New leadership for local oyster growers group

There’s a new Executive Director of the Willapa-Grays Harbor Oyster Growers Association.

In a release from the local oyster farmers group, they say that David Beugli was named as their new Executive Director after serving the past six years as their Project Coordinator.

“David’s commitment to sound science and responsive community engagement will help the WGHOGA progress on our vision for a sustainable rural economy and healthy, biodiverse estuaries,” said Ken Wiegardt, WGHOGA Board President.

The locally based group represents nineteen shellfish farms and growers in the southwest Washington. According to the group, these farms account for nearly ninety-five percent of the sales in Willapa Bay and seventy-five percent of the sales in Grays Harbor. 

They state that our area is the largest oyster growing area in the U.S., producing nearly 25 percent of all oysters in the entire country

Over the past several years, the local shellfish farms have struggled with preventing and removing ghost shrimp in local waters, requesting and being denied the use of the pesticide imidacloprid on the  burrowing shrimp.

The Department of Ecology, in their permit denial, stated that mounting scientific evidence shows the insecticide imidacloprid poses “too great a risk” to the state’s environment and that the pesticide could harm invertebrates in the sediment, and affect fish and birds when their food sources are disrupted.

Governor Jay Inslee’s 2020 supplemental budget includes possible funding for $650,000 towards burrowing shrimp research and an integrated pest management plan.

“It’s been my life’s work to study and understand the biology and ecology of coastal ecosystems. With WGHOGA, I can work to expand this knowledge within and beyond the communities that care for coastal sustainability and who rely on our healthy estuaries for their way of life,” said Beugli.

About WGHOGA, according to the group:

The Willapa-Grays Harbor Oyster Growers Association was founded in the early 1950’s by a group of oyster farmers who saw the need to work together to uphold the legacy of environmental stewardship and water quality through sustainable shellfish farming.