Langley shrimping site fight continues

Langley’s battle to restrict ghost shrimp harvesting near the city took another step recently, Mayor Fred McCarthy said Monday.

The city-formed ghost shrimp advocacy committee requested Peter Goldmark, Washington’s Commissioner of Public Lands, consider restricting harvesting around Langley. They heard back from Goldmark and were redirected to a division in Washington that handles the permits for commercial ghost shrimp harvesting.

People grew concerned after hearing that a lack of ghost shrimp in the area, a food source for whales that frequent Saratoga Passage, may cause whales to skip the tidelands off Langley. Ghost shrimp are also used as fishing bait.

It became a city concern because whale watching is poised to become a greater source of tourism and business in Langley. Whale watching company Mystic Sea Charters kept one of its vessels in Langley’s South Whidbey Harbor last year and has planned to launch more tours this spring and summer.

Councilwoman Margot Jerome brought up her concern that the city may impact someone’s livelihood if their request is successful.

McCarthy defended the city’s request, noting several other designated ghost shrimping areas around Whidbey Island. Also, McCarthy said, the city was not asking for a full ban, only consideration of a restriction during the spring months when whales are known to visit Saratoga Passage.

“The beds get pretty permanently disturbed,” McCarthy said. “The whales have been known to skip those places the next year.”

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