Farmers, residents at odds over geoducks

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
16 April 2007, at 1:00am

US - The battle over commercial geoduck farming has spread from the bays and inlets of South Puget Sound to the halls of the state Legislature, polarizing as it goes.

Last Thursday night, that debate returned home to the Key Peninsula, an area seen by some as "ground zero" for geoduck farming in Pierce County.

More than 100 residents crammed into the Key Peninsula Civic Center to listen to the experts - and to sound off - regarding the controversial practice.

Public comments underscored the rift between environmental and commercial interests, property rights and the apparently dueling science on the industry.

Few, however, seemed undecided.

"Aesthetically, I think these things are repulsive," Filucy Bay resident John Biggs said of the farms. "There's a beauty (on the shorelines), and that beauty is worth money."

Conversely, those interested in harvesting the lucrative bi-valve admitted to seeing something different in the rows of PVC tubes and nets that mark inter-tidal grow areas.

"For some waterfront residents, this is not an attractive view," said Bill Dewey, Taylor Shellfish Farms spokesman. "But, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. For growers, this is attractive."

Indeed. Indigenous to the Northwest, the geoduck clam is a hot export to east Asia and the center of a growing, multi-million-dollar industry in Washington.

Goeducks have been grown commercially in Puget Sound for the past decade. As of last year, roughly 150 acres have been planted.

Source: The Olympian