shoreline habitat

Nationwide Permit for Commercial Shellfish Aquaculture in Washington ruled illegal

The Army Corps of Engineers 2017 issuance of a Nationwide Permit (NWP 48), at least as it relates to commercial shellfish aquaculture in Washington, was just ruled illegal by a federal court:

This decision has huge positive consequences for the Salish Sea environment, for it recognizes and responds to the cumulative impacts of the spreading transformation of the Northwest’s most pristine native shorelines into mass-production facilities for monocultures wrapped in PVC and plastic.

To see a discussion of this decision, go to The Olympic Peninsula Environmental News blogpost “Federal judge rules Army Corps aquaculture permit is unlawful in Washington State,” 12 Oct 2019,, accessed 15 Oct. 2019.

To see pictures of what industrial aquaculture does to our shoreline, and to see a description of the Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat’s legal actions to undo the destruction caused by the “blanket aquaculture permitting fast-track,” which had been allowed by NWP 48, please go to the website Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat at, accessed 15 Oct. 2019.


To read the court’s decision, go to, accessed 15 Oct. 2019.

Quotes from the court’s decision (note: Plaintiffs are The Coalition to Protect Puget Sound Habitat and the Center for Food Safety. Defendants are the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, et al. with the Intervenor-Defendants being Taylor Shellfish, Inc. and the Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association):


“Plaintiffs challenge the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ issuance of Nationwide Permit 48 (“NWP 48”) authorizing discharges, structures, and work in the waters of the United States related to commercial shellfish aquaculture activities. Plaintiffs argue that the Corps failed to comply with the Clean Water Act (“CWA”), the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”), and the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) when it reissued NWP 48 in 2017. They request that the decision to adopt NWP 48 in Washington be vacated under the Administrative Procedures Act (“APA”) and that the Corps be required to comply with the environmental statutes before issuing any new permits or verifications for commercial shellfish aquaculture in this State” (2)

“The Court finds that the Corps has failed to adequately consider the impacts of commercial shellfish aquaculture activities authorized by NWP 48, that its conclusory findings of minimal individual and cumulative impacts are not supported by substantial evidence in the record, and that its EA does not satisfy the requirements of NEPA and the governing regulations” (21).

“The Corps’ issuance of a nationwide permit, at least with respect to activities in the waters of the State of Washington, was arbitrary and capricious and not in accordance with NEPA or the CWA. Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 706(2), the Court holds unlawful and sets aside NWP 48 insofar as it authorizes activities in Washington” (22).