Shellfish Farming Dispute on the Puget SoundBy eflaherty | March 8th, 2009 | Category: Blog, Environment |
I have recently read an interesting article about a long-time dispute that I had no idea was going on. The article was in the Seattle Times by Michelle Ma.
For the past 15 years there has been a dispute between a “coalition of neighbors numbering in the hundreds” and Taylor Shellfish. Taylor Shellfish is a company that grows and ships oysters, muscles, and clams in Washington state. They own or lease 10,000 acres around the Puget Sound and plan on continuing to grow. The property owners surrounding Taylor’s lands are banding together against the company because they feel as though the company is ruining their beaches. They are making it hard for other creatures to reside there and turning the beaches into nothing more then industrial sites.
Taylor disputes that growing the shellfish actually helps the land. They also say they have done as much as they can, aside from going away, to address the resident’s issues with the company. They have even gone as far as to match the color of the pipes that are laid into the beach to match the surrounding sand as to minimize the visual impact that growing has.
The biggest impact, residents say, are the growing of geoducks. To grow and harvest them, water is pumped though the pipes that are dug into the ground, this then liquefies the sand, making it easier to scoop up the geoducks. After the harvesting is finished, the company claims that the beaches are then restored within a couple of weeks. The surrounding residents disagree. They claim the pipes disrupt the sandy beaches, which in turn has an affect on the other creatures that feed there. One resident claims that they have simply turned the land into a factory.
It is hard to put the argument to rest because the environmental impacts of harvest geoducks are still not understood. In 2007, the legislature granted $750,000 to look into the issue. It is unsure whether the funding will continue, however, due to the budget deficit. The state is also creating specific guidelines to how and where the farming can occur, but it is still up to each county on how to regulate them. The residents complain that the state is the one who should do the overseeing.
The Taylor company can be very environmentally conscience. They regularly help clean up the beaches in the area and identify sources of pollution along the waters. Their livelihood is completely dependent upon having clean waters. This fact does not convince any of the surrounding residents to change their mind about the company, however.
To read more on the dispute go to the original article about it at:
To look at Taylor Shellfish Farms site go to:
To look look at some opposition to geoduck farming go to: