Geoduck harvests are debatable, but lucrativeMay 28th, 2009 by cdunagan
Geoduck harvesting remains controversial. Some people are convinced that it creates long-lasting damage to the seabed and to the creatures that dwell on the bottom. Others are equally convinced that damage is minimal and does not last very long.
I have never determined for myself if one side or the other is absolutely right, or if it depends largely on bottom conditions at a specific site. As a reporter, I continue to listen to both sides and try to give them each fair treatment.
One thing is for sure, however: The money that goes into state coffers from the sale of geoducks is quite remarkable. In a story published in today’s Kitsap Sun, I quote state officials who say the market has remained strong, despite the downturn in the economy.
In a single area north of Blake Island in Kitsap County, the state will receive $1.4 million for geoducks harvested this year alone. Similar amounts can be expected from that area for the next few years.
I will entertain comments and links to documents from anyone who wants to discuss the damage issue. I must give some weight, however, to the National Marine Fisheries Service, which has approved a Geoduck Habitat Conservation Plan and incidental take permit under the Endangered Species Act. (See the NMFS Web site on geoducks.)
The reports, which are based largely on research by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, give the geoduck fishery a “low-effect” rating when it comes to threatened and endangered species.
“A low effect HCP is one that NOAA’s Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determine to have minor or negligible effects on federally listed, proposed, or candidate species and their habitats covered under the HCP,” according to the NMFS Web site.