How will global warming affect aquaculture?
Who knows? With rising sea levels and more frequent and
stronger storms, it seems likely that rafts used for aquaculture
will likely break apart, spreading their product and raft debris
all over the area. Oyster bags and mussel raft flotation
materials also get loose resulting in beach litter and hazards to
navigation. There may be problems with how warmer
temperatures affect some species...explosion of some species or
the extinction of others. Someone should be studying this.
2. Aren't mussels
good for the water, filtering out stuff?
That depends on who you ask. Mussels
filter enormous quantities of seawater, as do clams, oysters and geoducks. What is not known is how many species share the
same sized diet and type of phytoplankton within a given body of
water. They should not be expected to filter out
contaminants - would you want to eat shell fish that was so
One cannot use the appearance of algae to answer the phytoplankton
dietary question because shellfish eat microscopic phytoplankton.
The larger the geoducks, mussels, etc. grow, the larger their
appetites become. At what point does the whole system
collapse upon itself because there isn't enough nutrient to
sustain them all? There is no such thing as a free lunch,
and yet the science community seems reluctant to ask and answer
the more important question. The only measure that is used
is the degree of fatness of the animals grown for market - if Mr.
A's mussels are 'big and fat' and Mr. B's oysters are not as fat
as they were the previous year and that trend continues until Mr.
B no longer has a crop, then that gives a clue. Additionally, no
one studies the impact on animals down the chain that are not
3. I used to be able to get to the water from the shore, but
now it is so heavily planted with nets, oyster bags, tubes and
such, that I wonder if it is safe to walk through these?
If the owner of the tidelands gives you
permission to use his/her beach for access, and the beach has such
items as mentioned, you run the risk of injury. Oyster bags
are held down with metal spikes or sharp metal clips, and if one
falls onto them, the risk of impalement can be substantial.
Tripping over nets and tubes can also occur. Shoreline that
is rented to aquaculture companies is likely a do not trespass
how do I get to the water from land?
Probably by boat, from a marina or boat launch.
If I am boating in the South Sound at high tide, and my boat
breaks down, how do I get from the water to shore safely if I
don't know where the aquaculture plantations occur?
Good question. Very carefully!! The
geoducks in tubes and the oyster bags are so closely packed in
some areas that there is little to no room to land a boat on the
thought only the Army Corps of Engineers could do dredging.
When the inter-tidal geoducks are harvested, aren't they being
Sure looks like it.
If it looks like a duck... and walks like a duck....Aquaculture
companies do a form of dredging called water jet harvesting to
remove the geoduck from the silt or sand. They also clear
out shell debris from under the rafts by a form of dredging.
7. After they finish
harvesting geoduck, will the shoreline be the same as it always
Good question. That may
depend on the type of sediment, whether it is rock or silt, and
what substrate it sits on. The science hasn't been done to
determine how soon the different types of sediment return to "normal".
Likely, some of the benthic community will be damaged or killed,
but no one knows exactly what the biological damage will be.
8. It looks like there are
geoduck farms all over the Puget Sound region now. Where do
all those geoducks go?
mostly Japan and China right now. In some restaurants,
patrons are charged the equivalent of $100 a plate for geoduck.
That is why it is called a Cash Crop. Most of the single
shell oysters and mussels are also air-freighted over there..
9. Aren't the inlets of
Washington State supposed to be for the public to use?
Yes. The water is. The Public Trust
Doctrine holds these waters for the public, allowing multi-use of
the water. This doesn't give the shellfish industry
exclusive use. The inter-tidal zone .... probably not.
Thirty percent of the inter-tidal zone is held by the state, the
rest is in private hands.
10. I live in Mason
County, and I heard there are tunicates in Gallagher Cove on the
Thurston County side of Totten Inlet. What are they, are
they bad and can they be eradicated
before they get over to my side of the bay and contaminate my
Sorry. The water is an
excellent medium for transport. The tunicates are
probably already over on your side of the bay. Tunicates are
primitive marine animals having sac-like bodies, often referred to
as sea squirts, because they do squirt when touched. When
they proliferate, they form a dense mat over something hard, like
pilings, boat bottoms, and shellfish, especially submerged
mussels. If they choose to live on shellfish, they seem to
smother the clustered shellfish and out-compete the shellfish for
particular tunicates are also non-natives.
11. How did tunicates get into
Totten Inlet? They are supposed to be found in ballast water
from ships, but we have no ships in Totten.
There are a few commercial vessels in Totten -
mostly aquaculture barges and other related types of vessels. Oyster barges
do have ballast water. Perhaps the tunicates floated in on
the tide. However, at this point, they are only found on
hard substrates on and near the mussel rafts in Gallagher Cove below
water level; they are also found on boats that have been in the water for a few months, usually attached to mussels.
Those mussels seem to have even displaced most of the
12. What exactly is displacement and
has this occurred on Totten shores?
Displacement occurs when one species becomes
dominant (i.e. planting excessive numbers, food competition for
same diet, or removing predators) and crowds out other
species that lived in the area prior to their arrival. Those of us who have lived on Totten Inlet for many
years can attest to the following: once there was the native Olympia
oyster, which was displaced by a Japanese variety of oyster
brought in for production; along with that came the oyster drill,
a parasite (it is a small marine mollusk adapted for boring holes
into oyster shells), which spread all over the oyster growing region throughout
the state because of depuration techniques.
Depuration in this sense
meant moving oysters from an area with water quality problems into
CLEAN Totten Inlet waters to purge for several weeks...then the
oysters are ready for market. Then mussel rafts
appeared in quiet coves, and the finfish that were there vanished.
Walking along the shore, we once had lots of barnacles and oyster
drills, but these seem to be disappearing also - their numbers are
amazingly diminished. Perhaps the
bag culture of oysters is responsible for this.
There are fewer sand
fewer otters, fewer seals, fewer seagulls, fewer ducks - but
there are a lot more geoducks, mussels (separate from the
rafts) and oysters grown in bags. All species play a role in a healthy
ecosystem; where diversity is stripped away, the entire food web suffers.
What is all that brown silt on the oyster bags, and why is my
gravely beach turning silty?
If you have lots of shellfish growing nearby,
like with massive plantings of geoducks or mussels, likely the
silt is the feces from the shellfish. Aquaculture literature
backs up that description perfectly.
14. What lessons has APHETI learned during its ten year fight?
well-organized community based group can be successful in working
with County and State government agencies to fight this type of
governments do not communicate with each other.
agencies often have conflicting mandates.
D. State and
county agencies lack resources for oversight of aquaculture
E. State and
county agencies often ignore citizen complaints against the
F. A double
standard exists from what counties will allow for aquaculture
industries and what what they allow for the average land-based citizen.
G. Notification to community members of aquaculture development is
limited or non-existent; communities must stay abreast of commercial development
of our bays and shores.
promoting aquaculture is adopted without science to guide
aquaculture industry has a strong lobby and has passed laws to
protect itself. Learn the laws. Better yet, designate a committee
to study the laws and be vigilant to new laws that keep cropping
Environmental Impact Study (EIS) decisions place the burden of
proof on the aquaculture industry’s scientists, who are paid by
those aquaculture companies. Non-biased scientists hired by the
government should be the ones conducting the studies, to ensure
not only fairness, rigor, and that the studies are done in a timely
using scientific arguments can be successful. Fighting because of
visual aesthetic issues is very difficult. Such has been the
experience of the folks at Penn Cove with regards to mussel
farming in that area. Aesthetics is mostly subjective, where
science should be objective.
L. It appears
that state agencies exclude the public when the bidding processes
come up for “selling” tidelands. The aquaculture industry learns
of the sales, but no one else. Had shoreline residents been
notified of impending sales, there would likely NOT be the same
type of intensive farming practices that are occurring today.
Shellfish aquaculture behaves just like point-source
pollution due to shells, waste, and escapement with subsequent
colonization. Unwanted mussels growing on someone's boat
becomes a nuisance and a biological pollutant. However, our
Court system disagrees (APHETI vs. Taylor Resources).
species such as Mytilus galloprovincialis mussels do hybridize
with native mussels and have the potential to wreak havoc in
certain ecosystems given the right conditions.
O. Carrying capacity
studies are not done prior to massive shellfish plantings.
P. Discrepancies can exist regarding tidal flushing rates between the
aquaculture industry and oceanographers.
Dredging and water jet harvesting is very disruptive to sensitive
species; the latter is the preferred method of harvesting for
geoducks. While the sediments may seem to settle out over a few
weeks, it may actually take a few months; the benthic community that was disturbed may never recover.
The kill rate after a harvest has not been studied.
Biologists worry that something in the food chain of Puget Sound
leaves young salmonids without enough food. If lower life
forms and their habitats are destroyed, so will go the way of
finfish. If there is any connections between the destruction
of marine inter-tidal habitat by the shellfish industry and
declining finfish, this should be a high priority for the science
community to study before finfish are eliminated beyond recovery.
intensive planting of bivalves may upset the balance for other
marine organisms; bivalves do filter their food from the water,
but at what cost to other organisms that share the same diet?
For example, massive overproduction of mussels has led to failure
of the whole crop in Spain several years ago. The abundant
phytoplankton was not enough to feed these aggressive filter
feeders, let alone the benthic community.
farms are using up every possible space to grow their products.
In some areas, there are geoduck beds in the deep inter-tidal,
oyster bags a little higher up on the inter-tidal shore, and then
clam beds with netting adjacent in slightly different habitat.
Once every bit of inter-tidal zone is used up, is massive raft
culture in the sub-tidal zone next? That is how things are done
in Hiroshima Bay, Japan, so why