Jefferson County to hear testimony on fish pens

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT TOWNSEND — The Jefferson County commissioners have scheduled a public hearing to discuss the county’s latest Shoreline Management Plan, specifically the commissioners’ desire to control net pen aquaculture.

“We are calling on people to give us input so we can make the best decision,” said Commissioner David Sullivan. “We are looking for quality rather than quantity in that input and would like to hear people provide some specific scientific rationale to support their testimony.”

The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. July 11 in the Jefferson County Superior Court courtroom of the county courthouse, 1820 Jefferson St.

The county began discussing the revision of the Shoreline Management Plan in late 2009, submitting a draft plan in March 2010 that forbade the use of net pens, the process of farming fish while they are held in a contained area.

After submitting a draft with the net pen prohibition, the Department of Ecology responded that the county could not forbid net pens outright, but could do so under certain conditions.

The latest revision of the proposed shoreline plan singles out “experimental” techniques, defines as “growing methods or harvesting techniques that have not previously been used in the state of Washington and that differ significantly from current practice.”

The proposal states that experiments should be limited in scale and duration to determine their impact, and that any process “that uses or releases herbicides pesticides, antibiotics fertilizers, pharmaceuticals or non-indigenous species” be prohibited.

Ecology had some minor revisions to the Shoreline Management Plan with the only major topic the net pen ban, which has been discussed at several subsequent meetings.

Under the current proposal, net pen systems that met specifications would be allowed in isolated areas in Cape George, Glen Cove, Mats Mats Bay and Port Ludlow Bay.

The commissioners authorized Department of Community Development staff to submit a legal notice about the July 11 meeting and open a public comment period to extend to July 22.

All public comments will be considered before the board submits the next draft of the Shoreline Management Plan, the commissioners said.

Written comments should be sent to SMP Comments, P.O. Box 1220, Port Townsend WA 98368 or via email to


Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or

Last modified: June 20. 2011 11:22PM
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