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Judge tosses federal permit for Washington shellfish industry, saying it doesn’t do enough to protect environment

Gaspar Mateo, a bay worker (left) and  Byron Brenner, a manager at Taylor Shellfish Farms in Shelton, WA, place sacks of harvested oysters into totes at a bay in Shelton  May 6, 2015.  After ten sacks are in each tote, they are partially covered with ice, then ten more sacks are placed on top.  Those too are covered with ice.  Then the totes are loaded onto a truck and taken to a refrigerated warehouse in Shelton.  Washington state  is starting a first-in-the-nation shellfish harvesting control plan to halt outbreaks of food poisoning. It’s overhauling the way oysters are harvested, using air and water temperatures instead of illnesses to determine when the shellfish are unsafe. Brenner and his crew cover  the oysters with ice as quickly as possible to comply with the rules that went into effect May 1.

A federal judge found regulators did not comply with the Clean Water Act in granting a general permit in 2017 that authorizes most of the state shellfish operations. Washington is the nation's top producer of farmed shellfish.

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