Letters to the Editor

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PUGET SOUND: Shellfish farms create waste, too

Letter by Jerry L. Libstaff, Vaughn on Aug. 30, 2011 at 11:46 am | 9 Comments »
August 30, 2011 1:01 pm
Employee Nicole Hooper inspects oysters at Taylor Shellfish Farms at Samish Bay in May 2010. (Philip A. Dwyer/Bellingham Herald)

Re: “Efforts to clean up Puget Sound get a new push” (TNT, 8-29).

I read this article with great interest. Correcting poor septic systems and farm runoff is necessary. The campaign to clean up dog waste is noble. Waste from 1.2 million dogs is a huge addition to the millions of wild animals that make Puget Sound home.

Gov. Chris Gregoire’s comment that she does not want to “flush” 4,000 acres of prime shellfish growing area down the drain is hopeful until you look at the photo accompanying the article. It reveals the massive concentration of shellfish in farms placed in the Sound.

It seems no one in the industry or in the government is willing to overlook the financial benefits to see the elephant in the room. Oysters and geoducks produce waste as well. In normal concentrations it could be compared to the natural populations of wild animals on an acre of land.

Two years ago the shellfish industry claimed there was no scientific evidence that 30,000, three pound geoducks per acre create a negative impact on the health of Puget Sound. Evidence of those effects from shellfish farms in France and in Chesapeake Bay were dismissed. Two years later, to my knowledge, there still have been no scientific studies done by the shellfish industry or the state to disprove the negative impact.

It’s crucial to keep the Puget Sound clean and healthy. However, the shellfish industry should look in its own “bed” as well as those of its neighbors.

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