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Daily News Blog

06
Jun

Protect a Treasured National Wildlife Refuge from Shellfish Farming

(Beyond Pesticides, June 6, 2022) In spite of the known harm to migratory and residential birds, salmon, forage fish, other wildlife and their primary feeding areas, and a recommendation by the National Marine Fisheries Service that “an alternative site be identified in a location that results in less potential impacts to wildlife that is more appropriate for aquaculture and meets the goals of the tribe,” permitting agencies approved permits and a lease for a 50-acre industrial oyster farm for private financial gain inside the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge. This decision, which is in violation of the Clean Water Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, must be reversed.

Agencies are well aware of the potential damage to the lands it is their mission to protect.

Tell the Washington State Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that the Dungeness National Wildlife lease must be rescinded.

 The Dungeness Bay Wildlife Refuge was created by Executive Order in 1915 by Woodrow Wilson, directing the area to be set aside as a “refuge, preserve and breeding ground for native birds and prohibits any disturbance of the birds within the reserve.” The Refuge provides habitat, a preserve and breeding grounds for more than 250 species of birds and 41 species of land animals.

 The front page of the Refuge website states: “Pets, bicycles, kite flying, Frisbees, ball-playing, camping, and fires are not permitted on the Refuge as they are a disturbance for the many migrating birds and other wildlife taking solitude on the Refuge.” With this level of concern, it is counterintuitive to allow destructive industrial aquaculture.

These detrimental effects to the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge are NOT minimal.

Among the negative impacts of this project are: 50% reduction in bird primary feeding grounds;  20,000 – 80,000 toxic plastic oyster bags that exclude the probing shorebird flocks from feeding deeply into the substrate, entrapment of fish and birds, add macro- and micro-plastic bits to the sediment throughout the refuge, and shift the benthic community composition; diminishment of the ecological benefits provided by eelgrass to threatened fish and birds, such as nourishment and cover from predators and, with warming waters, increased toxic algal blooms that will leave a graveyard of dead oysters. Additionally, commercial shellfish operations attract pathogens and non-native species that threaten the area ecosystem and the shellfish. Decision makers should not place financial benefits to the corporation above the long term and cumulative impacts to the refuge.

Tell the Washington State Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that the Dungeness National Wildlife lease must be rescinded.

Letter to Washington State Department of Natural Resources (Commissioner Hilary Franz)

I am writing to ask that your agency rescind the lease from the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe to reestablish oyster farming in the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge.  They have four other sites, one of which has space to expand.

In spite of the U.S. Corps of Engineers predicted harm to the Refuge birds, salmon, forage fish, and other wildlife, and a recommendation by the National Marine Fisheries Service that “an alternative site be identified in a location that results in less potential impacts to wildlife that is more appropriate for aquaculture and meets the goals of the tribe,” permitting agencies approved an industrial oyster farm inside the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge. This decision, which is in violation of the Clean Water Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, must be reversed.

The Dungeness Bay Wildlife Refuge was created by Executive Order in 1915 by Woodrow Wilson, directing the area to be set aside as a “refuge, preserve and breeding ground for native birds and prohibits any disturbance of the birds within the reserve.” The front page of the Refuge website states: “Pets, bicycles, kite flying, Frisbees, ball-playing, camping, and fires are not permitted on the Refuge as they are a disturbance for the many migrating birds and other wildlife taking solitude on the Refuge.” With this level of concern, it is counterintuitive to allow destructive industrial aquaculture.

Industrial shellfish aquaculture is known to reduce or eliminate eelgrass. Shifts in the sediment from the thousands of bottom bags containing the oysters will damage the eelgrass beds. This shellfish operation involves large-scale use of plastics that are hazardous to marine organisms and can trap and entangle wildlife. Commercial shellfish aquaculture, already a major industry in Washington State, has significant impacts on the nearshore marine environments, which provide essential habitat for many species, including invertebrates, fish (including herring and salmon), and birds (migratory and shorebirds).

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers predicts the negative impacts of this project are: 50% reduction in bird primary feeding grounds;  plastic oyster bags that exclude the probing shorebird flocks from feeding deeply into the substrate, entrap fish and birds, add macro- and micro-plastic bits to the sediment throughout the refuge, and shift the benthic community composition; diminishing of the ecological benefits provided by eelgrass to threatened fish and birds, such as nourishment and cover from predators; and increased algal blooms that will leave a graveyard of dead oysters. These detrimental effects to the Dungeness Bay National Refuge are NOT minimal. Decision makers should not place financial benefits to the corporation above the long term and cumulative impacts to the refuge.

Please revoke the lease and prevent damage to the wildlife refuge and the harm that would come to the wildlife that depend on it.

Thank you.

Letter to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Interim Regional Director Hugh Morrison):

I am writing to ask that your agency reinstate your opposition to establish oyster farming in Dungeness Bay.

In spite of demonstrated harm to birds, salmon, forage fish, and shellfish, and a recommendation by the National Marine Fisheries Service that “an alternative site be identified in a location that results in less potential impacts to wildlife that is more appropriate for aquaculture and meets the goals of the tribe,” permitting agencies approved a lease for an industrial oyster farm inside the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge. This decision, which is in violation of the Clean Water Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, must be reversed.

The Dungeness Bay Wildlife Refuge was created by Executive Order in 1915 by Woodrow Wilson, directing the area to be set aside as a “refuge, preserve and breeding ground for native birds and prohibits any disturbance of the birds within the reserve.” The front page of the Refuge website states: “Pets, bicycles, kite flying, Frisbees, ball-playing, camping, and fires are not permitted on the Refuge as they are a disturbance for the many migrating birds and other wildlife taking solitude on the Refuge.” With this level of concern, it is counterintuitive to allow destructive industrial aquaculture.

Among the negative impacts of this project, as predicted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are: 50% reduction in bird primary feeding grounds;  toxic plastic oyster bags that exclude the probing shorebird flocks from feeding deeply into the substrate, entrap fish and birds, add macro- and micro-plastic bits to the sediment throughout the refuge, and shift the benthic community composition; diminish the ecological benefits provided by eelgrass to threatened fish and birds, such as nourishment and cover from predators; and increased algal blooms that will leave a graveyard of dead oysters. These detrimental effects to the Dungeness Bay National Refuge are NOT minimal. Decision makers should not place financial benefits to the corporation above the long term and cumulative impacts to the refuge.

Your mission is to protect refuges. Please reinstate USFWS opposition to the lease and prevent damage to the wildlife refuge and the harm that would come to the wildlife that depend on it.

Thank you.

 

 

 

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2 Responses to “Protect a Treasured National Wildlife Refuge from Shellfish Farming”

  1. 1
    Lee Fuller Says:

    Please, I am begging you not to allow the oyster farm in Dungeness Bay. Nor any other endeavors that will harm this bay and its wildlife. Please.

  2. 2
    Terri DiMartino Says:

    Please deny the for profit oyster farm in Federal Wildlife Dungeness Refuge. This area is for sealife refurbishment not the location for a commercial oyster farm. I am against any commercial business being allowed in this refuge.

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