Over the last six years, dozens of individuals have worked on updating the Shoreline Master Program, as required by the State Department of Ecology. I was a member of the group of citizens who volunteered hundreds of hours of my time to help craft it.
The document was approved by the County Planners and also approved by the Planning Committee and the unanimous approval of the County Commissioners.
There was one issue that was a sticking point, in that the County chose to ban Net Pen Aquaculture in county waters. To be clear, there are no net pens currently in Jefferson County, and the last ones were removed decades ago, because they were failures.
The Department of Ecology allowed the banning of net pens in Whatcom County’s SMP.
Now, the DOE is saying that we cannot ban net pens in Jefferson County.
There is good scientific evidence that net pens negatively impact native salmon, by becoming a ‘vector’ for infections and infestations of parasites, such as sea lice. If you want to know more, simply listen to this audio podcast I recorded last month when Dr. Lawrence Dill came to Port Angeles. http://soundcloud.com/mountainstone/dr-lawrence-dill-netpens. The link to his slides and video of him presenting is listed to the left of this column.
Our banning of net pens can be looked on as temporary, as future updates to the SMP, can reverse this if science is shown to be able to properly manage the threat. Also, there is new technology that could see net pens put near the shore, or “upland” and not be directly in the water. We all look forward to that technology being proven workable.
The State of Washington, and our Federal Government, is spending hundreds of millions of dollars over decades to protect and restore the native salmon to our waters. It seems totally out of step that the Department of Ecology, that is chartered with defending our environment, should essentially tell our local officials, after all this work, that if we do not approve the SMP with net pens allowed, that they will withdraw our work and rewrite the SMP themselves as they see fit.
This seems to be the kind of behavior we would expect if officials had some kind of stake in the outcome. It is not indicative of the organization or the man who is chartered with protecting our environment. I am sure that’s not the case, but this is an election year. And appearances are everything.
That said, I am calling for the removal by the Governor of Mr.Ted Sturdevant, the Ecology Director. His actions have gone against the years of work of informed citizen volunteers, against the work done by elected county officials of Jefferson County and against the ecology of the Sound that he is chartered with protecting.
I hope you join me and phone or email your support of this letter to the Governor’s office, and our elected officials, Representative Van De Wege, Representative Tharinger and Senator Hargrove. Their contacts are found to the left side of this page, under Governmental Sites, near the bottom of the list. Linda Barnfather is currently handling both Tharinger and Van De Wege administrative assistant duties, so one email or call to her will handle both of them
Filed under: Puget Sound | Tagged: department of ecology, Jefferson County, SMP | 2 Comments »