Tag Archives: shellfish growers

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.

Tideland boundary questions could be Pandora’s Box

When I first heard that Taylor Shellfish Farms had encroached on state-owned tidelands on Totten Inlet, I began to wonder if this was an isolated case or was happening all over Puget Sound.

After talking to a variety of people, I suspect that shellfish growers and shoreline property owners may be encroaching on state lands and each others’ property in many places. One observer said the problem may be less in some northern areas of Puget Sound, where stakes on the beach are easily seen as demarcation lines.

I started to explore this issue in a story in today’s Kitsap Sun. I assure you it won’t be the last.

We could be opening Pandora’s Box, in which property boundary encroachments are revealed by expensive surveys. That could lead to expensive legal battles over who gets to claim what. It’s a rather chilling prospect, but who knows how much potential revenue the state may be missing.

Meanwhile, the state is not subject to adverse possession laws, yet private property owners are.

Some might say we should leave this alone, but I do not subscribe to the idea that ignorance is bliss.