This letter is in response to the May 27 letter in defense of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s plans for a commercial oyster farm within the Dungeness Bay Wildlife Refuge.
In the letter the writer states the tribe “has centuries of history growing oysters there.”
Tribal ancestors certainly foraged and gathered oysters at this location but that is a far cry from the currently proposed large-scale, commercial endeavor.
The proposed farm would include up to 150,000, six-square-foot bags with 100 oysters each. (“Staff Report to Hearing Examiner for the Shoreline Substantial Development Permit,” March 29, page 2)
This would result in more than 20 acres of coverage with 15 million oysters in an area rich in water birds, feeder fish and other marine life.
The oyster farm would cause a significant reduction in available space and feeding opportunities for the occupants of the National Wildlife Refuge.
The writer also argues that the tribe’s previous use of Dungeness Bay for commercial oyster beds and their help in securing government grants to clean up the bay accord them the right to re-establish an oyster farm.
Since the oyster farm closure in 2005, times have changed.
There has been a booming expansion in shellfish farming. (“Shellfish Aquaculture in Washington State, Final Report to the State Legislature,” Dec. 2015).
We are beginning to see the results of intensive oyster farming and how this affects the marine environment.
Should we risk the potential damage to our Dungeness Wildlife Refuge to house a commercial oyster farm?
Especially since the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe already has oyster farms in Sequim and Quilcene bays.