Progress to date 7 million native oysters spread at 80 sites since 1999 1 acre of tidelands in Liberty Bay enhanced with shell in 2005 and 2006 Pilot enhancement in Henderson Inlet 5 acres of enhancements planned in 2007
Partners Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife Tribes (Suquamish, Skokomish, Squaxin, Lummi, Jamestown S’Klallam, Samish, Swinomish Commercial Growers (Taylor, Seattle Shellfish, Oly Oyster Co., Little Skookum) NOAA Community-based Restoration Program Public and Private tideland owners The Nature Conservancy EPA Marine Resources Committees U.S. Navy National Fish & Wildlife Foundation Local Governments (King, Skagit, Jefferson, Kitsap, Clallam) Washington Department of Natural Resources Reporters (newspapers, magazines, TV, radio)
Where it All Began: 1998 – Olympia Oyster Stock Rebuilding Plan Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife
1. Habitat Enhancement Emerging as Key Strategy Enhance substrate with shell near existing populations where substrate is too soft to support settlement This enables remnant population to recolonize historic areas AND Maintains genetic integrity of local population
2006 phase 2 Goals Continue oyster recruitment monitoring Experimental 1m 2 habitat enhancement plots Compare post-settlement survival by location and elevation Expand restoration in 2007 based on lessons learned Schedule for data collection Survival assessment in November 2006 Recruitment monitoring June through September 2006 Continue oyster and benthic community assessment in experimental plots in 2007
2. Seeding in Select Locations In the absence of genetic information, seeding is only pursued in areas where there is clearly no larval production and no local population to trigger a comeback – and then only if there is a population relatively nearby.
Three methods for producing seed or Transplanting adult oysters
Geographic basins within which we can transfer seed are becoming more restrictive
3. Monitoring Ecological Services – An Increasing Priority
4. Searching for Remnant Populations Essential to regional-scale habitat enhancement
5. Forging the Oyster Salmon Connection Oyster restoration in the lower intertidal is the missing link in salmon recovery efforts Quantitative monitoring data on ecological benefits of oyster restoration is essential to securing money
6. Working more closely with Tribes Research historic tribal harvesting sites to target restoration activities Develop notification and partnership programs with tribes for near-shore activities
7. Determining genetic relationship of each population Geographic area within which restoration can occur is tightening in the absence of genetic information Until remnant populations are located, restoration is at a standstill in San Juan Islands and the North Sound.
Ongoing Challenges Permitting Diseases Exotic species Seed production Logistics of larger- scale enhancement Coordination with other species restoration efforts
Restoration Imperative We need a system that is productive, full of life and capable of sustaining us. - Looks vs. Substance Oysters are an essential part of that system.
Why oysters and restoration matter Improve the ecosystem (filtration, habitat, food) Give people an incentive to protect clean water and habitat Make the resource REAL – people need to experience the productivity of Puget Sound to value it.