The Squawking Over Sustainable Geoducks

Taylor Shellfish says they’ll never be able to appease their critics.

On October 3, a bunch of folks who care very much about the health of the world’s oceans got together at Pier 66 for the first annual Blue Festival. Also there were representatives of Taylor Shellfish, which has been cultivating shellfish in Puget Sound for 100 years. Since they claim to be all about sustainable seafood production, and sustainability was the focus of the Blue Festival, it makes sense that Taylor officials were a little miffed when the company was denied the right to set up a booth. Except that this has happened before. And Taylor, like all good industries, has a history of playing the victim card when threatened.

Anne Mosness of the Go Wild Campaign, a co-organizer of the Blue Festival, says Taylor was similarly peeved last year during a forum in Ballard. Mosness says Taylor tried to woo its way into the event with plates of free oysters. Then, when denied access, Taylor personnel leafleted outside, threatened the event’s advertisers, and called Mosness and another activist a “fucking bitch.”

“They portray themselves as good neighbors,” Mosness says of Taylor. “But I went and looked at a geoduck farm, and there’s nothing else living there. I just don’t need to have them at an event that I’m organizing when they are directly contradicting our goals of restoring the marine environment.”

Keith Stavrum, who manages oyster beds for the Moby Dick Hotel in Nahcotta on Willapa Bay, says Mosness is right to be suspicious of Taylor’s intentions. Stavrum contends that a pesticide spray from Taylor and a host of other large growers have forced Moby Dick to suspend oyster farming on the bay.

“Taylor represents themselves as all good,” says Stavrum. “I don’t make them out to be a monster, but the truth should be told: Willapa Bay oysters should not be eaten at this time. We have suspended our harvest. And nobody’s telling anybody. The issue that I have is that Taylor is a fraud.”

For their part, Taylor contends that they’ve been very responsive to claims of environmental harm made by Mosness and others. “It’s always good to have critics, because they look at your practices and help you scrutinize them,” says Taylor public-affairs manager Bill Dewey. “But we never seem to be able to do enough to satisfy them.”

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