High Hopes for Puget Sound Oyster Project

CCA Washington and Building Conservation Trust (BCT) are part of a collaborative program helping to restore oysters in Puget Sound in order to improve fisheries and water quality. With their ability to filter toxins and sediments from the water, oysters play a vital role in the Puget Sound ecosystem and also provide excellent habitat for juvenile salmonids and bait fish.
“Through the efforts of volunteers and with the assistance of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) staff, oyster seed was planted at Kopachuck and Penrose Point State Parks,” said Gary Loomis, founder of CCA in the Pacific Northwest. “Oyster populations have been greatly diminished and it has become clear that our help is needed to improve oyster and salmon habitat in the area.”
Olympia oysters were once one of the most abundant bivalves in Puget Sound, and formed the foundation for thousands of acres of productive, diverse habitat. Over-harvesting, sediment loads, and pollution drove the oyster to near extinction and today it occupies a fraction of its former range. Additionally, the water quality decline in Puget Sound has been well documented over the past several decades, and oysters are now seen as an integral part of the ecological solution. Seeded with $20,000 in funding and support from BCT, the restoration program gives CCA members the opportunity to work alongside staff from WDFW, Pierce County and others to plant Pacific oyster seed in optimal areas to increase recreational harvest opportunities and enhance salmon habitat.
“The oyster seed will be strategically planted in areas where they can be monitored to evaluate baseline conditions to help guide future programs,” said CCA Sea-Tac Chapter President Joe Slepski. “The program will also feature an educational element to help citizens understand the importance of oysters in Puget Sound.”
“Our members are doing great things on the ground and in their communities, and I’m prouder than I’ve ever been to be a part of CCA in the Pacific Northwest,” said Loomis. “We hope more folks will join us and help make a difference, too!”