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/

Proposal for Hood Canal geoduck farm dropped – PDN

This is not as simple as it sounds. Mr. Kimmel, from sources that I talked to, had figured that if he simply planted the farm that the county would, if challenged, just give him the permit. Unfortunately for him, it angered neighbors who alerted some activists that are not in favor of geoduck farm expansion, and a number of other environmental groups in that county also joined in.

For those unaware of the issue, with the value of geoducks skyrocketing due to Chinese demand, there is enormous pressure to turn as many possible good beach locations into farms as possible. The South Sound has been a hotbed of angry legal battles from environmental groups such as the Sierra Club, who’s chapter there  has made it the only thing it apparently fights. Taylor Shellfish, who are the leading, but not only company in that area, are the ones that get many of the lawsuits.

The problems that these geoduck farms cause are not easily apparent. Everyone loves shellfish and many consumers in urban areas are not aware of the problems that people living along the shore face. People who moved down into these beautiful bays, may have assumed a peaceful quiet location far from urban activity. In the winter, when the harvest of geoducks is in full swing (due to Chinese end of year festivities) the low tides are often late at night. Homeowners can be kept awake for many hours from the diesel generator activity as the divers and beach workers blast the sand away to get at the geoducks.  There is also wide spread netting of the beaches in the startup phase (the farms rotate a five year crop, planting successive beach areas, so they are planting and harvesting every year), sometimes in front of homeowners beaches, as the farms can sometimes be licensed in the tidal zone that is often legally in the state’s legal jurisdiction, due to our unusual State Constitution, that defined aquaculture as fundamental to the State. There is much concern about environmental destruction of the beaches from repeated geoduck farming and harvest, but a 7 year study by Washington Sea Grant, supported by some environmental organizations, did not find long term problems that would cause enough concern to ban the farming. It did ask for more research on the issues they raised, but that was not supported by the shellfish industry, which funds many of these efforts. Since the collapse of People For Puget Sound, which was the most effective organization in working on these issues with the shellfish industry, the industry has pretty much had run of the legislature, and left their opposition to fighting the battle only in the courts. They have had some limited success in suing, but it has not really stopped or even slowed the expansion of geoduck farming, as new farms are being put in on the Dungeness river estuary, and off the east side of Indian Island. Tribes have been farming and harvesting geoducks as well, as is their right. This issue described below is more about non-tribal farm expansion.

———————————————
A controversial proposal for a geoduck and oyster farm on Hood Canal is being pulled. The Kitsap Sun reported that according to Kitsap County planners, Scott Kimmel, the owner of New Day Fisheries, has decided not to pursue permit applications for the project.(Associated Press)

Read the short story at the PDN.

 http://peninsuladailynews.com/article/20141228/NEWS/312289945/proposal-for-hood-canal-geoduck-farm-dropped

Petition for Action Targets Shellfish Farm Operations

It’s unclear what, if any action has been taken by the EPA since this was sent in.
The Center for Biological Diversity filed a EPA petition for action on July 24, 2014 regarding PVC, including PVC pipe and how it degrades (see pages 14-15 of PDF). This petition is in addition to their 2012 EPA petition for action on plastic pollution which included plastic nets, plastic rope and rubber bands.
PVC pipe, plastic nets, plastic rope and rubber bands are used extensively by the shellfish industry in Puget Sound and Willapa Bay/Grays Harbor where citizens continue to pick up increasing amounts of this plastic pollution on the shorelines.
July 2014-EPA PVC Petition (Mentions PVC and PVC pipe-Note:Over 40,000 PVC pipes go into every acre of geoduck aquaculture)

http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/ocean_plastics/pdfs/PVC_RCRA.pdf

August 2012-EPA Plastic Pollution Petition (Mentions rubber bands, plastic rope and nets–Note:same materials that shellfish aquaculture uses)
Read the petition and the science behind it at:

China To Lift Ban On West Coast Shellfish – Earthfix

Finally ended, not sure what the true story on this is. Canada has made out like bandits due during this time, due to the fact that they were not included in the ban. Many say it was a political retribution from China, but no one knows for sure.  

http://earthfix.kuow.org/flora-and-fauna/article/china-lifts-ban-on-us-shellfish/

China will lift its ban on imports of geoduck clams and other shellfish from the West Coast, according to a statement from Washington Congressman Derek Kilmer… Chinese officials sent a letter Friday to the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration advising the federal agency the ban would be lifted. The letter stated Chinese officials were satisfied with NOAA’s proposed plans for new monitoring and testing requirements for paralytic shellfish poisoning and inorganic arsenic, which would meet China’s food safety requirements. Tony Schick reports. (EarthFix)

China Wants Better Testing For Arsenic In US Shellfish Exports – Earthfix

For the first time, U.S. officials reported on recent meetings in Beijing to discuss China’s ban on shellfish imports from most of the West Coast. Ashley Ahern reports for Earthfix.

Listen or read the whole story at:

http://nwpr.org/post/china-wants-better-testing-arsenic-us-shellfish-exports

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:

http://coalitiontoprotectpugetsoundhabitat.org/

http://washington.sierraclub.org/tatoosh/Aquaculture/index.asp

Geoducks test OK, but what’s behind Chinese ban? – Puget Sound Blogs

Chris Dunagan explores the Chinese geoduck ban. Very good read on this issue. This gives the overview on what else besides actual supposed high levels of arsenic might be at play here, and some thoughts from university and government officials.

Now it is up to Chinese officials to decide upon shellfish imports to their country, as uncomfortable as that may be for U.S exporters. I’ve begun to learn about international trade policies to better understand the confusing actions of Chinese health authorities. Chris Dunagan blogs on the intricacies of international trade warfare.

 http://pugetsoundblogs.com/waterways/2014/01/09/geoducks-test-ok-but-whats-behind-chinese-ban/#axzz2pySpSefh

%d bloggers like this: