Event Title

Assessing Habitat Impact of Recreational Kelp Harvesting, a Tom Sawyer Approach to a Culturally Sensitive Citizen Science/Outreach Project, Smith & Minor Islands Aquatic Reserve, Whidbey Island, WA

Presentation Abstract

Smith and Minor (S&M) Islands lie a few miles off the western shore of Whidbey Island near Oak Harbor and are managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service as a National Wildlife Refuge. The Islands lie within the 36,300 acres of tidelands and seafloor habitat of the S&M Islands Aquatic Reserve, managed by the State DNR. The largest kelp forest in the Salish Sea, much of the kelp lies west of S&M Islands accessible only by boat and is not harvested. To the east of S&M Islands, within the tidelands along the west coast of Whidbey Island are significant kelp beds which are harvested. There are over 300 species of algae. The kelp beds, habitat to spawning fish and invertebrates, are one of the most important aquatic habitats protected in the S&M Islands Aquatic Reserve.

Kelp harvesting occurs in 1-2 feet of water, in the spring months by recreational harvesters at minus tides. Harvesters must have a shellfish/seaweed license. Regulations for harvesting are specified on their license and posted on the WDFW webpage. Information obtain pre-study from casual observers (beach goers) and local residents indicated a possible increase in annual harvesters and that the kelp was not harvested sustainably which would contribute to the degradation of the overall habitat. In addition, we were told that most the harvesters were Korean and spoke little or no English. Preliminary consensus from scientific community indicated a lack of previous research.

Whidbey Watershed Stewards developed and facilitated this effort last summer with support from State DNR and technical support of Island County MRC. Two research strands were developed: 1. Biologic --gathering data on kelp abundance, productivity and removal; 2. Social -- the collecting of harvester data through surveys and by providing public information/outreach to harvesters on importance of a sustainable habitat.

Session Title

Kelp and Eelgrass

Conference Track

Habitat

Conference Name

Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference (2016 : Vancouver, B.C.)

Document Type

Event

Location

2016SSEC

Type of Presentation

Oral

Contributing Repository

Digital content made available by University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Comments

www.whidbeywatersheds.org

Rights

This resource is displayed for educational purposes only and may be subject to U.S. and international copyright laws. For more information about rights or obtaining copies of this resource, please contact University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225-9103, USA (360-650-7534; heritage.resources@wwu.edu) and refer to the collection name and identifier. Any materials cited must be attributed to the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference Records, University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Type

Text

Language

English

Format

application/pdf

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Assessing Habitat Impact of Recreational Kelp Harvesting, a Tom Sawyer Approach to a Culturally Sensitive Citizen Science/Outreach Project, Smith & Minor Islands Aquatic Reserve, Whidbey Island, WA

2016SSEC

Smith and Minor (S&M) Islands lie a few miles off the western shore of Whidbey Island near Oak Harbor and are managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service as a National Wildlife Refuge. The Islands lie within the 36,300 acres of tidelands and seafloor habitat of the S&M Islands Aquatic Reserve, managed by the State DNR. The largest kelp forest in the Salish Sea, much of the kelp lies west of S&M Islands accessible only by boat and is not harvested. To the east of S&M Islands, within the tidelands along the west coast of Whidbey Island are significant kelp beds which are harvested. There are over 300 species of algae. The kelp beds, habitat to spawning fish and invertebrates, are one of the most important aquatic habitats protected in the S&M Islands Aquatic Reserve.

Kelp harvesting occurs in 1-2 feet of water, in the spring months by recreational harvesters at minus tides. Harvesters must have a shellfish/seaweed license. Regulations for harvesting are specified on their license and posted on the WDFW webpage. Information obtain pre-study from casual observers (beach goers) and local residents indicated a possible increase in annual harvesters and that the kelp was not harvested sustainably which would contribute to the degradation of the overall habitat. In addition, we were told that most the harvesters were Korean and spoke little or no English. Preliminary consensus from scientific community indicated a lack of previous research.

Whidbey Watershed Stewards developed and facilitated this effort last summer with support from State DNR and technical support of Island County MRC. Two research strands were developed: 1. Biologic --gathering data on kelp abundance, productivity and removal; 2. Social -- the collecting of harvester data through surveys and by providing public information/outreach to harvesters on importance of a sustainable habitat.