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


Bivalves for Clean Water

Teri King, Marine Water Quality Specialist

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.


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

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

NOAA National Sea Grant Awards Washington Sea Grant Over 1 Million in Aquaculture Grants

September 19, 2019


NOAA National Sea Grant office announced today a suite of federal funding awards in aquaculture, with three of them going to Washington Sea Grant. The four awards, totaling $1,980,133, will support aquaculture research projects and collaborative programs aimed at advancing sustainable aquaculture in the U.S. The awards begin this fall and extend over three years.

Washington Sea Grant will lead the three projects, with key staff coordinating the research and collaborating on outreach with a broad range of partners.

West Coast Aquaculture Collaborative: 

Partner(s): Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association; Western Regional Aquaculture Center; Willapa Bay Oyster Growers Association; Agricultural Research Service; Pacific Shellfish Institute

Federal Funding: $1,193,009

Washington Sea Grant, Oregon Sea Grant, and California Sea Grant propose to form a collaborative unit to engage science and education partners, industry and resource management agencies in tackling complex, region-scale barriers to sustainable aquaculture on the West Coast. The operational approach is to launch the collaborative by participating in a pilot project that addresses an urgent need in shellfish aquaculture and builds on the collective strengths of the programs and partners. Outcomes of the three-year effort will include an effective collaborative structure, enhanced program capacity in two states, the completed pilot project, and scoping information and lessons learned to apply to future projects, as well as advanced oyster and clam aquaculture practices developed to address interactions specifically around eelgrass and burrowing shrimp challenges. If the pilot project is successful, it will represent progress toward a novel, replicable approach to other complex issues.

Seaweed lines of change: Laying the groundwork to advance the practice of sustainable seaweed farming in the Pacific Northwest

Partner(s): Puget Sound Restoration Fund; Hood Canal Mariculture

Federal Funding: $99,997

Washington Sea Grant, working with Hood Canal Mariculture and Puget Sound Restoration Fund, is proposing to develop and deliver a tiered training program for potential seaweed farmers in Washington State. This program consolidates the team’s practical seaweed farming knowledge gained through a collaboration with NOAA and the University of Washington, to assess the ability of cultivated sugar kelp to mitigate local ocean acidification. The program includes an online introductory half-day workshop and a multi-day intensive training; guidance documents and recorded instruction to be archived on a free online resource library. Research and stakeholder information needs identified during trainings and follow-on technical assistance are to be shared with Sea Grant programs to help inform the development of seaweed aquaculture program priorities in Washington and beyond.

Catalyzing a Cross-Pacific Regional Collaborative Hub to Advance Indigenous Aquaculture Practices and Enhance Marine Food Production for Cultural-Ecological Benefits

Partner(s): Swinomish Indian Tribal Community; Alaska Sea Grant; Hawaii Sea Grant; Kua‘aina Ulu ‘Auamo (KUA); Puget Sound Restoration Fund; Northwest Indian College; Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska; Sitka Tribe of Alaska; Simon Fraser University; Western Washington University

Federal Funding: $587,127

Washington Sea Grant, Hawaii Sea Grant and Alaska Sea Grant aim to catalyze a cross-Pacific regional collaborative hub integrating research, outreach and education to advance sustainable Indigenous Aquaculture practices and enhance seafood production in the broader Pacific region. Indigenous Aquaculture management practices–including cultural modifications to nearshore environments such as Native Hawaiian fishponds and Northwest coastal indigenous clam gardens–have the potential to strengthen community access to traditional and customary foods, increase local seafood production, and deepen collaborative engagement between Sea Grant and local tribal communities for aquaculture advancement, climate adaptation, and coastal restoration. Integral to the success of the project is developing a community of practice that involves diverse partnerships and stakeholders, comprised of Sea Grant staff, Northwest tribes, Native Hawaiian communities, universities, minority-serving colleges, and local non-profit organizations. Activities include: convening two cross-regional summits to learn about local and regional examples of traditional Indigenous Aquaculture systems; conducting a comprehensive assessment of cross-Pacific Indigenous Aquaculture; advancing existing restoration sites and collecting ecological baseline data on the effects of intertidal modifications on the nearshore ecosystem; and strategic planning for future Sea Grant engagements and investments in Indigenous Aquaculture. Additionally, the collaborative will support inclusive workforce and leadership development through fellowships and internships for students from historically underrepresented or underserved colleges.

Nurturing the Successful Growth and Maturation of a Domestic Seaweed Aquaculture Industry: Identifying and Removing Barriers and Promoting Opportunities

Lead: Connecticut Sea Grant
Partners: Connecticut Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Aquaculture; Cape Cod Cooperative Extension; Washington Department of Agriculture; Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife; Washington Department of Natural Resources; Hood Canal Mariculture, Inc.; Puget Sound Restoration Fund; The Suquamish Tribe; The Sustainable Collective; Alaska Sea Grant; Maine Sea Grant; New Hampshire Sea Grant; National Sea Grant Law Center; New York Sea Grant; Oregon Sea Grant; ; Rhode Island Sea Grant; WHOI Sea Grant; Rhode Island Sea Grant Legal Program

Federal Funding: $1,085,131

Connecticut Sea Grant, in partnership with Washington Sea Grant and the other above state programs, is proposing to establish a National Sea Grant Seaweed Hub. The topic-based Hub would serve as a central clearinghouse for available science-based, non-proprietary, practical resources related to previous and current seaweed aquaculture research and extension efforts. The Seaweed Hub would enable Sea Grant programs as well as federal and state agencies to access current information to guide their own planning and outreach efforts. The establishment of the Seaweed Hub will also provide seaweed aquaculture stakeholders with the information they need to make better informed decisions.

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.

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.


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.

WSG’s Meg Chadsey on the Impacts of Ocean Acidification to Seafood Security in Puget Sound

August 8, 2019

Last month WSG’s Meg Chadsey spoke to the Van Alen Climate Council — a group of built environment designers — about ocean acidification’s impacts to local seafood 

Meg Chadsey, WSG Ocean Acidification Specialist. Photo by Marina Piedade, Van Alen

With bustling waterfronts, famous seafood markets, a robust culinary scene, and an estuary rich with marine life, the Puget Sound region seems to be the picture of seafood security. But look closer at the web of people, the sea, and the climate, and the fragility and vulnerability of this system comes to light.

In mid-July, WSG’s Meg Chadsey introduced a room full of interdisciplinary thinkers to the sobering realities of ocean acidification. Called the “Climate Council,” the group of built environment professionals organized by the Van Alen Institute had assembled for the gathering in Seattle to explore the seafood supply chain from ocean to table. Through site visits and cross-discipline conversation, the group came to understand the intimate relationship between food security and climate change in the Puget Sound.

Meg Chadsey speaks to the Van Alen Climate Council about the impacts of ocean acidification to Puget Sound marine life. Photo by Marina Piedade, Van Alen

Chadsey explained that the Puget Sound region’s booming shellfish industry raised alarm in the early 2000’s when larval oysters in shellfish hatcheries were failing to survive. As it turned out, what Chadsey called a “triple whammy” of ocean conditions made the region “Ground Zero” for ocean acidification at the time: an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, human pressures on a sensitive estuarine environment, and upwelling of naturally carbon dioxide-rich deep water to the surface. Together, these conditions sometimes made the waters of Puget Sound too corrosive for the vulnerable larval oysters; their delicate calcium carbonate shells were simply dissolving in the acidified seawater. 

And it wasn’t just the oysters that were losing out. Other marine life, such as pteropods (small but abundant marine snails that Chadsey equates to the “PowerBars of the sea”) are also struggling to maintain their delicate shells. Pteropods are an important source of food for many marine species (for example, they account for about 30 percent of the diet of juvenile pink salmon). if ocean acidification causes pteropod numbers to decline, the effects could ripple throughout the food web. 

However, Chadsey suggests there are reasons to be optimistic about our capacity to mitigate the problem. She is part of a team investigating the potential of kelp aquaculture to improve water quality, create critical marine habitat and grow food, all while taking carbon dioxide out of the acidified waters of the Puget Sound. Other newly-developed tools could also help mitigate OA’s impacts. For example, Parker MacCready of UW Oceanography demonstrated the LiveOcean model, a tool he likened to “a weather forecast for the ocean,” that is helping fishermen and growers understand and adapt to ocean conditions that can threaten the health of shellfish.

Taylor Shellfish hatchery in Quilcene, WA. Photo by Marina Piedade, Van Alen

Innovations like these may help those whose livelihoods depend on Puget Sound shellfish continue to be supported by these species, even in the face of changing ocean conditions. On Hood Canal, the Council saw and heard the stories of OA impacts to the region during visits to the Taylor Shellfish hatchery, Hama Hama Oyster Company, and the Long Live the Kings facility. 

Long Live the Kings finfish hatchery in Hoodsport, WA. Photo by Marina Piedade, Van Alen

After seeing the sophistication of the oyster hatcheries, one Council member was heartened. “I started out on Tuesday thinking that there were going to be no more oysters,” he reflected. “And then you go to this thing and it’s almost like it’s Frankenstein’s lab! You can imagine them actually cutting the cord with the natural world entirely and doing this in a giant chemistry set.” Cutting that cord felt unsettling to other members, who worried about “becom[ing] so reliant on these man-made systems that we forget about the [natural] habitat.” But as with the kelp investigation, it may be possible to work within the natural seascape to mitigate OA impacts, and thus keep the cord intact.  

The story of seafood in the Puget Sound region is one fraught with climate vulnerabilities, but it is also one of collaborative efforts by passionate and innovative people determined to see the industry thrive far into the future. It remains to be seen where designers such as those who are part of the Van Alen Climate Council can intervene to help ensure that outcome, but that the conversation now involves such a diversity of disciplines is surely a source of hope in itself.