Shellfish growers are still under a cloud of uncertainty

Some $33 million was budgeted by our federal and state governments to eliminate tribal claims to commercial shellfish beds that have been managed for many years by clam and oyster farmers.

The legal settlement sounded simple enough. All the commercial growers needed to do was show that they were recognized by the state with an approved “aquatic farm registration” from the Department of Fish and Wildlilfe plus a health certificate from the Department of Health.

Things have not gone as smoothly as the growers had hoped. One of the problems is that one or both of these certifications don’t always identify individual parcels of land. So now attorneys for the 17 tribes involved in the settlement are asking the growers for additional documentation.

The parties have agreed to postpone the final resolution of the matter until next June to work through the complex issues.

I don’t know how this saga will end, but I’ll keep tracking it closely. For a few more details, check out my story on the Kitsap Sun’s Web site. The same story is scheduled for publication tomorrow in the newspaper.

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