We are a group of citizens opposed to the continued expansion of industrial geoduck aquaculture on the fragile tidelands of Puget Sound. The shellfish industry believes that all available tidelands should be used for the intensive production of shellfish, particularly, geoducks, to sell primarily to markets outside of the country. Please join with us to protect these sensitive wildlife areas in Puget Sound.

Please sign the Coalition Petition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat Petition to stop enabling plastic and pesticide pollution in Puget Sound.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Geoduck mesh tubes made with HDPE - even more toxics in Puget Sound?

In their march for ever larger profits the geoduck shellfish industry wants to move from plastic PVC tubing to plastic black mesh tubing. Several tons per acre of PVC tubing was bad enough. The PVC manufacturing process and the recycling process produced extremely toxic by-products. And plastic PVC tubing was never intended for use in marine environments like Puget Sound. So there is no way of knowing how much toxic material has already been released from PVC pipe.

And the shellfish industry doesn’t seem to care. These are the same folks who thought bee-killing pesticides were fine to spray into Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor.

Now the shellfish industry wants to move to a different type of plastic mesh tubing made with High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) imported from China. They hope to reduce litter on the beaches and to make them less of an eyesore.


But is HDPE safe?

It turns out that the National Institutes for Health is concerned about HDPE and other plastics leaching Estrogenic Activators (EAs) into the food chain. These are the kinds of chemicals that have raised so much concern around BPA in plastics. With a geoduck farm using between 40,000 and 50,000 tubes per acre, we are talking about a serious amount of HDPE plastic in Puget Sound. Some of the proposed farms like the ones at Dungeness Spit and Burley Lagoon are around 25 acres or more. This means millions of tubes in repeating cycles of planting!

Not only did the NIH study show concerns about HDPE, there are two things that increase the release of Estrogenic Activators:


UV light

That’s right, salt water and sunlight. Sound like Puget Sound?

You can read the NIH study here:

Surely our state agencies will protect us from this potential chemical hazard, right? Don’t count on it. Our tone-deaf Department of Ecology was marching in lock-step with the industry around the bee-killing Imidacloprid insecticide. They still approve the use of the herbicide Imazamox in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor (enjoy those oysters, you shellfish gourmets!) They probably won’t put any attention on this issue and just rubber-stamp the approval. If ever there was a case of regulatory capture our Department of Ecology is it. A poster child for a Harvard Business review study!

The shellfish industry will march us all right over this cliff. HDPE plastics in Puget Sound - what’s one more toxic shock to a marine environment already in trouble? The shellfish industry pretends to be environmentally conscious, but that is just a slight-of-hand to distract you so they can get to those big profits.

There is nothing natural about a geoduck farm and they are a threat to the environment of Puget Sound.

Monday, August 10, 2015

“Puget Sound is trashed, and will be forever.” – So says a University of Washington scientist.

Dr. Alan Trimble is a University of Washington research biologist who works on shellfish issues in Puget Sound and coastal waters. He was commenting in a public venue about a permit controversy in Oysterville and made this comment in a part of his testimony:

“So, my two-cents-worth as a scientist is this: Puget Sound is trashed, and will be forever. So is Chesapeake Bay, so is Willapa Bay: if you look at it from the perspective of what it used to be, it is nothing like it used to be. In case you haven’t noticed, there’s almost nothing left of what it used to be, species-wise. It’s dominated by introduced species that we farm, trees that are planted at ridiculous densities to be harvested to make paper, and a few houses. It is nothing like it used to be. “

Wow, that’s pretty strong language.

When we fly into Seattle or pass by Puget Sound waters we don’t have the immediate experience that the place is “trashed”. But those of us who live on the water know exactly what Dr. Trimble means. The industrial aquaculture industry has upended the natural environment of Puget Sound shorelines and they are indeed “trashed”.

The latest controversy about the bee-killing Imidacloprid pesticide use in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor is just the tip of the iceberg. The shellfish industry is destroying the natural functions of the tidelands in Puget Sound to grow geoduck clams for export to an Asian luxury market.  And they are trashing Puget Sound as they go – disrupting natural species balances, destroying critical habitat for birds and other wildlife, and removing important recreational places that we all love.

How did this happen?

Well, it’s called corruption. It is not the illegal bribery type of corruption, but the legal process of political contributions, legislative strong-arming, paid science, well-healed PR firms that lobby at the local, state and federal levels, free shellfish dinners for environmental organizations, and a bevy of highly paid lawyers. The result is that our own Department of Ecology thought it was just fine to spray the pesticide Imidacloprodid into Willapa Bay until the chefs in Seattle heard about it. The shellfish industry still thinks it is a fine thing, and they are still pushing for it.  If you think that issue went away, you are sadly na├»ve. The Department of Ecology has NOT rescinded their permit to the shellfish industry to spray Imazamox (Raptor) on Willapa Bay.

What has happened in Totten Inlet is the future of Puget Sound. Non-native oysters and other non-native shellfish, proliferation of pest species like tunicates on the shellfish industry muscle rafts, 90+% of all tidelands in Totten Inlet filled with industrial geoducks, clams bags, oysters bags, rebar, thousands of PVC pipes in the tidelands, large canopy nets that trap eagles and preclude other species from their normal feeding ground, and an industry that is considering genetically modified geoducks to counter problems brought by climate change.

So, yes, Puget Sound has been trashed. That was a pretty accurate description of things as they are now. We may not see the more dramatic results of this for some time to come, but make no mistake that Dr. Trimble was not exaggerating.

If you want to see what a geoduck farm actually looks like, you will find some photos here: