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Governor: Please help oyster growers

Published on July 18, 2017 3:22PM

It is good that Washington Gov. Jay Inslee acknowledges burrowing shrimp are a serious problem for Willapa Bay shellfish growers.

For one term in the 1990s, he was the congressman for the agricultural center around Yakima. He later served six terms in Congress representing the primarily urban area of northern King County, along with Snohomish and Kitsap. In any event, he has some history of working on behalf of agricultural interests.

Growing clams and oysters is a close cousin to plain-old farming. It requires carefully nurturing a living crop, caring for the land and water, fighting weeds and pests. It is, for the southwest coast, every bit as important as apples are for Chelan or wheat in the Palouse.

Controversy over controlling burrowing shrimp is a classic case of environmental hobbyism. It is a product of people who have never set foot on a Willapa tideland making highhanded moral judgments about the farming practices of local people whose families have worked here for generations. It is the equivalent of Seattleites telling the people who grow their wine grapes that they should no longer control bugs or thistles.

The Washington State Department of Ecology is running scared. They are afraid urban voters will protest or reject the political aspirations of Ecology leaders, who might otherwise prefer to take the sensible course and allow a conservative spraying campaign against the shrimp that are wrecking shellfish beds.

The governor should stand up for common sense, and help educate his agency and other state citizens about the realities of farming. We hope he will take time to visit the bay in person. We would appreciate him learning and leading when it comes to this locally crucial issue.


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