Puget Sound Kelp Conservation and Recovery Plan
We envision revitalized Puget Sound kelp forests stretching from Olympia to Vancouver, B.C. providing economic, recreational, and ecological benefits to all living things that call these shores and waters home.
- Puget Sound Kelp Conservation and Recovery Plan Vision Statement
Puget Sound Kelp
Kelp forests provide critical refuge, feeding, and nursery grounds for forage fish, rockfish, and salmon, as well as fueling food webs that support healthy bird and marine mammal populations—including Southern Resident killer whales. Kelp plays a vital role in the symbolic and spiritual aspects of traditional Northwest Coast cultures and supports the local economy.
Kelp is declining in areas throughout Puget Sound, with substantial decreases or disappearance of floating kelp beds in south and central Puget Sound. Cumulative impacts from human and climatic stressors threaten kelp. Unfortunately, our understanding of Puget Sound kelp and its stressors is limited, hindering kelp conservation.
THE KELP PLAN
The Kelp Plan is a collaborative tool that provides a research and management framework for coordinated action to improve understanding of kelp forest population changes and declines, while also working to implement and strengthen recovery and protective measures.
The Kelp Plan provides an overview of kelp forests in Puget Sound, including distribution and trends, stressors, critical ecosystem roles, and cultural values. The plan also recommends strategies to reduce stressors, provides a blueprint to protect and restore kelp forests, and urges continued and strengthened collaboration between diverse groups.
There has been a lot of progress with the actions in the Kelp Plan, but we are still at the early stages of the plan, and there remains an urgent need to continue and expand engagement, capacity, funding, and coordination to conserve and recover Puget Sound kelp.
The Kelp Plan Status Update
This Puget Sound Kelp Conservation and Recovery Plan: Status Update summarizes advancements in the actions within the Kelp Plan between early 2020 and early 2023, and provides workshop-generated needs and next steps to continue our collective progress towards accomplishing the Kelp Plan goals and actions.
The Kelp Policy Recommendations document was developed by the Kelp Policy Advisory Group and funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts. It summarizes 11 recommendations to advance effectiveness of kelp policy in Washington. The recommendations are intended to outline the guidance, resources, and tools needed for individuals and entities responsible for upholding kelp protection and recovery measures and authorities in Washington, especially those at local jurisdictions.
The Northwest Straits Initiative along with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries), Washington Department of Natural Resources (WDNR), Marine Agronomics LLC, Puget Sound Restoration Fund lead the large collaborative multiyear development of the Puget Sound Kelp Conservation and Recovery Plan.
- Interested in kelp conservation but confused about the differences in ongoing efforts? A comparison guide for a few large, collaborative, kelp conservation efforts is now available. This guide compares key differences and relationships between the listed efforts to improve understanding and dispel confusion.
- SeaDoc Society has launched their annual grants program to support science that results in positive conservation outcomes for the Salish Sea. Letters of Inquiry are due March 15, 2024. Learn more and apply.
- WA DNR has launched their “A Bird’s-Eye View: Mapping Washington’s Kelp from the Air” StoryMap, which features aerial imagery (from a fixed-wing aircraft) of floating kelp across Washington.
- Kelp knowledge review – Kelp Plan Appendix A
- Visual overview of Puget Sound kelp – PSRF’s Kelp Expedition StoryMap
- Cultural importance of kelp to NW Tribes – Kelp Plan Appendix B
- A decade of disappearance: bull kelp in the San Juan Islands – Samish Indian Nation’s StoryMap
- Why kelp matters – Jeff Ward, Science for Everybody
- Join the transboundary Kelp Node working groups
- Volunteer – SCUBA kelp monitoring with Reef Check
- Volunteer – Kayak kelp monitoring with your local Marine Resources Committee
- Be responsible – WA recreational kelp harvesting guidelines and information
- Learn and Educate – NOAA’s Kelp Forest Ecosystems Resource Collection
- Other ideas – Puget Sound Restoration Fund's "How you Can Help" infographic
- Guide to WA kelp strategic initiatives and workgroups
- Who is doing what with kelp in Puget Sound – Puget Sound Kelp Project Inventory (2020-2022)
- MRC kelp survey results (map) – NWSI’s Sound IQ
- Trends in WA floating kelp (map) – WA DNR’s Floating Kelp Indicator
- Above/Below (30 page webstory) – The Mysterious World of Bull Kelp: Exploring the kelp forests of the North Pacific Coast
Kelp photo gallery
The photos on our webpage and in the photo gallery below showcase stunning images that have been graciously shared with us, and included here by permission of the photographers. If you wish to use any of these photos or seek more information, please feel free to contact Jeff Whitty. We appreciate the generosity of our contributors and their commitment to sharing their work. Thank you.
Kelp plan website photo credits: Appendix A: Brooke Weigel; Appendix B: Brooke Weigel; Appendix C: Florian Graner; Learn: Alisa Taylor; Get involved: Don Meehan; Additional Resources: Adam Obaza