A Must Read | “Disbelief over state plan to spray neurotoxin into oyster beds”


If you live in the West Coast, you should really read this article in today’s Seattle Times.

The title says it all.

How could a state that often prides itself in being a leader on environmental issues give the green light for what is obviously a high-risk, experimental move? What happened to the precautionary principle?

My favorite part of the story is the quote from the Department of Ecology:

“….we don’t do this lightly. We are very confident we have a series of safeguards in this permit that strongly protect the environment.”

Among them ….. is ongoing monitoring of pesticide levels in the water and sediments and a pledge to “shut the program down if something unexpected happens.”

Shut down the program if something unexpected happens. I just want to point out, that’s a terrible “safe guard”. Once something unexpected happens, it will probably be too late. There’s no way to undo adding a neurotoxin into the environment – especially an aquatic ecosystem.

I can’t help but shake my head at this crazy plan. Please share this story if you too are in disbelief.

Photo Credit: Mike Krzeszak, 2010. Title: Oyster Shells. Licensed under Creative Commons 2.0 license


  1. A Really Small Farm April 29, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    What is this burrowing shrimp? I read one of the permit application documents from the Willapa Grays Harbor Oyster Growers Association (WGHOGA) and it only mentions the “burrowing shrimp”. No genus or species is indicated. Is this a native shrimp or not? If it is not native then isn’t this just another case of saving the environment by using deadly poisons in this case with the neonicotinoid imidacloprid?

    The Xerxes Society (see http://www.xerces.org/2014/02/14/xerces-and-partners-comment-on-proposed-insecticide-use-in-willapa-bay-and-grays-harbor/) has said that this poison will affect other crustaceans like the Dungeness crab. Also, they name the two species of shrimp (the permit application reads as if there is just one), Neotrypaea californiensis and Upogebia pugettensis, and state both are native.

    1. humblebeefarms April 30, 2015 at 9:34 am

      Great observations. I’m really surprise how unscientific this approach is to deal with burrowing shrimp that may actually even be native. Talk about muddying the waters!

      1. A Really Small Farm April 30, 2015 at 9:45 am

        They are native and the odd thing about all of this is that most of the oysters are a species from Japan. The native oyster was over-harvested in the early 20th century. Other oyster species were brought in as replacements. The Japanese species worked best.

        it seems to me that these two burrowing shrimp have been part of the ecology for much longer than commercial oystering and that the oysters long ago adapted to them. I realize that is no consolation to commercial interests but neither are the words from the regulatory agencies regarding the neonicontinoids.