Protecting Kelp in Puget Sound
The Northwest Straits Commission is launching a new citizen science initative to protect kelp, and monitor changes to local kelp beds and the creatures that associate with them. Kelp is hugely important in Puget Sound, where among an astounding array of 23 species we have the 'bull' kelp familiar to many boaters and beachcombers. This kelp has disappeared from many areas, and like eelgrass, is critical habitat for marine wildlife, warranting protection via Critical Area Ordinances, Shoreline Master Plan updates, and NOAA Fisheries provisions for endangered rockfish – all processes in which MRCs are engaged. Stay tuned for information on a new boat-based survey protocol being developed with kelp experts and MRC volunteers this summer.
Forage Fish as an indicator of Puget Sound recovery
Northwest Straits Commission Marine Program Manager Caroline Gibson joined scientists and conservation advocates in a briefing on herring, smelt, and other forage fish to the Washington state legislature's House Environment Committee this week. One key message -- protect nearshore habitats in which these fish spawn. As Martha Kongsgaard, chair of the Puget Sound Partnership's Leadership Council noted, this was an historic moment in Puget Sound recovery efforts, the first time that the issue of forage fish protection has garnered attention at the Capitol for over an hour. Watch the briefing here. View powerpoint presentations here.
Photo: Dr. Tessa Francis (left) and Caroline Gibson (right).
Marine Debris Cleanup in Skagit County
The first marine debris projects were completed in Skagit County during the first week of March. Paul Argities worked with a specialized Washington Conservation Corps all-Veterans crew to remove debris from a closed marsh lagoon adjacent to Cooks Cove on Guemes Island. The crew removed 41.5 pounds of debris, mostly various forms of small plastic fragments, from in and around the lagoon area. In addition to the cleanup on Guemes Island, the crew removed an additional 5,240 pounds of debris from Similk Beach near Anacortes.
Opportunity to help protect surf smelt
The WA Department of Fish and Wildlife is seeking public comments on proposed changes to regulations that could increase protection for smelt in Puget Sound. Click here to submit comments, deadline May 30th. For more information about surf smelt, check out the Sea Doc Society's recent fact sheet.
Northwest Straits Commission Meeting
The next Northwest Straits Commission meeting will be held on Friday, April 25 via conference call. For information about past meetings click here.