Olympic Forest Coalition Files Suit Against Coast Seafoods

It will be interesting to see what comes of this new lawsuit. There have been a number of concerns raised by citizens in the area surrounding Coast, as to changes in the Bay waters. We’ll see if we can get more information on the specifics.

Olympic Forest Coalition, based in Quilcene, Washington, has filed a lawsuitagainst Coast Seafoods Company under Section 505 of the Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. § 1365, for alleged Clean Water Act violations. Located on the shorelines of Quilcene Bay, Coast Seafoods claims to have increased its production of spat (baby oysters) from a capacity of approximately 8 billion annually to 40 billion annually over the past 5 years, which is apparently creating much higher levels of effluent, including “oyster poop,” discharged into the bay. The effluent includes excessive amounts of ammonia nitrogen and other solids that appear to OFCO to create problems for fish, shellfish, and pursuit-diving birds such as marbled murrelets, loons, cormorants, and grebes. OFCO believes that Coast Seafoods filters the incoming water from the bay, but does not filter effluent being flushed back into the bay.

The lawsuit claims that Coast Seafoods uses numerous pipes, ditches, channels and other discernible, confined and discrete conveyances to discharge effluent from its indoor, land-based oyster facilities to the adjacent beach, Quilcene Bay and Puget Sound.

Because the facility uses pipes and ditches to discharge to the bay, conveyances the Clean Water Act clearly and unambiguously defines as “point sources,” the lawsuit alleges that discharges of pollutants from the facility are illegal and in violation of Section 30l(a) of the Clean Water Act because they are not authorized by an NPDES permit. The primary goal of the lawsuit is to reduce water pollution to Quilcene Bay.

Kampmeier & Knutsen, PLLC in Seattle, Washington, represents OFCO in the lawsuit.

Willapa Bay Oyster Farmers Ask State Again For Permission To Use Neurotoxin -KPLU

Here we go again. Oyster farmers have decided to risk public outrage and possible boycott on all shellfish by feeling a need to spray these poisons. The public seems to feel (and the industry markets itself) that oysters come out of the ocean or Sound, are in a “natural” state and as such aren’t tainted by human poisons. Last year’s public call by restaurants to boycott all shellfish seem to be lost on the industry out in Willapa Bay. It appears another boycott is called for. They have to find another way, or clearly label their products. Perhaps if shrimp are destroying the beds and no other option is available, then they need to end the growing of oysters there. But it seems that with all the spraying over multiple years, that if they cannot control it, they have lost the game. Maybe an option would be to have label for oysters that signifies a non sprayed product, like an organic label. The question that this raises is “what is a sustainable industry, and at what price?” To be poisoning an entire ecosystem on behalf of a small group of shellfish growers, seems to be an unfair trade off for the public at large. It appears to be a violation of the public trust, in both senses of that phrase. This Bay, with it’s vast ecological framework, is a public trust for this and future generations,and it could  be argued in court that by continuing to use a systemic chemical that appears to not work over the long term, that the oystermen and the WSDoE is putting this ecosystem at risk. 

Oyster farmers in Willapa Bay are asking the Washington State Department of Ecology for permission, again, to use a neurotoxic chemical to get rid of native shrimp. Large numbers of the burrowing shrimp are turning the tide flats into quicksand, making the land unusable for growing oysters. The chemical, imidacloprid, would paralyze the shrimp. They would suffocate and die. Jennifer Wing reports. (KPLU)
http://www.kplu.org/post/willapa-bay-oyster-farmers-ask-state-again-permission-use-neurotoxin

My friend Joe Breskin, commented on this issue the other day on Google+.

What they did not want the public to know was that the mudflats where the non-native Pacific Oysters are grown have been getting sprayed with this stuff since 1963, and that the stuff – delivered from helicopters as a wettable powder – drifts great distances and poisons its way up and down the entire food-web, killing or damaging everything with a nervous system from the surface of the water to over 3′ down (where the native shrimp live) – from sand fleas to salmon – as well as birds and bees, and although the growers describe spraying “empty” oyster beds in sequence, like a crop rotation, the stuff is aerial sprayed on mudflats at low tide and drifts significant distances, affecting everything alive, and since 1984 Carbaryl had been sprayed directly across active oyster beds. Drift covers thousands of additional acres, carried by the tides beyond the target areas, and in its wake dying creatures struggle to the surface to die, where they are picked up and carried off by gulls and crows as well as the smaller shorebirds: dowitchers, dunlins, plovers, turnstones. and whimbrels.

Poacher draws 5 1/2 years in prison after investigation by WDFW Police

There has been a number of people wondering about who were poaching  these oysters.

SEATTLE – The former owner of a shellfish company based in Jefferson County was sentenced today to 5½ years in prison after a poaching investigation by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) proved he and his employees had stolen millions of oysters and clams off Washington beaches.

Rodney Allan Clark, 50, former owner of G&R Quality Seafood in Quilcene, pleaded guilty in King County Superior Court to 17 counts of trafficking in stolen property and one count of reckless endangerment for selling shellfish to the public without a state health certification.

Clark was also ordered to return to court next month for a hearing to determine restitution for the shellfish he and his employees stole from beaches in Jefferson and Kitsap counties.

Eight of Clark’s former employees, some of whom cooperated with the investigation, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor fishing violations in previous court appearances and received a combination of fines and jail time.

Clark’s sentencing marked the end of a high-profile case that was delayed for nearly a year after the former convict jumped bail in 2013 and fled the state. He was finally extradited from Hawaii under a warrant signed by Gov. Jay Inslee the following year.

Court records describe how a tip from a shellfish inspector for the Washington Department of Health prompted WDFW to open its investigation of G&R Quality Seafood in April 2009.

According to the health inspector, a shellfish buyer reported buying thousands of Clark’s oysters, which made some of his customers in Yakima and the Tri-Cities sick.

For the next 11 months, WDFW detectives developed a case on Clark and his employees, documenting their activities as they illegally harvested shellfish at night on isolated beaches in Jefferson and Kitsap counties. The detectives also monitored the movement of the stolen shellfish to King County, where Clark and his employees sold it at a profit to restaurants, fish markets, and seafood wholesalers.

WDFW Police Chief Steve Crown estimates that Clark and his employees illegally harvested more than $2 million worth of oysters and clams from publicly and privately owned beaches, but said the true value of the stolen shellfish may never be known.

“These poachers stripped entire beaches of oysters and clams, and recklessly sold uncertified shellfish for public consumption,” Crown said. “This was a crime against the people and the natural resources of our state, and we made it a priority to get their ringleader off the street and shut his operation down.”

In March 2010, the WDFW Police seized thousands of documents detailing the operations of G&R Quality Seafood after obtaining a warrant to search Clark’s office in Quilcene and other properties. Several other agencies participated in those raids, including the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and the U.S. Coast Guard.

Based on WDFW’s investigation, Clark was charged in King County Superior Court in December 2011, but was released on bail pending trial. In December 2013, he failed to appear for a pretrial court date, leading to an interstate search that led first to Alaska, then to Hawaii.

Clark, who previously served a prison sentence for drug offenses in Montana, was eventually arrested in Hawaii and extradited to Washington state under a warrant issued last year by Gov. Inslee.

“We’d like to thank all the agencies that helped us bring Rodney Allan Clark to justice, particularly the King County Prosecutor’s Office,” Crown said. “If the prosecutor hadn’t agreed to pursue this case, Rodney Clark would probably still be out on the oyster beds, plundering the state’s natural resources.”

Shellfish growers support effort to reduce ‘bad oyster’ illness – Skagit Valley Herald

I wonder what the downsides of this possible bill are. Would it hurt smaller growers who maybe can’t afford to wait out the closure? Any growers want to comment?

Vibrio can be bad news for those who savor raw oysters — and the businesses that sell them. Vibrio is a naturally occurring bacteria that thrives in warm temperatures and can cause intestinal distress to those eating contaminated shellfish. While cooking can kill Vibrio in oysters, many consumers prefer them raw…. historically, closures don’t happen until after people get sick. Now, the state is proposing a change to proactive regulations that would base closures on weather conditions favorable to Vibrio parahaemoliticus bacteria, rather than waiting until illnesses are confirmed. Kimberly Cauvel reports. (Skagit Valley Herald)

http://www.goskagit.com/all_access/shellfish-growers-support-effort-to-reduce-bad-oyster-illness/article_59a8fbcd-e929-5797-af3c-1f91bfcd94bb.html

Ocean acidification a culprit in commercial shellfish hatcheries’ failures – phsy.org

More news on the science coming in that definitively is pointing to Ocean Acidification being the culprit in hatchery mortality rates here.

The mortality of larval Pacific oysters in Northwest hatcheries has been linked to ocean acidification. Yet the rate of increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the decrease of pH in near-shore waters have been questioned as being severe enough to cause the die-offs. Now, a new study of Pacific oyster and Mediterranean mussel larvae found that the earliest larval stages are sensitive to saturation state, rather than carbon dioxide (CO2) or pH (acidity) per se. Saturation state is a measure of how corrosive seawater is to the calcium carbonate shells made by bivalve larvae, and how easy it is for larvae to produce their shells. A lower saturation rate is associated with more corrosive seawater. Cheryl Dybas reports. (PHYS.ORG)

http://phys.org/news/2014-12-ocean-acidification-culprit-commercial-shellfish.html

And this article follows on it.

http://phys.org/news/2014-11-tool-west-coast-ocean-acidification.html#inlRlv

For those wanting to understand the science behind “saturation state” you can find the definition down this page. Just “find” saturation state when you get to it. The formula is there.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocean_acidification

Raw oysters sicken 12, prompt shellfish harvest closure and recall – Seattle Times

Oops. Apparently a leaking septic system was to blame. This affects a wide range of fresh oysters in many states. Read the article for more information. Environmental organizations have pushed for well over a decade to get counties to force mandatory inspections of septic systems. However, public outcry against doing it, especially in counties like Mason, have forced voluntary programs. And this is the kind of outcome that happens. Haven been made sick from oysters myself, I can tell you it isn’t fun. I spent almost a week in bed once from the experience, and really felt like I was dying.

Washington state health officials have ordered an emergency harvest closure and a multistate recall of all shellfish from a portion of Mason County’s Hammersley Inlet after at least a dozen people who ate raw oysters became ill. (Seattle Times)

http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2025219127_shellfishrecallxml.html

As Oysters Die, Climate Policy Goes on the Stump – NY Times

Billions of baby oysters in the Pacific inlets here are dying and Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington is busy spreading the bad news…. The Democratic governor, aided by what is expected to be millions of dollars from his billionaire friend Tom Steyer, is using the story of Washington’s oysters — scientists say a rise in carbon levels has spiked the acidity of the Pacific and is killing off shellfish — to make the case for passing the most far-reaching climate change policies in the nation. Coral Davenportaug reports. (NY Times)

Read the rest of the story here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/04/us/as-oysters-die-climate-policy-goes-on-stump.html

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