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Puget Sound Kelp Conservation and Recovery Plan

The Northwest Straits Initiative along with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries), Washington Department of Natural Resources (WDNR), and several marine conservation non-profits published the Puget Sound Kelp Conservation and Recovery Plan in May 2020.

The Kelp Plan 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.

Read the Plan

Read the Executive Summary

 Read the Kelp Knowledge Review - Appendix A

Read the Cultural Importance of Kelp for Pacific Northwest Tribes - Appendix B

Kelp forests in Puget Sound provide a foundation for diverse and productive nearshore ecosystems, by providing 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. Researchers have documented localized declines of kelp forests, with significant losses occurring in South and Central Puget Sound.

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.

 The Northwest Straits Initiative has been leading the development of this plan since 2017. Explore the resources, presentations and notes from the plan development process in Appendix C.

Vision Statement

There is broad support for the Puget Sound Kelp Conservation and Recovery Plan. Many partners have signed on to the following shared vision for thriving kelp forests in Puget Sound. 

Vibrant kelp forests are vital to the health of Puget Sound and Salish Sea. They 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. Mounting evidence points to significant local declines of kelp forests throughout Puget Sound. In response to these widespread concerns, the Puget Sound Kelp Conservation and Recovery Plan provides a research and management framework for a coordinated and collaborative approach to protecting and restoring kelp forests of Puget Sound. 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.

Kelp conservation and recovery is an ongoing effort, and we invite partners from all sectors to join in our vision. See the vision statement with the most recent list of signatories here. If your tribe, agency, organization, or association is interested in signing onto the vision statement, contact us.