Sadly lost in the onslaught of local and national news (not to mention the onslaught of storms this winter) is an important meeting Harbor Commission tonight which seems to pit the interests of one incredibly powerful out-of-town employer against many scientists, fisherfolks and hunters.
Here is a quote from from Will Houston’s article in today’s Times Standard.
Several environmental advocates, bird hunters, fishermen and researchers state the project’s revised environmental impact report still does not address their concerns about the expansion’s impact on sensitive eelgrass beds in the bay and the wildlife that rely on them.
Coast Seafoods’ original proposal from 2015 was to expand 620 acres. The current proposal is to expand to 256 acres which, for perspective, is the equivalent of 193 football fields within the bay.
From Mr Houston’s article…
Coast Seafoods — which is owned by the Portland-based Pacific Seafood — is currently the largest mariculture business operating in Humboldt Bay with a 300-acre operation in the northern portion of the bay. The proposed expansion would add 256 acres of intertidal oyster culturing to Coast Seafood’s operations in two phases.
Greg Dale is an operations manager for Coast Seafoods and is also a Harbor Commissioner. Thankfully he will be recusing himself. As Mike Wilson’s seat has yet to be filled, all three commissioners which include Larry Doss, Patrick Higgins and Richard Marks will have to approve the expansion at tonight’s meeting.
From the article former CA Fish and Wildlife scientist Scott Frazer..
“They have failed to take into account the comments they have already been given and to accurately and appropriately address those comments. Many of us feel like we’re being basically ignored.”
From fox Greg Dale regarding our hen house…
“There has never been anybody doing more monitoring than what we’re doing now and what we’re proposing to do. Honestly, I think the folks that have advised us in this project and agencies that have worked on it have done quite a bit of work to reach some sort of solution to minimize any impacts, if there are impacts.”
For another perspective, here is a link to Dennis Halligan’s My Word from yesterday’s Times Standard. He agrees with Mr. Dale that the net benefit of this expansion outweighs the costs. I will say that this one excerpt makes me wonder if Mr. Halligan is being completely forthright.
For me, one of the ironies in this whole debate is that the Audubon Society has teamed up with the waterfowl hunters (I am a duck hunter) to stop this project. Both organizations are worried about the brant, which is a good thing. However, the waterfowlers are interested in maintaining or expanding eelgrass so they have more brant to shoot. Interesting dynamic/ strange bedfellows there.
Maybe there are some, maybe many, wildlife enthusiasts who would like to ban hunting, but it seems to me this group would be in the minority. Our bay is an incredibly productive and complex ecosystem as is the human society that has developed along its shores. This is about allowing a successful ecosystem to thrive alongside the demands of us humans. That includes our human needs to feed ourselves (fisheries and oysters) and our need to recreate (hunt and photograph).
BTW, thank you to the reporting by the Times Standard and Will Houston. Also, if you, like me, don’t know a brant from Grant, here is an upset brant taking a “defensive posture”. He (or she?) is looking at you Commissioners. Let’s just step away and not piss her/him off any further. We don’t want this to get ugly.