JOURNAL OF OPINION Claims about a clam Getting the by Armaggedon


                                                                A geoduck is not the most pleasing creature to behold.
                                                             Even so, the aesthetics of commercial harvesting of
Claims about a clam .-                                       the world's largest burrowing clam have less to do
                                                             with a comely form than with aquaculture techniques
   Getting the goods on the geoduck is proving to be a
daunting task, with the state funding a flurry ofstudies     that can make an otherwise unblemished beach look
that revolve around culti vation of the world's largest      like a plumber's paradise. Geoduck farmers will plant
burrowing clam. What does it do to the sediment? Will        a multitude of geoduck on a given beach and then
the sand dollar be dislodged? How much turbulence is         enshrine each one in a pipe as a way of protecting the
tolerable?                                                   young clams against predators.
   The turbulence under study is measured by the size           Taylor Shellfish and other companies with aninterest
of the grains of sand kicked up by the rank and file of      in the aquaculture industry funded Fisher's work.
geoduck on tidelands seeded by Taylor Shellfish, one of      Still to be heard from are the authors of three studies
the county's biggest employers. However, turbulence          commissioned by the Washington State Department
of another kind has attended Taylor's efforts to take        of Ecology that will follow the same scientific trails
advantage of a proposal to lease state tidelands to          blazed by the preliminary study. Jules Michel of
companies with a stake in the $4.6 million generated         Shelton has high hopes that the studies commissioned
in a typical year by the harvesting of geoduck               by the state will clarifY claims that there is "not
in Washington. Leases would be granted by the                one shred of scientific evidence" showing negative
Washington State Department of Natural Resources,            effects of the pipes and call into question the claim
an agency charged with extracting economic value                                                that geoduck farms
from lands under its control and encouraged to do                                               improve water quality
so through geoduck by votes of the Washington                                                   because the world's
Legislature.                                                   WHO WROTE largest burrowing
                                                                                                clam filters pollutants
   People living near tidelands in Mason County                        WHAT:                    from the water. He
being considered for the leasing program have been             "Oh Oysters, come                writes: "In the case
vocal in their opposition to the leasing program. Bill         and walk with us!"
                                                               The Walrus did beseech.          of geoduck farming,
Burrows spoke for many on April 25 when he attended                                             the ecological impact
a meeting on this subject with state officials at the          "A pleasant walk,
                                                               a pleasant talk,                 froll). the periodic
Harstine Island Community Hall. His remarks were                                                disturbances      from
                                                               Along the briny beach."
supported in a letter written by D.L. Stave of Shelton            - Lewis Carroll, 1832·98      cultivation        and
to Washington Commissioner of Public Lands Doug                                                 harvesting most likely
Sutherland that states: "Basically, we question the                                             negates any marginal
science, or lack of same, regarding the effect such a
                                                             filtering provided by geoducks."
program will have on the environment and strongly
object to the simple fact that the leasing program will         Michel recently recruited Rebecca Goldberg of the
remove from the public domain a valued and limited           Environmental Defense Fund into his cause by quoting
resource."                                                   a paper she wrote to the effect that "aquaculture
                                                             systems can produce large quantities of polluting
   For its part, Taylor takes heart in a preliminary
                                                             wastes, as with other forms of animal production."
study by Jeffrey P. Fisher of Environ International
Corporation of Seattle of geoduck and other creatures           On the one hand the future of the leasing program
to be found in the tidelands. He looked at "turbidity         may be determined by whether the state-funded studies
and suspended solids" at the Foss Farm in August of          confirm or contradict results of the preliminary study
last year as well as the effect of geoduck cultivation on    funded by the shellfish companies. The other hand
the populations of crab, shrimp, snails, starfish and         will weigh the interests of people living by the beach
sand dollars at Hunter Point. A third component of            against the interests of people looking for ajob. Here's
his study based on samples taken in October of last           hoping the new round of studies will be valid and the
year measured levels of nitrates and phosphorous at a         state will find a middle road that can be traveled by
geoduck farm on Eld Inlet in October.                         those on both sides of this debate.
   Fisher concluded that, based on published reports
and current research, "geoduck culture and harvesting
appear to have minimal effects" on other creatures
in the tidelands and "any impacts that do occur are
restricted to near fields and are relatively short-lived."
He also offered the opinion that any disturbance that
does occur is "insignificant" when compared to the
damage done by storms and shoreline development
and the issue is "aesthetic, not biological."
                                          pia 5 rs p
    The world's largest bur-   on would have to be crazy,"     are questioning claims that
rowing clam. i       getting   said Puddicombe.                the cultivation of geoduck
worked over pretty good by                                     improves water quality and
researcher and residents          WILLIAM BURROWS              objecting to the prospect of
as official con ider a pro-    wrote an open letter on the     sharing the tidelands.
posal to lease state tide-     subject on behalf of a group
                               calling itself the Concerned       This marks the first
land to companies that                                         time that the tate has
cultivate the geoduck.         Citizens of Harstine and
                               Stretch Island. He said         considered leasing publicly
    Har tine I lander found    that while the DNR is only      owned tidelands to people
themselves at ground Zel"O     fulfilling the intent of the    who traffic in geoduck,
of t.he geoduck debate as a    Washington        Legislature   though Jane Chevy of the
result of proposals by the     "it is clear by the almost      DNR make the point that
Washington State Depart-                                       the state tidelands have
                               unanimous opposition that
ment. of Natmal Resourc-                                       been leased to companies
es to lea e ttu-ee acre at     their actions are inconsis-
                                                               that cultivate oysters and
Wi! on Point and Fudge         tent with public feelings."     other kinds of clams for
Point as well as two acres     He stated:                      more than a hundred years.
at SU'etch I land to com-         "While efforts are under     ''We've got clams and oys-
mercial enterprises. A one-    way to change the politi-       ters and all kinds of shell-
acre parcel at Wil on has      cal landscape that created      fish that are a real asset to
been taken
off the activ
lL t 'for fi cal  'While efforts are under way to change
rea on , and
till'ee more
beache        in
                    the political landscape that created
Ma 'on Coun-
ty are in an
                 this problem, the shellfish industry is in a
earlier stage
of develop-
                   unique position to stop this program,
ment:       two
and a half                and do so immediately.'
acres on the
ea tern shore of Stretch       this problem the shellfish      this state" she said.
three acre at Fudge and        industry is in a unique po-        ACTS OF THE legisla-
one acre on the western        sition to stop this program,    ture have opened the door
  hore of Stretch.             and do so immediately.          to geoduck developments.
    Cw't. Puddicombe is        There are many thousands        During their 2003 session,
a     pOl,tsfisherman from     of acres of privately owned     lawmakers directed the
Vaughn who worries that        beaches in Puget Sound          DNR to address the issue
the tubes used to protect      with whom the shellfish in-     of geoduck aquaculture on
young geoduck from pred-       dustry may partner to sup-      state-owned lands and ap-
ators and element will         port their activites."          propriated $265,000 to the
interfere with his quest          Companies interested in      Geoduck Aquaculture Pilot
for tastier prey. Geoduck      the proposed leasing pro-       Pl·oject. Research and mon-
have been known to grow        gram are applying for the       itoring are key components
to 1.9 pound , but theil'      necessary perInits, con-        of this pl'ocess with Chevy
d lectability is questioned    ducting biological surveys      making the point that the
by this salmon fan. "My        and negotiating sharing         state wants to make ure
grandmoth r us d to chop       agreements with Indian          that geoduck cultivation
it up to make cbowd rand       tribes that have treaty         on public tideland doe
my dad and I used t joke       rights affected by propo ed     not adversely affect the en-
ahout it that· nybody who      lea e . Meanwhile, people       vil·oument.
would prefer that to salm-     living near Wilson Point           "We are trying to do thi

                                                                         Journal photo by Frank Isaac

Two men work the line at a company that processes shellfish in Mason
County. The industry is a major provider of employment here.
in a very measured way,
                               00 5                                ebat
trying to get good informa-
tion and see where the mad
takes us," she aid.
   During la t year se-
 ion lawmakers approved
the pending of $750 000
through Bouse Bill 2220
on r search into geoduck
aquacultur      and earlier
thi year the Dniver ity
of Washington Sea Grant
made grant of the e funds
to three major 1'e eaJ:ch
projects. One will look into
the geochemical and eco-
logical consequences of dis-
turbances associated with
geoduck aquacultur op-
erations, and another will
           study the inter-
           action of cul-
           tured and wild
           geoduck popula-
            tion . Thi five-
           year tudy will
           provide baseline
           data on disease
           prevalence     in
            wild    geoduck
           The third tudy
           looks at the ef-
fect of geoduck cultivation
on the foliage in ami h
Bay, where a new eelgrass
meadow ha been e tab-                                                       Journal photo by Fronk 'se3£
li hed since geoduck were
planted in 2002.
                               A man digging on the beach for hellfi h takes a
                               real close ook at a little critter he has found.
    Jule Michel of hel-
 ton has conducted a vigor-
 ous conespondence on the to en ure that people under-          Puget ound Treaty Tribe .
 subject with a number of        tand geoduck i ues and            The DNR will manage
 letters taking other corre- that good scientific informa-      it    geoduck aqu culture
 spondents to task for pub- tion is available to manage         progI'am based on new ci-
lic statem nts they have geoduck aquaculture.                    ntific data and monitor the
 made about the cience of          Wa hington'     fir t ex-    environm nta! eBect for
 geoduck cultivation and periments in geoduck en-               10 year at least, thi being
 the claim that the clam .      hancement occurr d in the       the time frame of one full
 an environm nta! plu . He eal'1y Nineti ,when young            cycle of ge duck quacul-
 wrote: "Studie upporting geoducks were grown at                tuxe operations. M Dilaring
 oysters' ability to filter and a tate-operated hatchery        will be done at three aqua-
 clean watel' cannot be used and dropped onto the sea-          culture sites with a beach
to support the claim that bed. Enhancement efforts              in Jefferson Count      erv-
geoducks fight pollution."      were topp d when officials      ing as the state' outpost
    IN HER REPORT on found that the                   urvival   on Hood anal. The moni-
the e studie to the Wa h-       rate of young geoducks by       toring program j xpected
ington hellfish A uacul- thi method wa very low.                to provide cientific data on
ture Regulatory Committee Partner in the new tudie              how geoduck aquacultUl'e
Raechel Wat rs of Wash- include Pacific Shellii h In-           affects beach sediments as
ington Sea Grant referred stitute, the Washington De-           well a the animals and
to indication that geoduck pal" ment of' and ild-               plan tha li 'e in and on
aquacultUl'e is a potentially life and the treaty tribe of      th ediment.
valuable indu try for the
  tate. Geoduc exported to
Asia can fetch prices of up
to $30 pel' pound, fueling a
                               David's sale helps fund good works
mal:ket currently estimated        Saint David s Episcopal      at noon on the second day of
at about $80 million an-        ChUl'ch will conduct its an-    the fund-raiser will be sold at
nually in Washington and nual rummag and bake sale              half price.
British Columbia.               on eptember 5-6.                   A bake sale will     0 take
                                   The e ent will tak place     plac . Sh pper will find both
    "Wa hington Sea Grant from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the          a counter and table arranged
. working to pull together parish hall at 218 North Third       close to tb kitch n covered
the be     dentist identify Streetin downtown Shelton. A        with cooki ,pie, cake and
key research needs and dis- variety of quality secondhand       breads made from favorite
seminate findings to the items contributed by chmch             recipes.
people who need them" members and friends will be                  Proceed from thi event
  aid Penny Dalton of Sea for sale. Item will rang fl.-om       ar a SOlU"ce of income for the
Grant. '"We are committed books, clothing, holiday decor        general fund of the church,
to marine habitat protec- and hou ehold wares to office         Thi in tum enabl the ap-
tion and su tamable e of and landscape equ.ipm nt.              port of community outreach
ocean re ourc . Our goal i        Any rummage item left         program .

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