Department of Ecology News Release - April 3, 2014

14-054

Shellfish industry permitted to treat non-native eelgrass in Willapa Bay
Herbicide Imazamox may be used to control non-native eelgrass on commercial clam beds in Willapa Bay only

OLYMPIA – After a public process, the shellfish industry can begin using the herbicide Imazamox this spring to control the non-native eelgrass Zostera japonica on commercial clam beds in Willapa Bay only.

The non-native eelgrass is a Class C noxious weed. Class C noxious weeds are either already widespread in Washington or are of special interest to the agricultural industry. The Class C status does not require control but does allow a county to select the noxious weed for control if it is beneficial to that county (for example: to protect crops).

Key requirements in the new Department of Ecology-issued permit include:

The Willapa/Grays Harbor Oyster Growers Association requested the permit to help manage the growth of the non-native eelgrass.

It is spreading over Willapa Bay shellfish beds, making it difficult for the shellfish industry to grow and harvest clams. These shellfish beds were historically sand/mud flats.

A water quality (NPDES) permit is required before the herbicide can be applied. The permit will regulate the use of the herbicide as well as marker dyes that will be used.

Ecology held a public workshop and public hearing about this permit in South Bend on Feb. 1, 2014. Its public comment period ran from Jan. 2 through Feb. 15, 2014. Permit details and Ecology’s responses to public comments are available on the agency website.

In a related effort, Ecology is reviewing public comments as it develops an Environmental Impact Statement for a potential permit that would allow the use of the aquatic pesticide imidacloprid to control burrowing shrimp on shellfish beds in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor.

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Media Contact:

Sandy Howard, communications, 360-407-6408, @ecologyWA