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Aquaculture is defined in SCC 30.91A.255. Non-commercial aquaculture activities, as defined in SCC 30.91A.255, are allowed in all shoreline environments and are not required to obtain shoreline permits.

(1) The following general regulations apply to new commercial aquaculture activities and processing in shorelines:

(a) The location for new aquaculture activities shall be limited as follows:

(i) New shellfish aquaculture activities shall not be located in pocket estuaries as identified in the Washington State Coastal Atlas as maintained by the Washington State Department of Ecology, unless the proposal will not adversely impact the estuary’s ecological functions.

(ii) New shellfish aquaculture activities may be located in nearshore critical saltwater habitats provided that a critical area study is submitted per SCC 30.62A.140 documenting that ecological impacts can be avoided or minimized and mitigated to meet the standards in SCC 30.62A.310(3);

(iii) New commercial aquaculture should only be allowed where sediments, topography, land and water access support aquaculture operations without significant clearing or grading;

(iv) New finfish aquaculture shall not be located in nearshore critical saltwater habitats nor in accretion areas such as sandflats, mudflats, and pocket estuaries; and

(v) Aquaculture shall not be permitted in areas where it would result in a net loss of shoreline ecological function.

(b) Aquaculture activities shall be designed to avoid significant conflicts with navigation and other water-dependent uses. When a new aquaculture activity is proposed, mitigation sequencing for shoreline ecological impacts shall be required per SCC 30.62A.310(3)(a);

(c) No aquatic organism shall be introduced into Snohomish County without the prior written approval of the Director of the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife when required. If county approval is required for the initial introduction of an aquatic species, such approval shall not be required for repeated introductions. Introduction, for purposes of this section, shall mean the placing of any aquatic organism in any area within the waters of Snohomish County regardless of whether it is a native or resident organism within the county and regardless of whether it is being transferred from within or without the waters of Snohomish County;

(d) Permitted accessory structures typically associated with aquaculture shall be subject to the following:

(i) Permitted accessory structures typically associated with aquaculture may include: rafts, floats, nets, net pens, access docks, piers, pilings, boat launches and upland storage structures;

(ii) Jetties, groins, bulkheads, fill, shoreline stabilization measures, flow diversions, and breakwaters are not allowed in conjunction with aquaculture;

(iii) For accessory structures, the county may require a visual impact analysis. (See the Department of Ecology’s "Aquaculture Siting Study" 1986, or more recent studies, for general approach). Depending on the size and complexity of the proposal, such analysis may be prepared by the applicant/proponent, without professional assistance, provided that it includes an adequate assessment of impacts;

(iv) For aquaculture projects using over-water structures, storage of necessary tools and apparatus waterward of the ordinary high water mark shall be limited to containers of not more than three feet in height, as measured from the surface of the raft or dock; provided that, in locations where the visual impact of the proposed aquaculture structures will be minimal, the county may authorize storage containers of greater height. In such cases, the burden of proof shall be on the applicant/proponent;

(v) Materials which are not necessary for the immediate and regular operation of the facility shall not be stored waterward of the ordinary high water mark;

(vi) Over-water structures for aquaculture operations shall not extend beyond the mean low water mark a distance greater than the average length beyond the ordinary low water mark of all preexisting over-water structures within 300 feet in either direction along the same shoreline. Where no preexisting structures exist within this range, over-water structures may extend beyond the mean low water mark the minimum distance necessary to accommodate the aquaculture activity provided that navigation is not impeded;

(vii) Aquaculture structures and equipment shall be of sound construction and shall be so maintained. Abandoned or unsafe structures and/or equipment shall be removed or repaired promptly by the owner. The county may abate abandoned or unsafe structures or equipment, following notice to the owner, if the owner fails to respond in 30 days and the county may impose a lien on the related shoreline property or other assets in an amount equal to the cost of the abatement;

(viii) Construction materials that come in direct contact with the water shall not be treated or coated with toxic materials. Untreated wood, precast concrete, plastic or nontoxic alternatives shall be used unless the project proponent demonstrates and the county determines that there is no feasible alternative to toxic construction materials that will provide the structural characteristics necessary for the project;

(ix) Finish treatments, including but not limited to paint, stain, waterproofer, pest preventatives and preservatives used on over-water structures or on structures within 25 feet of the ordinary high water mark shall not result in adverse impacts to water quality;

(x) Floating, submerged and intertidal aquacultural structures and other similar structures should be located and designed to avoid significantly impacting navigation and other water-dependent uses. Approval of such structures may include the following conditions:

(A) Clustering or spacing of rafts to allow for small boat traffic within or through the facilities;

(B) Directional signage;

(C) Buoys marking the extent of the operation;

(D) Limits on the type, number, location and size of the facility and any accessory structures; and

(E) All floating and submerged aquaculture structures and facilities in navigable waters shall be marked in accordance with U.S. Coast Guard requirements;

(e) Aquacultural processing shall be governed by the regulations in SCC 30.67.550. Commercial sales of aquacultural products shall be governed by the regulations in SCC 30.67.525. No processing of any aquaculture product, except for the sorting or culling of the cultured organism and the washing or removal of surface materials or organisms after harvest, shall occur in or over the water unless specifically approved by permit and subject to the conditions in subsection (2)(g)(iii) of this section. All other processing and processing facilities shall be located above the ordinary high water mark;

(f) In order to demonstrate no net loss of shoreline ecological functions, when a local permit is required for aquaculture activities, the department may require monitoring and reporting for noise, odor, water quality, aquatic and benthic organism types and densities, current patterns and flows, flushing rates, prevailing storm wind conditions, impacts to wetlands and fish and wildlife habitats and other relevant environmental conditions as appropriate on a schedule specified by the approving authority that issues the shoreline permit relating to the aquacultural activity. Monitoring shall not be required for commercial aquaculture activity located in commercial shellfish beds except as may be necessary to ensure the protection of other critical saltwater habitats as defined in SCC 30.91C.362. Adverse impacts to other critical saltwater habitats shall be mitigated according to the mitigation sequence described in WAC 173-26-201(2)(e). The permit may be revoked by the approving authority for failure to monitor when required or if monitoring reveals unanticipated impacts that cannot be mitigated;

(g) Aquaculture activities proposed within shorelines of statewide significance shall be subject to, first, the policies contained in SMP section 1.2.2, Shorelines of Statewide Significance, and, second, the policies and regulations contained in SMP section;

(h) The applicant/proponent shall demonstrate that the degree of proposed substrate modification is the minimum necessary for feasible aquaculture operations at the site;

(i) Aquaculture proposals that involve substantial substrate modification or sedimentation through dredging, trenching, digging, mechanical clam harvesting, or other similar mechanisms, shall not be permitted in areas where the proposal would adversely impact existing kelp beds or other macroalgae, and eelgrass beds;

(j) Permits for aquaculture operations approved on an experimental basis may include conditions reasonably limiting their size and duration; provided that the county may issue a new permit to continue the operations as many times as is deemed necessary and appropriate;

(k) Where aquaculture activities are authorized to use public facilities, such as boat launches or docks, the county shall reserve the right to require the applicant/proponent to pay a portion of the cost of maintenance and any required improvements commensurate with the use of such facilities;

(l) Aquaculture operations shall comply with all applicable federal and state regulations governing waste control, including but not limited to applicable provisions of the Federal Clean Water Act, Section 401, and the Washington State Water Pollution Control Act (chapter 90.48 RCW). No garbage, wastes or debris shall be allowed to accumulate at the site of any aquaculture operation;

(m) Predator control shall not involve the intentional killing or harassment of birds or mammals;

(n) In addition to the permit requirements contained in chapter 30.44 SCC, conditional use permit application submittal requirements for new commercial aquaculture and processing activities may also include the following:

(i) A narrative description and timeline for all anticipated planting and harvesting activities;

(ii) A baseline ecological survey of the proposed site to allow consideration of the ecological effects;

(iii) Measures to achieve no net loss of ecological functions consistent with the mitigation sequence described in SCC 30.62A.310(3)(a);

(iv) Management practices that address impacts from mooring, parking, noise, lights, litter, and other activities associated with planting and harvesting operations;

(v) Monitoring and reporting plan to verify that aquaculture operations are in compliance with shoreline limits and conditions set forth in conditional use permits and to support cumulative impacts analysis;

(vi) Information demonstrating that the proposed aquaculture activities will not significantly conflict with navigation and other water-dependent uses;

(vii) Existing public opportunities for gathering wild stock aquatic resources on public lands shall be addressed in any application for aquaculture on public shorelines. Mitigation for loss of public access to public aquatic resources may be required;

(viii) Information demonstrating that the proposed activity will be compatible with surrounding existing and planned uses by addressing the following:

(A) Aquaculture activities shall comply with all applicable noise, air, and water quality standards. All projects shall be designed, operated and maintained to minimize odor and noise; and

(B) Aquaculture facilities shall not significantly impact the aesthetic qualities of the shoreline unless there is a compelling public safety reason requiring otherwise. Safety concerns for birds and wildlife may also be considered when evaluating impacts on the aesthetic qualities of the shoreline; and

(ix) Other pertinent information deemed necessary by the county.

(o) Where permit submittal requirements identified in subsection (1)(n) of this section have already been submitted in compliance with other federal, state or local permit requirements, the department will accept the documentation submitted to other permitting agencies provided the applicant clearly identifies which documents, or parts of documents, are intended to meet which specific county requirement;

(p) The rights of treaty tribes to aquatic resources within their usual and accustomed areas shall be addressed through direct coordination between the applicant/proponent and the affected tribe(s);

(q) Consistent with, and in addition to the requirements in chapter 30.70 SCC, the applicant shall provide public notice to:

(i) All property owners within the prescribed distance from the proposed project boundary;

(ii) Tribes with usual and accustomed fishing rights to the area; and

(iii) The applicable local marine resources committee(s).

(2) In addition to the general regulations contained in subsection (1) of this section, the following shoreline environment designation-specific regulations for new aquaculture activities in shorelines apply:

(a) Urban:

(i) Non-commercial aquaculture is permitted; and

(ii) Commercial aquaculture and processing are conditionally permitted.

(b) Urban Conservancy:

(i) Non-commercial aquaculture is permitted; and

(ii) Commercial aquaculture and processing are prohibited.

(c) Rural Conservancy:

(i) Non-commercial aquaculture is permitted; and

(ii) Commercial aquaculture and processing are conditionally permitted.

(d) Resource:

(i) Non-commercial aquaculture is permitted; and

(ii) Commercial aquaculture and processing are conditionally permitted.

(e) Municipal Watershed Utility. Commercial aquaculture is not permitted on Spada Lake. Non-commercial aquaculture along with any associated processing activities on Spada Lake are limited by the utility purveyor’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license.

(f) Natural:

(i) Non-commercial aquaculture is permitted; and

(ii) Commercial aquaculture and processing are prohibited.

(g) Aquatic:

(i) Non-commercial aquaculture is permitted;

(ii) Commercial aquaculture is conditionally permitted only when the adjacent upland environment is Urban, Rural Conservancy or Resource; and

(iii) No processing of any aquacultural product, except for the sorting or culling of the cultured organism and the washing or removal of surface materials or organisms, shall be permitted water-ward of the ordinary high water mark unless fully contained within a tending boat or barge.

(3) When new commercial aquaculture activities are allowed subject to conditional use permits per subsection (2) of this section, in addition to the criteria required in chapter 30.44 SCC, all of the following criteria shall apply to the conditional use permit:

(a) All subsequent cycles of planting and harvest shall not require a new conditional use permit;

(b) A single conditional use permit may be submitted for multiple sites within an inlet, bay or other defined feature, provided the sites are all under control of the same applicant and within the same shoreline permitting jurisdiction. Expansion in area or operational intensity at individual locations, or to new sites, that was not considered and approved in the original conditional use permit will require a new conditional use permit; and

(c) In order to avoid or limit impacts from aquaculture siting and operations and achieve no net loss of ecological functions, review of the conditional use permit will take the following into account:

(i) Commercial aquaculture workers oftentimes need to accomplish on-site work during low tides, which may occur at night or on weekends. Work must be allowed during low tides but may require limits and conditions to reduce impacts, such as noise and lighting, to adjacent existing uses;

(ii) Conditional use permits should be reviewed using the best scientific and technical information available;

(iii) Best management practices should be applied to accomplish the intent of the limits and conditions;

(iv) The practice of placing nursery tanks or holding pools or other impervious materials directly on the intertidal sediments;

(v) Use of motorized vehicles, such as trucks, tractors and forklifts below the ordinary high water mark;

(vi) Specific periods when limits on activities are necessary to protect priority habitats and associated species. The need for such measures should be identified in the baseline ecological survey conducted for the site;

(vii) Alterations to the natural condition of the site, including significant removal of vegetation or rocks and re-grading of the natural slope and sediments;

(viii) Installation of property corner markers that are visible at low tide during planting and harvesting;

(ix) Mitigation measures such as buffers between commercial aquaculture and other fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas as necessary to ensure no net loss of ecological functions;

(x) Use of predator exclusion devices with minimal adverse ecological effects and requiring that they be removed as soon as they are no longer needed for predator exclusion;

(xi) Use of the best available methods to minimize turbid runoff from the water jets used to harvest shellfish;

(xii) Number of barges or vessels that can be moored or beached at the site as well as duration limits;

(xiii) Public rights to navigation over the surface of the water;

(xiv) Good housekeeping practices at aquaculture sites, including worker training and regular removal of equipment, tools, extra materials, and all wastes; and

(xv) Where the site contains existing public access to publicly owned lands, consider recommendations from the Department of Natural Resources or other landowning agencies regarding protection of the existing public access. (Added by Amended Ord. 12-025, June 6, 2012, Eff date July 27, 2012; Amended by Ord. 13-098, Dec. 11, 2013, Eff date May 27, 2014).