Aquaculture

We also offer local activities on shellfish. Learn more in Ocean Learning.

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Bivalves for Clean Water

Marine Water Quality Specialist, 206-543-6600

The Bivalves for Clean Water program educates marine shoreline owners and recreational shellfish harvesters about coastal pollution, ecosystem health, water quality and resource management issues challenging Puget Sound and Hood Canal. This multifaceted approach lets participants choose activities that fit their individual learning styles and interests.

Activities offered include workshops, field trips, shellfish-enhancement activities, citizen monitoring, beach walks and assessments, site visits, publications and one-on-one technical assistance.

WSG recruits and trains volunteers to identify and eliminate pollution sources in their watersheds, enhance recreational shellfish populations and conduct safe recreational harvest trips.

COVID-19 Resources for Shellfish Industry

Teri King, Marine Water Quality Specialist

WSG is closely monitoring the outbreak of the novel coronavirus — which causes the disease known as COVID-19 — and is making every possible effort to address the changing needs of the local shellfish aquaculture community. Through community outreach and a webpage, WSG is helping Washington State shellfish industry members connect to resources provided by the Washington State Governor’s office during the COVID-19 outbreak.

See the COVID-19 Resources for Shellfish Industry web page for up to date information.

Indigenous Aquaculture Cross-Pacific Regional Collaborative Hub

Melissa Poe, Social Scientist

WSG is leading a three-year grant to advance sustainable Indigenous Aquaculture practices and enhance seafood production in the Pacific region. Working in coordination with Hawaii and Alaska Sea Grants, WSG launched a cross-Pacific regional collaborative effort integrating research, outreach and education funded, in part, through a grant from the National Sea Grant Aquaculture Initiative.

Over 125 guests recently attended the first collaborative summit meeting held on Oahu, including representatives from 13 Pacific Northwest tribes and many more from across the globe. Attendees learned about traditional Hawaiian aquaculture practices and technologies. It was a catalyzing event resulting in a number of new collaborations amongst participants.

Kelp Aquaculture

Meg Chadsey, Ocean Acidification Specialist

Interest in macroalgae aquaculture is growing. Kelp and other seaweeds can be grown for food, animal feed, organic fertilizer, biofuels and other sustainable products. In Washington State, kelp aquaculture grew out of ocean acidification (OA) research. Because macroalgae absorbs nutrients and carbon dioxide as it grows, co-cultivation of macroalgae alongside farmed marine species can help recycle waste, and may buffer vulnerable organisms from the corrosive effects of OA.

WSG works with partners to investigate the impact that kelp aquaculture can have on OA and the potential commercial markets for farmed kelp, including using kelp as food and as fertilizer

In 2019, WSG lead a 3-day training for potential kelp farmers, created a go-to website for providing basic information for getting started all in one place, and continues to field inquiries from around the state.

WSG staff can also help answer questions about kelp and seaweed aquaculture and the educational and funding resources that are currently available.

Shellfish Conferences

Teri King, Marine Water Quality Specialist

Each year, WSG participates in and organizes conferences and training workshops on aquaculture and related issues and shares research findings with decision makers, producers and resource managers.

WSG contributes to the Washington State Shellfish Initiative, the annual Shellfish Growers Conference, the Pacific Rim Shellfish Sanitation Conference, and one-time events such as symposia on aquaculture and the environment.

For current and upcoming events or webinars, check the Events Calendar.

Email Teri King at wsgcanal@uw.edu

State of the Oyster Study: Testing Shellfish for Health and Safety

Teri King, Marine Water Quality Specialist

Shellfish need clean water to thrive. Pollutants can destroy their beds, and bacteria taken up by shellfish can sicken people who eat them. WSG’s State of the Oyster Study is a citizen science monitoring program that trains waterfront property owners to test the safety of their shellfish before consumption. Four times a year, residents gather clams and oysters at low tide and bring them to WSG to be tested for Vibrio parahaemolyticus and bacterial indicators of fecal contamination. WSG then helps participants interpret the test results and, if necessary, works closely with them to identify and remedy sources of contamination.

The WSG Well Education and Testing program (WET)

WET is offered in tandem with the State of the Oyster Study. Testing your well water is the best way to identify possible contamination. The WSG WET provides homeowners with a local, inexpensive way to test well water.

Teri King starts a new chapter

December 6, 2023

After working at Washington Sea Grant (WSG) for more than 30 years, Teri King, aquaculture and marine water quality specialist, has moved on to her next chapter. 

King joined WSG in 1990. Over the next three decades, she built an innovative program of outreach and technical assistance around the issues of shellfish aquaculture and Puget Sound water quality, reaching thousands who shared her passion for healthy marine waters and resources. Her program has helped to develop aquaculture best practices, enhance shellfish resources, monitor marine waters, reduce pollution, and protect coastal environmental health, all while building a strong foundation of longstanding partnerships around the region.    

King’s many contributions to WSG, the University of Washington, and broader aquaculture communities during her tenure have been impactful. Among her accomplishments, she developed the “Septic Sense” program to help homeowners reduce pollution into Puget Sound; managed SoundToxins, a diverse partnership of aquaculture businesses, environmental learning centers, tribes and volunteers working together to minimize the impacts of harmful algal blooms; provided technical assistance to hundreds of aquaculture farms and businesses; created the State of the Oyster Study to train waterfront property owners to test the safety of their shellfish; developed training programs for proper seafood handling; organized the annual Conference for Shellfish Growers; and conducted groundbreaking research published in science publications. . 

The impact of King’s work is deeply felt in Washington and beyond. She organized more than 1,000 outreach events for children and adults, from beach walks and cleanups to workshops on low-impact gardening, home septic systems, and shellfish monitoring. In 2012, the state was able to open Lynch Cove to shellfish harvesting for the first time in 25 years, a demonstration of King’s work with residents through the State of the Oyster Study and other programs. In 2013, the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s SoundToxin team identified rising levels of Dinophysis, which causes diarrhetic shellfish poisoning. The team alerted NOAA and the Washington Department of Health, triggering enhanced shellfish tissue sampling and likely preventing illnesses. King’s timely assistance to a family-owned shellfish farm once prevented the loss of 300,000 oysters from summer mortality. These and other successes point to King’s special ability to not only act on scientific information, but also to make it understandable and accessible to others. 

Though King has left WSG, she remains active in Washington’s aquaculture scene. She is now working as the Washington and Oregon Regional Aquaculture Coordinator for NOAA’s West Coast Regional Office. “My new position will allow me to continue working with WSG and the aquaculture community, and also grow professionally,” King says. 

WSG is grateful for the legacy that Teri built in serving Washington’s coastal communities. WSG will be working over the coming months to fill the vacancy left by her departure and looks forward to continuing many of the programs she started. The SoundToxins program is now under the leadership of WSG marine water quality specialist Michelle Lepori-Bui. Stay tuned for more information about the Conference for Shellfish Growers scheduled for March 2024. 

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Washington Sea Grant, based at the University of Washington, helps people and marine life thrive through research, technical expertise and education supporting the responsible use and conservation of coastal ecosystems. The National Sea Grant College Program is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce.

www.wsg.uw.edu.

Join the conversation: @WASeaGrant and Facebook.com/WaSeaGrant.

 

The first Seaweed Knowledge Symposium covered the challenges and opportunities of a burgeoning field

December 5, 2023

Watch the video recordings of the December 2022 Seaweed Knowledge Symposium online

A variety of seaweed washed up on a beach.

The seaweed of Puget Sound. Photo credit: Simone Alin

Seaweed aquaculture in Washington is a bit like the “Cheshire cat”: though there are a handful of commercial farms and restoration projects, a few pending permits, and a whole lot of enthusiasm, it’s mostly not there…yet. Whether seaweed farming will truly take off in this state, and how, is an open question. But amidst this uncertainty lies opportunity.

The foundation being laid for seaweed farming and restoration efforts today may set precedents for years to come. Given the unknowns — and the stakes — maintaining communication and collaboration among everyone involved in the burgeoning seaweed space is imperative. “We’re trying to foster a culture of cooperation and adaptive management,” said Meg Chadsey, carbon specialist at Washington Sea Grant (WSG). “We need to be able to try new things, learn from them, and be open to changing course.” Chadsey had these ideas in mind when she organized Washington’s first ever Seaweed Knowledge Symposium in December 2022 in Lacey, Washington. (Video recordings of the event are available on WSG’s YouTube channel).

The Symposium addressed four key goals: developing a deeper understanding of the local seaweed community’s interests and concerns; equipping that community to make responsible decisions around seaweed farming; understanding the gaps between the current state of knowledge and aspirations and goals for seaweed farming; and inspiring participants to work together to address information gaps and policy questions. “One of the main goals of the Symposium was to increase communication and connection within the seaweed community,” said Nicole Naar, social science and education specialist at WSG, who helped plan the event.

Speakers at the Symposium represented a broad range of expertise and experience, from the uptake of contaminants by seaweed to restoring declining wild kelp forests to the limitations of growing seaweed to sequester carbon. The perspectives of local Indigenous community members were also sought out and emphasized. Tela Troge, a member of the Shinnecock Nation in New York, offered her perspective on farming seaweed to assert tribal sovereignty, particularly as urban development and greenhouse gas emissions threaten traditional practices. “I think of ways I can protect the water so my son can engage in fishing rights for years to come,” said Troge. “My answer was seaweed farming.”

Many Indigenous people in the Pacific Northwest similarly see farming seaweed as a way to reclaim aspects of their culture. “In the past, seaweeds were always part of our everyday life,” said Loni Grinnell-Greninger (“yúčciʔə”), Tribal Council Vice Chair of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe. “When treaties were signed and settlers were moving in and we were removed from our land, some of our relationships with kelp and seaweed broke. So now we’re getting reacquainted.” Grinnell-Greninger and others spoke to the importance of non-tribal seaweed growers understanding this history and the position of treaty tribes in Washington as co-managers of marine resources. “I would ask any prospective seaweed farmer to acknowledge that your farm may be on ancestral territory of a Tribe,” she said. “I would ask any farmer to think about that, and to farm with good intentions. I would also encourage that farmer to think about partnering with a local Tribe.”

Helping to heal the environment is often cited as a primary motivation for aspiring seaweed farmers. Speakers at the Symposium covered the potential of growing seaweed to provide habitat to salmon and other animals, as well as absorb the excess carbon dioxide that’s causing ocean acidification. As efforts to restore wild kelp beds ramp up in Washington, there’s increasing opportunity for interplay between seaweed farming and seaweed restoration. Lee-Ann Ennis, who cultivates kelp on the Sunshine Coast in British Columbia, began farming native seaweeds to provide fish habitat, and now sees forage fish spawning on her kelp. “There is a lot of overlap between kelp farming, research and restoration,” Ennis said.

For others, seaweed farming simply represents a relatively less-impactful method of producing food. “From a planetary perspective, we’re more than 8 billion people,” said Joth Davis, a scientist and founder of Blue Dot Sea Farms. “We need to address the food supply — and that’s going to include using the ocean in ever-increasing ways.”

“Puget Sound needs a lot of help,” said Meg Chadsey, who also coordinates the Washington Seaweed Collaborative. “We can’t afford to ignore potential solutions. In the years to come, I predict we’ll be trying a lot of things we’ve never done before.”

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Washington Sea Grant, based at the University of Washington, helps people and marine life thrive through research, technical expertise and education supporting the responsible use and conservation of coastal ecosystems. The National Sea Grant College Program is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce.
www.wsg.uw.edu.

Join the conversation: @WASeaGrant and Facebook.com/WaSeaGrant.

The National Sea Grant College Program announces federal funding opportunity to advance U.S. aquaculture

December 12, 2023

Subject to the availability of funding, Sea Grant anticipates $5,000,000 to $6,000,000 will be available for research projects and programs that will develop and refine methods, protocols, techniques, and/or strategies to enhance the production of one or more life stages of aquaculture species with the overall goal of improving the efficiency, output, and profitability of commercial coastal, marine, or Great Lakes region aquaculture businesses.

Total funding for this competition includes approximately $5,000,000-$6,000,000 to support 4-12 projects for up to three years:

  • Up to $250,000 in federal funds can be requested by individual entities (e.g. a single individual, group, or institution) for research projects addressing the program priorities.
  • Up to $1,200,000 in federal funds can be requested for projects proposing collaborative, multi-partner efforts addressing the program priorities.

Applications require the standard 50% non-federal match for Sea Grant projects.

Federal Funding Opportunity: NOAA-OAR-SG-2024-24677

Please carefully review the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for specific instructions on how to apply for the competition via grants.gov.

 

Proposal Deadlines:
Letters of Intent are due January 17, 2024
Full applications to this competition must be submitted to Grants.gov by 11:59 pm Eastern Time on April 3, 2024.

 

Please contact oar.hq.sg.aquaculture@noaa.gov with any questions regarding this NOFO and please specify the opportunity in the subject line.

 

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Washington Sea Grant, based at the University of Washington, helps people and marine life thrive through research, technical expertise and education supporting the responsible use and conservation of coastal ecosystems. The National Sea Grant College Program is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce.

www.wsg.uw.edu.

Join the conversation: @WASeaGrant and Facebook.com/WaSeaGrant.

 

Washington Coast Shellfish Study

Working with Southwest Washington shellfish growers, WSG is leading a three-year, multi-partner, applied research project to assist planning and collaboration amongst tideland managers, owners and regulators in the coastal communities of Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor, Washington. The study aims to sustain shellfish aquaculture in the two bays by establishing a collaborative ecosystem-based management framework to identify solutions to current challenges, such as ghost shrimp overpopulation, and to provide support for ongoing participation from tideland managers, owners and regulators.

To date, the WSG team leading this effort has successfully created for the first time a “working advisory group” comprised of stakeholders and completed a 2-day workshop to be followed by an online workshop this spring. Other outcomes include a literature review summarizing key ecological interactions and identifying knowledge gaps in coastal Washington’s shellfish aquaculture industry; a series of public workshops highlighting these knowledge gaps

Washington Sea Grant welcomes first Economic Recovery Corps fellow

February 20, 2024

Washington Sea Grant (WSG) is excited to welcome Jessika Tantisook as its first Economic Recovery Corps fellow. The inaugural cohort of the Economic Recovery Corps (ERC) will spend the next 2.5 years enhancing the economic development efforts of host organizations like WSG around the United States.

Jessika’s work, in particular, will cover several focus areas on the southwest Washington coast. Long reliant on ocean-based livelihoods like fishing, boating, and the industries they support, these communities face growing challenges, from changing weather patterns to an aging marine workforce. Amidst these complexities, the Coastal Opportunities for Resilience and Livelihoods (CORaL) project honors the desire of Washington’s rural coastal communities to maintain a strong marine-based economy. Initiatives under the CORaL project include the creation of a new business incubator and marine trade center; increased marine trade training efforts; marine economic visioning; and the development of tribal shellfish aquaculture. Jessika will be responsible for stakeholder engagement and facilitating communication across partners and regions, helping to create a comprehensive vision of a resilient and robust ocean economy across the Washington coast.

Jessika has lived and worked in economic development on Washington’s coast for over a decade. As a coastal community leader and local food systems aficionado, she has experience starting and operating an organic food processing business, building a regional food hub, and developing equity-focused programming to support small businesses. Most recently, she spent five years as the Executive Director of the nonprofit North Coast Food Web, leading the creation of its first strategic plan and helping to grow its food hub operations into a pillar of the Columbia-Pacific region’s local food economy.

“As a decade-long coastal community member, I’m looking forward to adding much needed capacity to key projects in our region,” Jessika notes. “I’m excited to meet and learn from the Washington Sea Grant team, and to share all the great things we’re doing locally with my national cohort of fellows.”

The ERC Fellowship program aims to build capacity in economically distressed areas across the U.S. while cultivating the next generation of economic development leaders. The program connects 65 host sites nationwide with diverse practitioners and leaders with the passion, skills, and vision to create new ways of doing economic development. The ERC Fellowship was launched in 2023 through a $30 million cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration. It is led by the International Economic Development Council and supported by 6 other national economic development organizations.

Learn more about the ERC here, and about Jessika’s project here.

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Washington Sea Grant, based at the University of Washington, helps people and marine life thrive through research, technical expertise and education supporting the responsible use and conservation of coastal ecosystems. The National Sea Grant College Program is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce.

www.wsg.uw.edu.

Join the conversation: @WASeaGrant and Facebook.com/WaSeaGrant.

Willapa Bay Oysters – A Documentary

Teri King, Marine Water Quality Specialist

This video documentary about Willapa Bay by Washington native Keith A. Cox captures the oystering livelihood and lifestyle that endure on Willapa Bay, southwest Washington, and define its spirit and tradition.

WSG supported the project and staff are working with the producer on hosting future film showings and an interactive display to accompany the film.