October may officially be Seafood Month, but at Washington Sea Grant (WSG), our ocean’s bounty is core to our program throughout the year. From Coast Salish tribal members exercising their treaty rights, to commercial fishermen performing one of the most dangerous jobs in the country, to recreational shellfish harvesters enjoying their leisure time out on the beach, we strive to keep seafood safe and sustainable for everyone in the state.
Doing this requires a strong network and the trust of our community members. It also requires an understanding of the long history of cultural and economic importance of seafood in the Pacific Northwest, as well as an understanding of the latest scientific research. WSG endeavors such as the Olympic Coast Ocean Acidification Project exemplify our unique position to unite all of these facets. Through partnering with tribal communities, this project is investigating the impacts of ocean acidification on the marine species that are the most important to those tribes. Together, the researchers aim to provide decision-makers with the information they need to anticipate, evaluate and manage the risks and impacts of ocean acidification (learn more about the project and watch a recently released film on it here).
This is just one of many projects that show our dedication to the necessary work to support local seafood-based cultures and industries. Among other examples, our Sea Safety and Marine Weather workshops give commercial fishermen technical skills and information that could one day save their lives. SoundToxins collects and disseminates crucial information that minimizes the economic losses and health risks related to eating seafood that has been infected by harmful algae.
And our programming in these areas is continuing to expand. In the past three months, we hired two new staff who will significantly contribute to this work. Brandii Holmdahl, our new fisheries specialist, will focus on meeting the needs of the fisheries-dependent communities on Washington’s southwest coast and the Lower Columbia River. Nicole Naar, our new aquaculture specialist, will be focusing on our coast shellfish project in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor and supporting the West Coast Aquaculture Collaborative.
All of which is to say, WSG’s commitment to seafood will not stop at the end of the month. In the meantime, however, we sure appreciate Seafood Month as an opportunity to reflect on seafood’s wonderful history in the state, the extraordinary people who bring it to our tables, and maybe even try out some new recipes. Bon appétit!
Russell Callender, WSG Director