Army Corps of Engineers sued again for its poor regulation of Washington State’s shellfish industry

This 3 Jan. 2022 email from Laura Hendricks, the Director of the Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat:

Dear Interested Party in Puget Sound and the Washington Coast,

The Center for Food Safety and Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat has once again sued the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) for not doing their job-regulating shellfish industry expansion and the harm to our Washington State marine life. The Corps re-issued the shellfish aquaculture permits with even broader terms, longer permits and without cumulative impacts analysis or meaningful mitigation. The Corps ignored Judge Lasnik and the appeals court 2020 ruling that the 900+ Washington State shellfish aquaculture permits were “unlawful.”

These re-issued Corps permits Do Not Stop ANY: (a). plastic pollution from the millions of pieces of PVC and High Density Polyethylene shellfish gear placed in Washington waters, (b). pesticides used to kill eelgrass and marine life (c). tractors and clam harvesting machines destroying native marine life and habitat (see attached).

Citizens have voiced for years their concerns at County and State meetings and were constantly faced with the shellfish industry telling these regulators that the Corps would protect our marine life as they had the expertise. So, we saw Counties and State agencies approve permits just as the shellfish industry lobbied for.

We constantly hear about the massive amount of taxpayer money being spent on Puget Sound and coastal restoration in the name of saving Orcas and salmon. At the same time decision makers ignore the continued takeover of our bays, coves and spits by industrial shellfish aquaculture. Each year the Puget Sound Partnership publishes their State of The Sound report with their shellfish harvesting goal met as eelgrass and herring decline. Scientists who had the courage to testify about the harm of industrial aquaculture to eelgrass and herring continue to be ignored.

Citizens did not protest the old-fashioned way of raising oysters on the beach with minimal plastics; however, the conversion of  beaches to industrial geoduck operations and adding massive numbers of invasive non-native Manila clams covered in HDPE canopy netting was too destructive to ignore. Our organization has been accused of trying to put the shellfish industry out of business. The truth is that we have been asking County, State and Federal regulators to stop this expansion with the industrial practices for 15 years-and only lip service-with no protections has been seen.

It is now time for the Corps– who the shellfish industry said would protect our Orcas, salmon and the myriad of marine life that makes Puget Sound and our coastlines unique—to do just that. Counties in the meantime need to protect their marine life from industrial shellfish harm until the Corps does their job since State agencies also remain silent.

Conservation Groups Sue Army Corps: (includes lawsuit link)

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