Ecology seeks comments on proposals to control non-native eelgrass and burrowing shrimp

OLYMPIA – The Department of Ecology (Ecology) invites the public to comment on the scope of an environmental impact statement (EIS) for a proposal to control burrowing shrimp in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor.

Public comment is also sought on a draft permit for controlling non-native eelgrass in Willapa Bay only.

Proposal to control burrowing shrimp
The Willapa/Grays Harbor Oyster Growers Association submitted an application to Ecology for a water quality (NPDES) permit to allow the association to use the pesticide Imidacloprid to control burrowing shrimp in commercial shellfish operations in Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay.

Burrowing shrimp destabilize oyster beds and impact oyster production.

As a part of the process to consider issuing a new permit, Ecology will prepare an EIS. Ecology is seeking comments on the scope of the EIS for this proposal through Feb. 15, 2014. Scoping helps the agency determine what potential impacts to analyze in the EIS. See the scoping notice to submit your comments.

Later in the year, Ecology expects to issue the draft EIS as well as a draft permit. Ecology will hold another public comment period and public hearing before a final EIS is issued and a permit decision made.

Carbaryl was permitted by Ecology for the control of burrowing shrimp on commercial shellfish beds in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor through 2012. The growers association is seeking a permit for Imidacloprid as an alternative. For more information about carbaryl and the current permit for its use see: Individual Permit for the Control of Burrowing Shrimp using Carbaryl on Commercial Shellfish Beds in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor.

Proposal to control non-native (Zostera japonica) eelgrass
The shellfish growers association also has requested a new permit for the use of Imazamox to help manage the growth of non-native eelgrass called Zostera japonica on commercial clam beds in Willapa Bay.

According to the growers, these beds were historically sand/mud flats and just recently Zostera japonica has been colonizing these beds making it difficult to grow and harvest clams.

The EIS scoping period for the proposal to control non-native eelgrass closed Nov. 2, 2012, and Ecology has developed a draft EIS and a draft permit.

A water quality (NPDES) permit is required before the herbicide can be applied under the Washington State Water Pollution Control Act. The permit would regulate the use of Imazamox and marker dyes to manage Zostera japonica on commercial clam beds.

Ecology is seeking comments through Feb. 15, 2014, on the draft EIS and the draft permit to allow the use of Imazamox in Willapa Bay. See Ecology’s website for ways to submit comments.

Two separate but aligned permitting processes
The environmental review and permitting processes to control burrowing shrimp are separate from the environmental review and permitting processes to control non-native eelgrass in Willapa Bay. However, the public comment periods for each proposal are the same: Jan. 2 to Feb. 15, 2014.

Public meeting
People may submit comments on either proposal to the Department of Ecology (Ecology) through midnight Feb. 15.

Comments will also be accepted at a Saturday public workshop and public hearing in South Bend on Feb. 1, 2014. The meeting will start at 10 a.m. and continue through the afternoon. It will be held at Willapa Harbor Community Center, 916 W First Street, South Bend, WA 98586. The meeting format includes:

  • Open houses on both proposals: 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Workshops on both proposals, including presentation and question and answer sessions: 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
  • Public hearing on proposal to control non-native eelgrass and public comment opportunity on proposal to control burrowing shrimp: 1 p.m.