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Anne Elk
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PostWed Jan 16, 2019 3:31 pm 
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From news reports of a year or so ago, I knew there was a kafuffle re Taylor Shellfish et al wanting to spray a neonicotinoid over their shellfish beds b/c burrowing shrimp were interfering with their ops.  What I didn't know was that they'd been spraying other stuff (like Carbaryl) as well as herbicides for decades.  eek.gif   

There's a new book out on this: Toxic Pearl , reviewed by Cliff Mass. The book appears to be self-published and info on the author appears non-existent.   A controversial topic, for sure.  Some of the justifications for these pesticides are that they're less persistent and less toxic than what we used to use.  And yet, the MSDS sheets for the neonic Imidacloprid cautions to not let it get into water, and that it's toxic to all marine invertebrates.  We can't seem to learn not to mess with the wider food chain, yet we hand wring about the orcas.  mad.gif

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Ski
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PostWed Jan 16, 2019 5:44 pm 
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Anne Elk wrote:
"... info on the author appears non-existent..."


Cliff Mass, in the above-cited article wrote:
The author, M. Perle, has set up a website with orders and additional information: http://www.toxicpearl.com/

John Marshall, commenting on the above-cited article wrote:
As with any article or book that speaks to an issue of science or industry, the first thing one should do is to understand the author's background and expertise along with any other works they've published. Basically to establish a basis for credibility.

That is not possible with the author of this book, M. Perle, at least not via Google search. I went and bought the Kindle version with the hope that I'd learn more, but there was nothing about the author in it. The Kindle book did did list a web page, so I went there in hope of learning more. Still absolutely nothing about the author. Whoever this M. Perle is, they appear to be an on-line ghost.

Perhaps Cliff can update us on the author's credentials and experience in this area... otherwise I don't plan on wasting my time reading the book.

In addition to some information about "M. Perle", it might be in order to determine what exactly is the truth regarding the use of herbicides on non-native invasive species, which seems to be a good part of the complaint.
Other than the use of chemical herbicides or fire (which probably isn't practicable when dealing with tidal marsh grasses), what other options are available? Or would it be better to allow the non-native invasive species to propagate?

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Anne Elk
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PostWed Jan 16, 2019 9:46 pm 
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There's no bio of the author on the book website either.  M. Perle may even be a nom-de-plume.  This is an important issue for the public to chew over, but it may take an investigative  journalist to sort out the truth.  Being a beekeeper, I'm familiar with how certain issues get hyped (colony collapse disorder) and blamed on one thing (the latest pesticide - neonics), when in actuality the issues are multi-factorial, and the truth often quite different than portrayed in the media.  The problem is more how we do things in the USA - "shoot first ask questions later".
Ski wrote:
... it might be in order to determine what exactly is the truth regarding the use of herbicides on non-native invasive species

Are you referring to the problem with invasive spartina? That was mentioned by one commenter in Cliff's review of the book.  Considering that the shrimp is a native species, is there something that's shifted in the environment that's caused their population to explode? Or is it only a problem because Taylor et al have expanded their ops into new areas where these shrimp are more common?

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treeswarper
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PostThu Jan 17, 2019 10:44 am 
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This issue was raised in 2015 because of an article written.  I seem to remember it turned into  spraying stopped, then spraying allowed, then stopped and so on.

I was not aware that the object was to kill native shrimp.  I thought it was some kind of invasive plant.  I was also thinking that the native Olympic oysters were being grown there.  So, guess I don't know much.

I think I'll go back to watching the snow come down.  We haven't had much of that this winter.

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IanB
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PostFri Apr 05, 2019 2:34 pm 
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Thank you Anne for the post about this book.  I finally had time to get to the bookstore and pick up a copy.  It is a deeply disturbing chronicle of the long-term, multi-faceted attack on Washington's intertidal habitat by the shellfish farming industry.

What is described is not a simple story, but one of multiple and overlapping harms, repeated over many years, and endorsed by the very State agencies that we would have assumed were acting to protect both the environment and the public's interests.

The headline, of course, is about the state-sanctioned spraying of neurotoxin pesticides (carbaryl and imidacloprid) onto tidelands in order to kill millions (annually) of native shrimp that soften sediments making oyster aquaculture less profitable.  The bylines include that these sprayings are killing other invertebrates as well, including juvenile crab; that the contaminated corpses are being consumed by other wildlife, with uninvestigated consequences; and that the filter-feeding oysters are themselves being contaminated, with no state oversight of toxin levels or supposed waiting times between spraying and harvesting.

But that's only the lead.  Glyphosphate is also being sprayed to eliminate eel grass beds in order to expand acreage.  At first this was to combat spartina which was viewed as a necessary harm to defeat an invasive species, but that's become a slippery slope to attack duckgrass, which though non-native seems to co-exist with the native eelgrass, which together are indispensable habitat for juvenile salmon and forage for waterfowl on the Pacific flyway.

But there are also side stories about the physical assault on the tidelands to make them more profitable for monoculture farming - equipment grading of natural drainage features into flat expanses, and broadcasting barge loads of gravel onto the mudflats to make them more stable for machines and infrastructure.

Keeping in mind, all along, that the "pests" here (shrimp and eelgrass) are native species and the farmed oysters are not; that the impacts reach "desirable" species like crab, salmon, sturgeon, waterfowl, eventually even eagles and orcas; that this is occurring primarily on State lands that belong to all of us; and that it is being blessed by a combination of State universities and State agencies that are seemingly utterly beholden to the power of the aquaculture industry.

And there's still more from Puget Sound about many similar practices employed, with additional extra twists about the "pests" that get in the way of profit - Moon snails systematically thrown into the brush, entire sand dollar colonies picked at low tide and dumped to die on the upper beach, starfish piled together and coated with lime;  birds trapped in exclusion netting that blanket swaths of tidelands; unmeasurable quantities of characteristic plastic infrastructure debris that litter all of the beaches of the Sound and beyond.

If all of this seems rather disjointed, it's because I'm trying to summarize in a few paragraphs what the author tried to do justice to in 300 pages.  And yes, M. Perle is a pen name.  A friend of mine is an ex-WDFW biologist contacted by the author during the writing process.  (And concurred with the book's premise whole-heartedly.)  He said that people who have been fighting the industry have told him of being threatened and intimidated.  That M. Perle has chosen to conceal his/her identity does not disqualify him/her from telling this narrative - he/she is not a scientist making otherwise unfounded claims.  Most of the core facts in the book are apparently part of the public record - it just can't get much traction against massive industry greenwash.

Bottom line, it is absolutely worth taking the time to read.  I will be purchasing a second copy to support the author, and passing both along to friends.  If this issue were better known and understood it simply would not be tolerated by the public.

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"Forget gaining a little knowledge about a lot and strive to learn a lot about a little."    - Harvey Manning
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Anne Elk
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PostFri Apr 05, 2019 2:55 pm 
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Ian, thanks for this "Cliff Notes" review.  up.gif
I figured it was likely a whistle-blower self-protection kind of thing with the author.  She/he would not only be under threat of physical harm, but black-balled in their profession, too.  I might have to do some work on this, sending the info to my short list of writers who still do something resembling investigative journalism. Maybe a note or two to our senators also and Jay  "Gov. Green" Inslee.

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Schroder
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PostFri Apr 05, 2019 4:19 pm 
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The push is still on to do this

Feb 13, 2019 - Proposed law would allow pesticide on oyster beds

Feb 6, 2019 - Environmental Groups Try to Block Pesticide Use for Oysters
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Anne Elk
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PostFri Apr 05, 2019 4:40 pm 
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I'm not up on all the basic facts - Ian, maybe the explanation is in the book you bought - it's not clear why this problem has occurred.  Is there a shrimp population explosion, and if so, why?  Shortage of predators, change in the habitat?  Or is it that the oystermen want to expand oyster growing into an area where they wouldn't naturally occur - b/c of the ground conditions,  which are conducive to shrimp.

In other words, is this about the oyster industry getting greedy - trying to increase their production volumes into areas they've never farmed before, or are previously used grounds being destroyed by the shrimp explosion?

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IanB
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PostFri Apr 05, 2019 6:37 pm 
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In (way) short, the unaltered Willipa-Gray's Harbor ecosystem had lots of silty mudflats inhabited by shrimp and other invertebrates, areas stabilized by eelgrass beds, and scattered areas of firmer substrate that supported native Olympia oysters.  These and all of the other native critters got along happily eating one another.

Settlers arrived and began harvesting and shipping the delicate, slow-growing Olympias until they were running out.  So they brought in oysters form the Atlantic seaboard, along with non-native plants as packing material for the transcontinental trip.  Those didn't do so well - but some of the plants did.  Then the Pacific oysters were brought across from Asia, with more plants.  Those did do well.  (Pacifics are far more robust, and can survive in shallower water with extended exposure to summer heat and winter cold during low tides.)

The objective became to grow as many of these big oysters as possible as cheaply as possible, and doing that means monoculture beds on substrate as firm and uniform as possible.  Growers interviewed in the book describe making a modest income off of small beds on appropriate substrate, or using a technique of cultivating on stakes above the mud, but these methods are of no interest to the big operations.

So, yeah, the problem is really just about greed.  All of the convenient sites were used first, and then the industry rapidly expanded into shrimp territory.  (Each time a bed is harvested it is an open invitation for the shrimp to recolonize.)  And at the same time, they always want to expand into new areas, and if that means removing the vegetation they are actually creating yet more potential shrimp habitat.

The language used in the Chinook Observer article that Shroeder linked to is typical of the pro-industry spin that the book attempts to address.  How can a native species just trying to do it's thing in it's native habitat be qualified as an "infestation" by an oyster grower?  Doublespeak.

Or Rep. Brian Blake saying, "...pesticides can also help oyster beds reclaim diversity by getting rid of the shrimp."  How can poisoning a native species near the base of the food chain in order to grow monocultures of sterile triploid oysters reclaim diversity?  Really?  But this is where you have to go to support an industry dependent on spraying neurotoxins on public tidelands.

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"Forget gaining a little knowledge about a lot and strive to learn a lot about a little."    - Harvey Manning
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Anne Elk
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PostFri Apr 05, 2019 7:48 pm 
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Thanks again for this background info, Ian.  Not surprising in the bigger picture of how business works these days. Very discouraging.   banghead.gif

The owners must know that American chefs don't want this stuff, and the informed consumers in the USA don't, either.  So it's not a stretch to assume they're going for the export market. That's what globalism does to the food market, eh?  How frustrating.  Time to pick up the (electronic) pen and start complaining.  rant.gif  If only the orcas ate shrimp ...

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PostSat Apr 06, 2019 8:33 am 
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rant.gif  If only the orcas ate shrimp ... In a sense they do.......

https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-d&q=chinook+salmon+smolt+and+eel+grass
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PostSat Apr 06, 2019 9:21 am 
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They're a staple for gray whales.  Here's a clip of them feeding on shrimp in front of my house:
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