Last week was stressful on the topic of oysters. News of an approved state plan to spray neurotoxin into Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor oyster beds led to outcry by the public and two prominent Seattle chefs, Renee Erickson and Matt Dillon. The result: Late in the day Friday, Taylor Shellfish announced it had changed course and would not treat its oyster beds with the controversial pesticide after all.
"Our customers spoke loud and clear today, and that speaks volumes to us," Bill Dewey, spokesman for Taylor Shellfish, told The Seattle Times late Friday. "It is disappointing — this really was the industry's last hope."
Taylor had worked with the Washington Department of Ecology for years to gain approval for the use of the pesticide, imidacloprid. The plan was to spray the neurotoxin on oyster beds to fend off burrowing shrimp, which made tide flats less stable and led oysters to sink and suffocate.
Per The Seattle Times: "Because of Taylor's size — it is the biggest farmed-shellfish operation in the country with more than 650 employees — the family recognizes its decision could in effect be a decision for the rest of the industry. Without the financial support of Taylor Shellfish, the group may not have the resources to move forward with the spraying plan, Dewey said."
What kind of impact did the statements by the two chefs, Erickson and Dillon, have on this decision? Enormous, says The Times, who published a follow-up piece yesterday. "We've been out here pretty much alone on this, making the environmental arguments, for years," Laura Hendricks, one of the few citizens who protested the pesticide plan from the beginning, said. "The chefs exceeded that in a day."