RELATED ECOLOGY PROGRAMS
Aquaculture has been part of the Pacific Northwest landscape for thousands of years. It plays an important food producing role in our culture and is critically important to native peoples and to the economies of many coastal communities.
What is aquaculture?
Aquaculture is the culture or farming of fish, shellfish, or other aquatic plants and animals. It occurs in all types of water bodies – from lakes and streams to Puget Sound and the coast – and includes restoring, planting, growing, harvesting, transporting and selling fish, shellfish and aquatic plants.
Aquaculture can be both commercial and non-commercial. Examples include:
There is a dynamic and viable commercial industry in Washington, and methods and processes are constantly evolving. The policy, regulatory and scientific landscape for aquaculture also continues to evolve – especially for shellfish aquaculture.
Ecology’s role includes protecting and restoring Washington’s valuable aquatic resources for future generations. We work closely with our government and non-government partners to better understand the relationship between aquaculture and the natural environment as well as neighboring communities. Ecology uses science as a foundation for aquaculture policies and regulations. We are committed to wisely managing this water-dependent use to ensure food and healthy waters are available for future generations, and doing so in an environmentally responsible way.
Bivalves coming from Washington’s cool clean waters are prized by
residents and others around the world. Commercial shellfish
operations are regulated at the federal, state and local levels.
Net Pen Aquaculture
Ecology is one of several state and federal agencies with a
policy and regulatory role in net pen aquaculture. Two main types of
net pens exist in Washington – commercial net pens raising Atlantic
salmon for market, and enhancement net pens raising native salmon
for release into the wild.
The state legislature passed SSHB 2220 in 2007 relating to
shellfish aquaculture. The bill created an advisory committee,
commissioned a series of research projects by Sea Grant, directed
Ecology to develop Shoreline Master Program Guidelines for geoduck
siting and operations, and directed the Department of Fish and
Wildlife to expand information required for aquatic farm
Non-Native Eelgrass: Zostera japonica
To better understand the effects of this invasive aquatic plant
on aquaculture and the state’s role in managing it, five state
agencies hosted a meeting on June 18-19, 2013: The Science and
Management of Zostera japonica in Washington.
Shellfish Safety Hotline (Washington State Department of Health)
Aquaculture Debris Hotline (Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association)
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