not about whether net pens are to be allowed or not, it’s about updating best practices management of the pens).

Ecology has partnered with the state departments of Fish & Wildlife and Agriculture, and the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science to write new management recommendations useful for the industry and coastal managers – including state and local government regulators.

The project is designed to provide up-to-date information on this use and better understand the concern of citizens. Results will help ensure any new facilities are sited and operated consistent with current science and modern management practices. It is not designed to determine whether or not future net pens will be allowed (See Frequently Asked Questions).

The planning team is just getting started, and they want your input

The multi-year project is just getting underway and you are invited to provide input on early decisions made by the project team. Two documents are available for review and comment.

  1. A summary of draft scoping decisions that describes early decisions made by the team regarding:
  • Geographic and topical scope
  • Scientific and technical review
  • Outreach and opportunities for interested parties to influence the outcome

 

  1. A writing outline that will guide the project team through fact-finding and identification of suitable safeguards and management practices. The team is especially interested in feedback on topics you would like to see addressed in the final document.

 

View and download these documents on the project website.

Comments accepted now through March 4.

 

Submit input to:

Ms. Cedar Bouta

Shorelands and Environmental Assistance Program

WA Dept. of Ecology

P.O. Box 47600

Lacey, WA 98504-7600.

Email: Cedar.Bouta@ecy.wa.gov

 

Visit the project webpage to learn more.

Subscribe to the listserv to get email updates and make sure you have the latest information

Study predicts decline in Dungeness crab from ocean acidification – Seattle Times

More on ocean acidification and it’s likely affect on our local food supply.

Dungeness crab are forecast to take a hit from ocean acidification driven by fossil- fuel combustion, according to a study released this past week. Though the populations of the Dungeness crab fluctuate year by year, their overall abundance by 2063 could be about 30 percent lower, according to federal fishery biologist Issac Kaplan, a co-author of the study,  Hal Bernton reports. (Seattle Times)

http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/environment/study-predicts-decline-in-dungeness-crab-from-ocean-acidification/

First Hard Proof that Net Pen Salmon Eat Wild Species – Alexandra Morton

The raging controversy over net pens, both here and in Canada, just got a bit more intense. The first hard evidence that net pen salmon are eating wild stocks of herring, that we as taxpayers are paying millions to try and restore. The net pen fish are probably also eating other juvenile wild fish. As one example of what this might mean to us, there have been oldtime fishermen I’ve spoken to, who claim that when the net pens went in on south side of Bainbridge Island, fishing collapsed in Agate Pass. Coincidence? Maybe. But no serious study has ever been made, that I can find, on whether there were problems caused by the net pens being introduced there.

This may end up being one of the most important environmental news stories of the year for the Pacific Northwest, especially at this point in time, due to the Washington State Department of Ecology continuing it’s PR campaign to say that net pens are ecologically ok for Puget Sound waters. It’s time to continue the call for a total ban on net pens throughout our Sound, and the greater Salish Sea. The little amount of science having been done on this industry is incomplete, and focuses only on whether the sea bottom, directly under and around the pens is restoreable. NOAA has never (from what I’ve tried to find) looked at the wider issues that implementation of pens may pose on wild stocks, either of salmon or herring, let alone whether locations where pens have been tried and failed, have ever recovered as NOAA claims they should. They can start right here in Port Townsend Bay, and investigate the sands just below where the last pens were located some decades ago.

UPDATE: since this article a person who is employed by an aquaculture operation, laughed off my concerns about farmed fish eating herring and wild stocks. “Of course they do!” was his answer. I had to remind him that this is the way this always goes. The industry denies any impact until confronted with their impact, then tries to laugh it off or bring out their shills to discount any attempt to bring science (that they don’t control) to the table.  Sorry friend, but your lack of science to support your industry is going to ultimately bring you down. Live it up while you can.

“On August 23, 2016 I put a Go Pro camera on a pole and submerged it in a salmon farm run by Marine Harvest.”

https://www.voyageforsalmon.ca/first-hard-evidence/

Coalition of groups sues Army Corp of Engineers over Aquaculture

The battle over the expansion of geoduck farm aquaculture in Puget Sound has just taken a huge step into open legal warfare. A group called the Coalition To Protect Puget Sound Habitat,  concerned over  the increase in geoduck farm permits without substantial review, have sued the US Army Corp of Engineers, who issue the shoreline aquaculture permits allowing this expansion. The coalition is asking to have the courts stop the Corp from issuing new permits, and suspending  some of the latest permits until further in-depth research is done into the cumulative effects of the permitting. Also a number of other requests were demanded by the suit. It states that the Corps has been in violation of the Clean Water Act by its actions.
The case is much more than a simple lawsuit. Due to the demand for geoduck in China, companies have been racing to convert geoduck friendly shorelines (not all shores in Puget Sound support geoduck) to aquaculture. This often takes prime shoreline that is used by the public  out of commission, essentially forever. If you owned a shoreline home in any of these areas, you would find you have suddenly got an industrial operation happening in your “backyard” at all hours of day and night, according to the tide tables. This can mean diesel generators going at any hour on the beaches below your house, especially during winter tides.
An example of the growth of shellfish farms in the South Sound is given in the lawsuit.
cumulative impacts of shellfish farms
While NOAA scientists claim that there is only ‘limited damage’ to these beaches, it is all based on the notion that the farm is ‘temporary’, which it is not. Studies have not shown any significant long term damage, if the farm would be terminated and the beach allowed to return to it’s natural state. Also studies have not taken into affect the cumulative action of converting many beaches along a given reach within a short time. The lawsuit is addressing this issue as a problem. 
 
However, short term use of the beaches is not happening. Once the beach is converted, it is then for all practical purposes an aquaculture farm until the market no longer supports its existence.
So the Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat has announced a lawsuit, seeking to halt all permitting while the Corps undertakes a systematic look at the cumulative effects of all the farms.
While the press release states that this is a coalition, it is not clear who actually are members of the Coalition. Their web site and press release below mentions a list of organizations and individuals, with “Washington Sierra Club – Aquaculture” listed as perhaps the most prominent organization. This link ends in a dead link at the Tacoma Sierra Club site. In contacting the Washington Sierra Club about the lawsuit, a representative stated, “The Washington State Sierra Club is not a plaintiff in this case because we are not a member of the Coalition.”
There are no specific names listed as members, though the press release refers to “an alliance of citizens, scientists and conservation groups concerned about the pollution and adverse impacts (both short and long term) of the industrial scale aquaculture that is proliferating in Puget Sound. Local Chefs have also expressed concerns about the potential effects of these operations on the Sound.” There are no specific chefs, nor scientists named.
A key person in some of the organizations behind the lawsuit is Laura Hendricks. Laura has been at the center of this aquaculture controversy for over a decade. Hendricks has been an aggressive opponent of  both the aquaculture industry and other environmental organizations that don’t see eye to eye with her hardcore approach, which in the past has been looking to stop all geoduck farming in the South Sound.  Many of these other organizations recognize the need for support by the aquaculture industry for clean water efforts, as they are a powerful industry in the State that needs clean water to survive and thrive, and are often a major employer in small rural communities along the Sound. Many organizations have spent considerable efforts allying themselves with the industry for mutual goals, and industry leaders, such as Taylor Shellfish, have been very supportive of these joint efforts. This is not meant to say that the aquaculture industry  isn’t contributing to the controversy in their own way, as their representatives in groups such as the local Marine Resource Committees are often hard core industry promoters that attack any attempt to question any of their more controversial  issues. The industry also supports an aggressive lobbying effort in Olympia, that has had no real competitive organization to counter it’s demands over the last few years. Add to this the very effective public relations campaign that the industry uses which highlights the public’s love for shellfish.
When I  contacted, Ms. Hendricks she stated, ” …we challenged the Corps approval of and issuance of authorizations for many hundreds of individual projects.  We have also listed in the complaint (paragraph 64) five specific permits that were issued despite our detailed and well documented comments.  We are seeking to have the Corps suspend all the permits that will potentially cause harm to the Sound, until proper analysis is done.

We merely want the Corps to follow the law and not issue permits until the full and proper analysis already required by the environmental law has been done.  The Seafood industry should be supporting us, not fighting us.  Why?  Because if something is not done, the cumulative impacts of these projects will damage the Sound.  Then their industry will end up crashing, and they will not be able to sustain their businesses in the long term.  It will end up just like the other extractive industries have, over the years.  It will be a boom and bust, cut and run, situation sort of like what happened with the mining industry, the oil and gas industry, the timber industry, and the off shore fisheries industry.  The truth is simple, overharvest leads to population crash and environmental degradation.  In reality, rather than opposing us the current permit holders ought to be joining us and insisting that no more permits be issued until the studies on cumulative impacts are done.  That would give current permittees a competitive edge, and make their permits more valuable – look what it did to crab boat licenses in AK – and it would also help ensure that their projects don’t lead to destruction of the very resources that they rely upon for their livelihood.

 

No studies have ever looked at the cumulative impact of almost a 1,000 industrial scale projects in operation all at the same time.  Ask the SeaGrant people.  They have never been directed to do that kind of research.  They have only looked at short term impacts.  We are trying to prevent the death from a 1,000 cuts from happening to this Sound.  The law already requires the Corps to have conducted a cumulative impact analysis on the effects of all these permits.  Yet they have NEVER done one that takes into account the combined and synergistic impacts of the  huge number of permits they have already issued – to say nothing of the many more applications that are still pending.   

The entire geoduck controversy is compounded because the Tribes also lay claim to traditional  geoduck harvesting areas, and have treaty rights that allow them to grow and harvest the clams. It has been a significant source of income to some of the tribes. Taking care to work with the Tribes is a key element in balancing the environmental concerns and winning concessions for legislative efforts. No tribes are targeted in this suit, nor are they plaintiffs. However, it is unclear whether they would be affected by this suit if it is successful, as some tribes have recently expanded their geoduck farming activity, and I would assume that Army Corp of Engineers approvals were needed by them also. The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s and the Skokomish  permits are called out as two of a number of permits that were pending in April of 2016 by the Corp , and as such, appears might be suspended or withheld, if the case is successful. There are also a number of Jefferson County farms that are on the list highlighted by the lawsuit. Look at the spreadsheet on page 60 of the document.
The full text of the lawsuit.
 The text of the lawsuit press release.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 22, 2016

CONTACT: Laura Hendricks-Coalition (253) 509-4987
                 Karl Anuta-Attorney (503) 827-0320
                Thane Tienson-Attorney (503) 224-4100
The Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat announced that it has filed suit against the US Army Corps of Engineers, challenging the Seattle District of the Corps for its excessive issuance of shoreline aquaculture permits. The lawsuit, filed in Federal District Court for the Western District of Washington, outlines how the Seattle District has issued almost 1,000 permit verifications/registrations for industrial-scale shellfish operations in Puget Sound over the last four years, under a Nationwide Clean Water Act Permit (#48) – but it claims that the Corps has never done a cumulative impact analysis of the effects of all those permits on the Sound, the Orcas and salmon of the Sound, and the many other resources.  Nor, claims the Coalition, has the Corps evaluated the cumulative impacts of these operations on the people who live and recreate in the Sound.
The Coalition is an alliance of citizens, scientists and conservation groups concerned about the pollution and adverse impacts (both short and long term) of the industrial scale aquaculture that is proliferating in Puget Sound. Local Chefs have also expressed concerns about the potential effects of these operations on the Sound.
“We tried repeatedly to get the Corps to stop issuing these permits, until an evaluation of the cumulative effects of all this nearshore habitat degradation and massive amount of PVC and High Density Polyethylene plastic pollution has been looked at.” said Laura Hendricks of the Coalition.
“We talked to them; we sent them many sets of detail written comments, along with more than 40 supporting studies. We even filed a Petition asking them to suspend the use of the permit here in Puget Sound, until the analysis of the cumulative effects were done. But they just kept issuing more registrations. They really left us no choice but to ask the federal courts to make them do their job and follow the law.” Hendricks lamented.
The suit alleges that the Corps violated the National Environmental Policy Act and the Clean Water Act, by not evaluating the cumulative impacts of issuance of so many registrations. “Our environmental laws require the Corps to fully evaluate the effects of these kinds of permits, and to not allow more than minimal harm.” said Curt Puddicombe of the Coalition.  “The Corps’ own records showed that in the first year of the current Nationwide permit, the Corps issued more than 800 registrations – over 3 times the number that it thought would be issued.  When that happened, the Corps had an obligation to step back and re-evaluate the cumulative effects. That is what any reasonable person would do, that is what the law requires, and that is certainly what we should expect a Federal agency charged by the law with protecting and restoring the waters of the Sound to do.” said Puddicombe.
“We recognize the shellfish production in Puget Sound should be an important component of a sustainable Northwest. But that production has to be done on a rational and sustainable scale.  A balanced approach is needed. Right now, the insane number of these registrations already issued, with another hundred applications already pending at the Corps, is converting Puget Sound into an industrial shellfish production site ignoring native aquatic species protection and restoration goals.” said Hendricks.
For more information, see attached lawsuit and our website at:

Gulf Of Mexico Open For Fish-Farming Business – NPR

NOAA continues its promotion of the aquaculture fish farming industry. Since the government destroyed huge swaths of the Gulf with its lack of stiff enforcement of oil drilling, now it has decided that fish farming there is a great idea. No environmentalists  anywhere in the world that have looked at this industry think it’s a good idea. And the fish farming industry and NOAA are targeting  opening  up the Salish Sea for more fish farming also.  Their science on it, when you read it, is missing key issues of investigation, such as long term affects of the bottom and the general larger habitat around the fish. The experience of fish farming in British Columbia, Norway and other locations, is one of vast overuse of antibiotics, needed because of dense packing in the cages, which create a vector for disease, like sea lice infestations that are infecting wild stocks that pass by the cages. Escaped farm fish compete with native species, coverups of massive problems with disease by the highly secretive farming industry and smear campaigns for highly credible scientists and their labs, including using the Government of Canada to arbitrarily shut down the labs involved after they publish their results (under the Harper and Christie government two and three  years ago) and a basic lack of concern for anything but their own bottom lines. While I support much of what NOAA does, this area is very suspiciously looking like it has been corrupted by the industry that it is supposed to be impartially regulating.

This is yet another example of a Democratic administration doing exactly what we would expect from a Republican one. It is the kind of arrogance towards our shared environment and the people of the Gulf that fuels the anger of the electorate towards Washington D.C. and the administrators there that choose business over the environment time and time again.  It’s worth remembering that Obama opened up offshore oil drilling against environmentalists concerns just weeks before the Gulf Spill in March 2010, saying it was ‘safe’ and that we had great safeguards. He was proven wrong in May of that year. He has since reopened drilling off the coast, even after the BP spill, against the wishes of Governors of those coastal states affected by the decision. Now he is opening up Gulf waters for large scale fish pens. We are also targeted for that same treatment, as fish farms are proposed west of Port Angeles at present time. The State demanded that counties not ban fish farming in their Shoreline Master Programs, and actually have held up approval of the Jefferson County SMP over that very issue. Luckily we have had Phil Johnson an ex-fisherman, fighting this issue with the State, but at present it is still legal to open a fish farm in Jefferson County, over the objections of both a scientific panel and a citizen advisory group of 20 citizens that included a shellfish farmer. When I questioned the previous head of the State of Washington Department of Ecology, he had no idea that it was even a problem worth addressing. The latest head of DOE is a lawyer as well as an administrator and she is unwilling to seriously discuss reversing her department’s decision.

To be clear, while I’m  disappointed in the administration for allowing this, voting in the opposition will simply make it worse, as the Republicans have never seen an environmental law they like. Just look at Flint Michigan for a great example of Republican oversight of the environment.  Our best efforts are to fight decisions like this in the courts, contact our representatives to make them aware of the public feelings on the issue, make it an issue at elections, and elect people like Phil Johnson who will fight against the influence of big money industries trading off the environment and our wild fish for short term profits.

To their credit, NPR does point out the  criticisms of this decision.

The Gulf of Mexico is now open for commercial fish farming. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced last month that, for the first time in the U.S., companies can apply to set up fish farms in federal waters. The idea is to compete with hard-to-regulate foreign imports. But opening the Gulf to aquaculture won’t be cheap, and it could pose environmental problems. Tegan Wendland reports. (NPR)

http://www.kplu.org/post/gulf-mexico-open-fish-farming-business

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