Governor Christine Gregoire announced a new Washington Shellfish Initiative to boost shellfish production and research.
Speaking at Taylor Shellfish Farms of Shelton, the governor also announced more than $4.5 million in grants, much of it from federal sources, to identify and correct pollution sources affecting shellfish.
The federal and state programs, coming after years of ecological, criminal and legal problems for the industry, are aimed at helping tribal and private shellfish growers and marketers. The industry has show a more cooperative attitude after years of acrimony over shellfish farming rights stemming from the original Boldt Decision confirming Indian fishery rights under 19th century treaties.
Representatives from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and the Corps of Engineers accompanied the Governor today and pledged federal cooperation in advancing anti-pollution and waste cleanup efforts.
Taylor Shellfish, a Seattle Business Magazine Family Business award winner, has more than 400 employees and 10,000 acres of tidelands in shellfish beds. In 2009, the company filed a lawsuit against the state’s Department of Natural Resources, after newly-elected DNR Commissioner Goldmark rescinded an earlier agreement. That lawsuit was settled, and now longtime antagonists Taylor, DNR and the Indian Tribes are “working together,” according to a DNR spokesperson, to protect tidelands and grow and market more shellfish.
DNR also announced that it had agreed with tribal and non-tribal shellfish growers to present a unified position to the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service to obtain federal approval of an “Aquatic Lands Habitat Conservation Plan” being prepared by DNR.