Implementation Strategy for Puget Sound’s Shellfish Beds Recovery Target

This article provides an overview and a link to further information about the Shellfish Implementation Strategy. Implementation Strategies (Strategies) are plans for accelerating progress toward the 2020 ecosystem recovery targets for the Puget Sound Vital Signs. The Strategies are developed collaboratively with technical, professional, and policy experts and with local and regional input. They are funded by the Environmental Protection Agency.


Puget Sound recovery is governed by the Action Agenda for Puget Sound, the approved Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) under the Federal Clean Water Act that outlines the regional strategies and specific actions needed to recover the largest estuary in the USA. One way to organize recovery efforts has been through tracking more than twenty Vital Signs, indicators with specific recovery targets that help the region measure progress.

Cleaning up the Puget Sound is a collaborative effort between state and federal agencies, tribal governments, local governments, business and environmental groups, and many others. Such a complex and huge undertaking demands thoughtful and evolving strategic approaches that align diverse efforts across the region and leverage limited resources to maximize gains. Developing this implementation strategy is a test-case to determine if a more effective approach to reaching Vital Sign targets can be realized, in this case for shellfish beds.

What are Implementation Strategies in the context of Puget Sound recovery?

Implementation Strategies are intended to unite, guide, and integrate efforts to recover ecosystem components that have been selected as Puget Sound Vital Signs (among other roles: see Box 1.1). They are also intended to provide more focused content for the Action Agenda than has been included to date.Implementation Strategies articulate long-term recovery pathways, prioritizing near-term actions most likely to achieve recovery target(s). They should provide perspective and direction for local recovery efforts to be better aligned with regional priorities (e.g., propose Near Term Actions for the Action Agenda that support recommended strategies). Three Implementation Strategies are currently in development: this one for Shellfish Beds, another for Estuaries, and a third for Chinook salmon. In 2014, PSP and Department of Natural Resources (DNR) convened a diverse stakeholder group to prepare the “Puget Sound Eelgrass (Zostera marina) Recovery Strategy.” Taking lessons from that initial effort, Implementation Strategies for Shellfish Beds and estuaries were prepared in spring 2015 as test-cases to determine feasibility. Implementation Strategies are expected to be revised and to improve with each cycle of the adaptive management process.

Implementation Strategies are intended to serve the entire community of those with an interest and a part in recovery, in general, and in relation to the focal Vital Sign. This includes legislators and policy makers, local implementers, and funding agencies, as well as recovery practitioners and professionals. Implementation Strategiesshould ultimately increase the confidence and consensus of this entire community in the collective approaches for success.

How to use this document

This Implementation Strategy is a guide with which practitioners, implementers, sponsors, and those making decisions about shellfish beds recovery can align ongoing andfuture actions within the context of regional priorities. It states the rationale for recovery, assumptions about how recovery might be achieved, and what the priorities should be. All are open to question and improvement.

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