coastal communities

Fisheries Market Analysis - Request for Proposals

Fisheries Market Analysis - Request for Proposals

The Nature Conservancy is seeking a contractor who will conduct a review and market analysis of the current commercial fisheries along Washington’s Pacific Coast to identify potential opportunities to increase sustainable fish markets. Proposals due Sept. 4, 2019

Quinault Indian Nation named Title Sponsor for Washington Coast Works Sustainable Business Plan Competition

June 21, 2016 (Seattle, Washington) — Washington Coast Works is pleased to announce the Quinault Indian Nation as the Title Sponsor for the 2016 Sustainable Small Business Competition. This year’s business training is underway and will conclude July 22-24 during the Entrepreneurship Summit at the Olympic Natural Resource Center in Forks, Washington. At the Summit, participants will develop their presentation pitch and polish their business plans for a chance to vie for up to $20,000 in startup financing. Winners will be announced in October. 

This year’s participating entrepreneurs include a cultural tourism business, a wood boat kit manufacturer, a bee keeper, a construction business, a chocolatier, a tiny homes builder, a food truck, a dog boarding business, a permaculture farm, a stump grinder, a nature-inspired fitness company, a sustainable vegetable and hog producer, and a manufacturer of art equipment. All are “triple-bottom-line” businesses from coastal communities in Grays Harbor, Jefferson and Clallam Counties and designed to generate profits with significant social and environmental benefits.

“The Quinault Indian Nation is a critical partner for us,” said Eric Delvin, Emerald Edge Project Manager at The Nature Conservancy. “Their commitment to conservation of their natural resources and to sustainable economic development is clearly demonstrated by their sponsorship of Washington Coast Works.” 

Other 2016 competition sponsors include Enterprise for Equity and Washington Department of Commerce. 

Washington Coast Works is an initiative of The Nature Conservancy in collaboration with Enterprise for Equity (with support from a USDA Rural Business Development Grant), the Center for Inclusive Entrepreneurship, and the Ta’ala Fund, a native community development financial institution that supports business development in western Washington coast tribal communities. 

The complete calendar of events leading up to the competition is available at Contact at Mike Skinner to learn more about the competition, to volunteer to mentor or judge, or to request information about more sponsorship opportunities.

Supporting Communities on the Big Quilcene

Written by Beth Geiger

The residents of Quilcene, Washington are used to living close to nature. Logging and shellfish production have long been the core of this small Olympic peninsula town’s economy.

But for some of those residents who live along the Big Quilcene River, flooding may seem a little too natural. At least once every year or two the river rises, swamping about 30 homes. “The flooding is getting more frequent,” says Tami Pokorny with Jefferson County Public Health. “The houses are moldy. People are tired of rescuing muddy kid’s toys from the yard.”

The Big Quilcene also floods sweetly-named Linger Longer Road, which crosses the river. Linger Longer Road is the only access to 70 homes as well as the town’s largest employer, Coast Seafoods Shellfish Hatchery. The hatchery is the world’s largest supplier of juvenile oysters. It operates 24 hours per day so when access is cut off, it’s high impact.

What’s more, the levees extend into the marshy tide flats in the Big Quilcene’s estuary. Removing them may alleviate flooding, but less predictability about where the river channel might go afterwards concerns shellfish producers, whose beds have been successfully cultivated and harvested with the dikes where they are. Meanwhile, habitat for chum salmon in the estuary is also of critical concern. Dikes cut off channels and water flow that link the bay and river and provide important habitat for juvenile salmon.

Community, business, nature: Is there one solution here for all?

An essential element of the lower Big Quilcene project is engaging community and other stakeholders. The Conservancy, in support of the project lead, Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group, and partner Jefferson County, is working closely with key stakeholders in the community to plan the project. Community input has been important in developing the project’s six goals (flood risk reduction, habitat restoration, compatibility with shellfish, educational opportunities, recreational access and economic vitality) and in developing three alternative project concepts.  “The thing that stands out about this project is that it’s presenting ideas to the communities and saying “what do you want to do?” says Jared Keefer, Director of Environmental Health and Water Quality for Jefferson County.

The lower Big Quilcene project gives the Conservancy the opportunity to bring skills and knowledge to the table in a strategic, rather than a managing role. The Conservancy provides key support and knowledge to local project sponsors to advance community-supported, multi-benefit projects around Puget Sound. “This is a newer direction for the Conservancy,” says Jenny Baker, restoration manager for the Conservancy. “By playing more of a strategic role, we can have a bigger impact over a larger area.” 


World Oceans Day Fellows

Marine Fellowships Open Doors for Careers in Conservation

Written by Paul Dye, Washington Director of Marine Conservation
Photographs by Kara Cardinal, Hershman Marine Policy Fellow

World Oceans Day is an excellent occasion to reflect on how marine conservation and resource management have evolved as career opportunities. Washington Sea Grant and The Nature Conservancy are partners in a program to bring new professionals into these fields through unique fellowships.

For more than 50 years, the State of Washington has been a national leader in public policies to conserve and manage ocean and coastal resources. For instance, the state’s Shoreline Management Act preceded passage of the federal Coastal Zone Management Act by a year, and Washington was the first to achieve a federally approved Coastal Zone Management Program (in 1976).

Washington Sea Grant has built on this legacy by establishing the Marc Hershman Marine Policy Fellowships for graduate students in marine science, law and policy. The fellowship is named after Marc Hershman, a leader in the study of ocean and coastal policy for 30 years, who served on the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy and was the Director of the School of Marine Affairs at the University of Washington.

The Nature Conservancy has been an active partner in the program since 2011. Hershman Fellows hosted or funded by the Conservancy have contributed to marine spatial planning, Shoreline Master Programs, habitat conservation, fisheries reform, and oil spill prevention.

At The Nature Conservancy, Hershman Fellows have become essential members of our marine conservation team. The Fellows refresh our ocean policy and science expertise, and they add to our capacity to tackle some of our state’s most pervasive challenges. The one-year term keeps us focused on clear objectives, and our obligation to provide a top drawer educational experience inspires us to open our minds to new learning opportunities. It’s really a win-win arrangement.”

In the past five years, Hershman Fellows sponsored or hosted by the Conservancy have:

  • helped the Washington Department of Ecology initiate marine spatial planning; 
  • gathered public input on marine conservation priorities for Washington’s Pacific Coast; 
  • developed a strategy for preventing marine oil spills by engaging US & Canadian agencies & companies; and 
  • sparked innovations in coastal zone management to deal with the impacts of climate change.

Each of the Fellows sponsored by or hosted by the Conservancy have gone on to launch their careers with the Conservancy or a partner institution.

More information on Hershman Fellowships.

Fishing Gear Gets a Valuable Update


New fishing pot targets lingcod, leaves other fish behind

Written by Jodie Toft, Senior Marine Ecologist
Photographs by (1) Tim Calver ; (2) Eva Funderburgh / Flickr Creative Commons

This post is about fishing. Really.

First, though, imagine you have a blueberry farm (this is Washington, after all). Now imagine that you can only harvest a few of the blueberries that are ripe for the picking.

Why? Because you only have a big, heavy rake for harvesting - it breaks the branches, strips off the unripe berries, squishes the ripe berries and knocks loose beehives hidden in the bushes. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get those blueberries some other way?

Off the west coast of the United States, our fishermen are faced with a similar challenge, metaphorically. Millions of pounds of fish that have been given the green light for harvest by scientists and managers are left in the water.

The issue is complex - there are fish to catch and fish to avoid; places and habitats on the seafloor that recover quickly from certain types of fishing and those that do not; large swaths of the ocean that are closed to fishing with certain types of gear; and coastal communities and economies that are increasingly compromised by the revenue that isn’t being generated from fishing.

But complexities aside, a glance in the fishermen’s gearshed offers up what The Nature Conservancy and fishermen see as one of the simple solutions. It’s what’s not in the gearshed that stands out. What’s not there is gear that can be used in rocky habitats to catch the fish we want without catching those we don’t want.

In a collaborative approach to marine conservation, the Conservancy began working with fishermen in Washington and Oregon in 2014 to fill this empty nook in the gearshed. We see the solution in the form of a new type of fishing pot used to catch a high-value fish – lingcod – that occurs in the same rocky habitats as yelloweye and canary rockfish, whose low quotas currently constrain the fishery.

While we apply for permits to test the fish pots in rocky areas currently off limits, we are testing the gear in nearby areas replete with another high-value species – sablefish. And so far sablefish love the new pots, preferring them well over twice as much as the original pots!

And those fish that we didn’t want to catch? Of the ~2,000 fish we caught, there were only 2 canary rockfish and no yelloweye rockfish. Stay tuned as we move closer to lingcod-laden waters and see how much the new pot can be part of the solution.

In the meantime, enjoy the blueberries!