Fish consumption fuels Washington debate

SEATTLE — A bitter fight over how much fish people eat — and thus how clean Washington waters should be — has pitted tribes, commercial fishermen and environmental groups against Boeing, business groups and municipalities.

The state Department of Ecology appears ready to boost the current fish consumption rate, an obscure number that has huge ramifications for the state because it drives water-quality standards. A higher number means fewer toxic pollutants would be allowed in waters.

“So much is at stake,” said Kelly Susewind with the Department of Ecology, adding: “People are worried about what we might do. Are we going to be protective enough? Are we going to drive business out of the state? That ups the ante.”

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