Presentation Abstract

During the 1980 and 1990s, bacterial contamination in Drayton Harbor resulted in bay-wide closures of tribal, commercial and recreational shellfish harvest. In 2001, Puget Sound Restoration Fund partnered with local shellfish farmer extraordinaire Geoff Menzies to launch the Drayton Harbor Community Oyster Farm. With Geoff at the helm, the community farm invigorated a 20+ year community-wide effort to restore 810 acres of growing area to Approved harvest status in 2016. At the outset, seeding oysters in a bay prohibited to harvest, and involving volunteers in oyster farming, was a gamble. But the vision was that if people became immersed in the bay – literally, while tending oysters – they would experience its productivity first-hand and advocate for cleanup. Working toward a harvest date would also provide a framework and timetable for pollution correction efforts. Oysters planted in 2001 would be ready to harvest in 2004, which meant that water quality needed to be improved enough to meet standards. With the clock ticking, many individuals and agencies worked relentlessly to find and fix pollution sources. Washington Department of Health provided critical early support, recognizing that new strategies were needed to solve chronic pollution problems. Volunteer “farmers of the tideflats” put their backs into raising a crop of oysters. And the Bellingham Herald published quarterly updates to maintain public focus. Remarkably, 575 acres were conditionally re-opened to harvest in 2004, in time for a community oyster celebration. Since then, agencies and watershed residents have worked to further improve water quality. In 2013, the Community Oyster Farm fledged into the for-profit Drayton Harbor Oyster Company, LLC. And in 2016, the Drayton Harbor watershed community achieved the long-time goal of year-round local shellfishing.

Session Title

Drayton Harbor Shellfish Recovery: A Case Study of Local Collaboration

Keywords

Drayton Harbor, Community oyster farm, Water quality, Shellfish growing

Conference Track

SSE2: Collaboration and Engagement

Conference Name

Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference (Seattle, WA : 2018)

Document Type

Event

SSEC Identifier

SSE2-527

Start Date

6-4-2018 8:30 AM

End Date

6-4-2018 8:45 AM

Type of Presentation

Oral

Contributing Repository

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

Geographic Coverage

Salish Sea (B.C. and Wash.)

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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Apr 6th, 8:30 AM Apr 6th, 8:45 AM

Engaging the community in Drayton Harbor's comeback story

During the 1980 and 1990s, bacterial contamination in Drayton Harbor resulted in bay-wide closures of tribal, commercial and recreational shellfish harvest. In 2001, Puget Sound Restoration Fund partnered with local shellfish farmer extraordinaire Geoff Menzies to launch the Drayton Harbor Community Oyster Farm. With Geoff at the helm, the community farm invigorated a 20+ year community-wide effort to restore 810 acres of growing area to Approved harvest status in 2016. At the outset, seeding oysters in a bay prohibited to harvest, and involving volunteers in oyster farming, was a gamble. But the vision was that if people became immersed in the bay – literally, while tending oysters – they would experience its productivity first-hand and advocate for cleanup. Working toward a harvest date would also provide a framework and timetable for pollution correction efforts. Oysters planted in 2001 would be ready to harvest in 2004, which meant that water quality needed to be improved enough to meet standards. With the clock ticking, many individuals and agencies worked relentlessly to find and fix pollution sources. Washington Department of Health provided critical early support, recognizing that new strategies were needed to solve chronic pollution problems. Volunteer “farmers of the tideflats” put their backs into raising a crop of oysters. And the Bellingham Herald published quarterly updates to maintain public focus. Remarkably, 575 acres were conditionally re-opened to harvest in 2004, in time for a community oyster celebration. Since then, agencies and watershed residents have worked to further improve water quality. In 2013, the Community Oyster Farm fledged into the for-profit Drayton Harbor Oyster Company, LLC. And in 2016, the Drayton Harbor watershed community achieved the long-time goal of year-round local shellfishing.