This Friday visit Washington state where the Puget Sound Restoration Fund is working with USDA and local tribes to restore the Salish Sea, the Nation’s third largest estuary. The non-profit organization set a goal in 2010 to restore 100 acres of native Olympia oyster habitat in the Salish Sea by 2020.
The Olympia Oyster is the Pacific Northwest’s only native oyster, with a historic range from British Columbia to Baja California. In the 1800s, Olympia oysters covered 10,000 to 20,000 acres of intertidal area in the Salish Sea. Unfortunately, due to overharvesting, pollution from early pulp mills, and habitat degradation, only 4% of the dense historic population remains. With limited habitat remaining, PSRF had to act fast.
“While not a threatened or endangered species in Washington, the natural bed habitat they formed is vastly absent,” said Brady Blake, shellfish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. “While that habitat did not occur on the scales similar to that of the Eastern oyster on our Atlantic and Gulf coasts, the localized habitat they provide in scattered Salish Sea embayments (a recess in a coastline forming a bay) was certainly important locally to our marine ecosystem.”