Washington Shellfish Initiative
Olympia oyster seed produced under the auspices of the Washington Shellfish Initiative and out planted in Sequim Bay with funding from NOAA. Partners included the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, and the Northwest Straits Commission.
Washington Shellfish Initiative Spawns New Olympia oyster Hatchery
Puget Sound Restoration Fund has been involved in the Washington Shellfish Initiative since its launch in December 2011. The Initiative was launched with the express purpose of enhancing shellfish resources in the coastal waters of Washington State. A notable outgrowth of the Initiative is the “Kenneth K. Chew Center of Shellfish Research and Restoration,” a new, state-of-the-art shellfish restoration hatchery dedicated to producing Olympia oysters and other living marine resources.
Officially opened in May 2014, the new hatchery reflects a convergence of interests between NOAA, Washington State and Puget Sound Restoration Fund. In practice, the new hatchery increases the scale of Olympia oyster restoration, creates a hub for associated research and genetics, and builds a base of operations for investigating and mitigating ocean acidification.
In Washington State, native shellfish restoration and hatchery propagation have taken on greater significance in recent years for three reasons. One, there is growing recognition that shellfish play a role in maintaining healthy ecosystems. Two, recovering native shellfish species in areas that have lost breeding populations requires some degree of hatchery propagation. And three, the number of species requiring hatchery propagation may increase as a result of ocean acidification.
With the new hatchery online, Puget Sound Restoration Fund can produce seed to kick-start Olympia oyster populations in areas that have lost remnant populations. Moving forward, the Washington Shellfish Initiative has created a platform that enables tribes, government, industry, research institutions, and nonprofits to pool resources in order to give shellfish and other calcifiers a helping hand as conditions change.