Olympia - Gov. Jay Inslee launched Phase II of the Washington Shellfish Initiative (WSI), a collaborative partnership with federal, tribal, industry and non-profit partners aimed at protecting and enhancing unique shellfish resources that are at the heart of creating shellfish farming jobs, cleaning Washington’s waters and continuing traditions of eating shellfish from our shores.
“Shellfish are an important part of our economy and our heritage here in Washington,” Inslee said. “The shores of Puget Sound are a nexus point between the health of our citizens, the importance of natural resources to our economy, and the health of our environment, all of which depend on the waters that feed us.”
Washington leads the nation in farmed shellfish production and is a longtime leader on shellfish policy. In 2011, following the National Shellfish Initiative, Washington became the first state in the nation to establish a shellfish initiative to strengthen the health of shellfish resources and bolster their role in the state’s economy.
WSI’s second phase renews the state’s commitment to abundant shellfish resources that support Puget Sound and coastal communities’ commercial, recreational and tribal shellfish harvest. Phase II aims to:
- Ensure clean water;
- Embrace strategies to address ocean acidification’s effects on shellfish;
- Advance shellfish research;
- Improve the permitting process to maintain and grow sustainable aquaculture;
- Restore native shellfish;
- Enhance recreational shellfish harvest; and
- Educate the next generation about the importance of shellfish;
The health of the state’s shellfish growing areas is one of the measures of Inslee’s Results Washington initiative and one of the Puget Sound Partnership’s ecosystem indicators.
“We’ve seen tremendous success when communities, companies, and area government comes together to find and fix water pollution problems,” Secretary of Health John Wiesman said. “Our goals are ambitious, but that’s what it takes to protect and improve water quality so we can maintain the healthy and abundant shellfish our state is so well-known for.”
“Everyone who has dug a clam at the beach or savored an oyster at dinner understands how essential shellfish are to the environment, culture, and economy of the Pacific Northwest,” said Will Stelle, Regional Administrator of NOAA Fisheries’ West Coast Region. “WSI has supported important new research and actions, from restoring pinto abalone in Puget Sound to cleaning up marine waters, and we’re determined to continue to build on that momentum.”
Stelle, Congressman Denny Heck, NRCS State Conservationist Roylene Rides-at-the-Door, and tribal and shellfish industry leaders joined the governor for the roll out.
The governor also signed a ceremonial proclamation for Washington Shellfish Week, June 4th-11th that celebrates the current and historic value of shellfish resources to the state.
“WSI and this launch recognize the role shellfish plays in our communities, and has played for over a century,” said Margaret Barrette, Executive Director of Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association. “The initiative re-affirms the state’s commitment to ensuring shellfish remains an integral part of our future. Shellfish growers are thankful for the governor’s support and the work of state agencies.”
WSI forges a powerful coalition between state and federal government, tribes, the shellfish aquaculture industry and community partners to ensure shellfish can be enjoyed by Washingtonians for generations to come.
More information about the Washington Shellfish initiative can be found at http://bit.ly/WAshellfishinitiative.