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National Shellfish Initiative Inspires Washington State Effort

“The Washington Shellfish Initiative is the first regional implementation of a national effort to increase the commercial production of shellfish and restore native shellfish habitats and populations.” 
- NOAA Administrator, Jane Lubchenco Ph.D

About Aquaculture

Seafood is one of the healthiest and most popular sources of protein worldwide and nearly half comes from seafood farms, also known as aquaculture. In the United States, we are a major consumer of aquaculture products – half of the 84 percent of seafood we import is from aquaculture. However, we are not a major producer, producing just 5 percent of our seafood through aquaculture. NOAA works to foster sustainable aquaculture that will create employment and business opportunities in coastal communities; provide safe, sustainable seafood; and complement the agency's strategy for sustaining healthy and productive marine populations, species and ecosystems. To learn more about U.S. aquaculture, visit our website.











In June 2011, NOAA launched a National Aquaculture Policy that included a National Shellfish Initiative to increase shellfish aquaculture for commercial and restoration purposes, stimulating coastal economies and improving ecosystem health. Guided by the national effort, Washington State launched a new Shellfish Initiative in December 2011 to expand shellfish aquaculture and increase the availability of locally-produced seafood, jobs in coastal communities, and improved habitat and water quality.

News and Announcements

December 9, 2011: Washington State Governor Announces New Shellfish Initiative to Spur Jobs, Restore Puget Sound
Washington State Governor Chris Gregoire today unveiled the Washington Shellfish Initiative, a new agreement among federal and state government, tribes, and the shellfish industry to restore and expand Washington’s shellfish resources to promote clean-water commerce and create family wage jobs.  Read more… 

June 8, 2011: DOC and NOAA Issue National Aquaculture Policies
The Department of Commerce and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) today released national marine aquaculture policies that will help the U.S. meet increasing demand for healthy seafood, create jobs in coastal communities, and protect vital ecosystems. Read more… | Press Release 

About the Initiative

In the Pacific Northwest, the shellfish industry adds an estimated $270 million a year into the region’s economy, bringing jobs to more than 3,200 people, primarily in coastal communities. For over 150 years, Washington State’s tidelands have served as productive farm beds for nutritious oysters, clams and mussels.

The Washington Shellfish Initiative brings together local governments, tribes and the shellfish industry to promote and expand aquaculture, increase opportunities for recreational shellfish harvesting, protect water quality, and restore native shellfish habitat and populations – including the native Olympia oyster and pinto abalone.

The initiative invests state and federal funding to address environmental factors that stand in the way of shellfish aquaculture and restoration efforts, including pollution, agriculture impacts and climate change. 

Fact Sheets:

Meet Bill Dewey, Shellfish Farmer

This month, as part of NOAA’s Voices from the Waterfront series, we feature Bill Dewey of Taylor Shellfish Farms in Shelton, Washington. A biologist by training, Bill owns and runs his own clam farm in addition to his job at Taylor Shellfish. Click on the video below to hear  about the history of shellfish aquaculture in the Pacific Northwest, the unique role aquaculture and the tidelands play in the local culture and economy, and the techniques used to farm oysters, clams, mussels, and geoducks. 

Bringing Back the Abalone

In September 2011, NOAA Fisheries provided the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife more than $560,000 for research toward the restoration of pinto abalone—a West Coast species of concern.  The program went on to use the funds to develop an aquaculture program – hatchery and rearing facility – with the goal of returning the pinto abalone to their native habitat. Click on the video below to see this story.