DNR holds online forum about geoduck farming

The Washington Department of Natural Resources is hosting an interesting conversation this week about the potential of leasing state-owned tidelands for geoduck aquaculture.

A typical geoduck farm involves seeding tiny clams on the beach and protecting them from predators for about two years. Normally, a section of PVC pipe is inserted into the beach, one surrounding each clam. The DNR is providing a variety of background information in support of this week’s discussion.

Each day this week, a new question about geoduck aquaculture is being raised. The participants in this forum are the very people involved in the debate at the local and state levels, so one can learn a great deal about this debate by skimming through the comments.

On Monday,
the question was: Are there effects of geoduck aquaculture on public access and aesthetics, and if so, how can they be mitigated?

Most of the commenters were opposed to geoduck farming on state lands, saying that the tubes were ugly, intrustive and restricted public access in various ways. Geoduck farmers also weighed in, saying the problems are minimal when the farms are managed responsibly.

Tuesday’s question was: When seeking to balance the public benefits from state-owned aquatic lands, how much of a priority should DNR give to job creation and revenue generation when developing a geoduck aquaculture program on state tidelands?

This lively discussion involved a range of interests discussing the balance between jobs/economic benefits versus protection of the ecosystem. Some people made the point that money raised by leasing state land can be used for environmental restoration.

On Wednesday, the question turned to: What does science tell us about the impacts of geoduck aquaculture on Puget Sound?

I found this discussion more confusing, in part because references to scientific studies were mixed in with personal observations. Many of the comments were interesting, but the discussion was too scattered to really address the scientific questions, for which some studies are still under way.

Today’s forum is called “unknowns”: If DNR moved forward on a program leasing state-owned tidelands for geoduck aquaculture, are there significant unknowns that we need to be aware of, and if so, what are they?

As of the time of this posting, only a couple people had weighed in today, but you may want to comment on this item or on any of the topics in previous days. One can navigate through these various topics from the main page of DNR Forum.

I would like to know what you think of this forum by DNR and if we might want to encourage discussions like this on other important issues of the day.

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