Marine Protected Areas in Puget Sound

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) have been present in Puget Sound since the early 1900s, although most were established after the 1960s (Whitesell et al. 2008, Van Cleve 2009). By 1998 there were at least 102 intertidal and subtidal protected areas in Puget Sound, created and managed by at least 12 different agencies or organizations at the local, county, State and Federal level (Murray and Ferguson 1998).

Figure 1. Marine Protected Areas within Puget Sound. Source: Washington Department of Fish & WildlifeA 2009 inventory found a total of 127 MPAs in Washington, of which 16% were no-take areas in which all resource harvest is prohibited. In addition to areas restricting harvest, some MPAs involve habitat protections or restrict non-harvest activities such as vessel anchoring or recreational access (Van Cleve et al. 2009). There are 110 officially designated MPAs in Puget Sound (366,503 acres and almost 600 miles of shoreline) of which 24 are within the national MPA system (Osterberg 2012).

Figure 2. Map of seven MPAs studied in 2010The main forms of Puget Sound MPAs are: no-fishing areas declared by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to improve fish populations and protect habitat (Figure 1), diving/no-fishing reserves spearheaded by SCUBA diving enthusiasts and sanctioned by WDFW (Sund Rock and Brackett’s Landing, Figure 1 and 2), and aquatic reserves declared by WA Department of Natural Resources (WA DNR, Smith and Miner Islands and Maury Island Aquatic Reserves found on Figure 2) to regulate bottomland leasing in critical areas in order to improve marine habitat conditions. The majority of the WDFW MPAs are small and recent in their designation (Table 1). They vary in terms of citizen engagement and frequency of use by recreational SCUBA divers. Conservation Areas are fully protected from non-tribal fishing, whereas Preserves allow for some forms of fishing, usually for salmon with trolling gear (Palsson, pers. comm.). Fifty percent of the sites contain rocky reef habitat utilized by ESA listed rockfish and popular with divers. Some, but not all, of the WDFW MPAs are part of the national MPA system.

MPA Name

Date  Est.

Area (Hectare)

Level of Citizen Engagement

Dive Usage

Preserve or Conservation Area

Rocky Reef

Table 1. Status of WA Department of Fish and Wildlife declared marine protected areas. (Information provided by Wayne Palsson of WDFW)

1) Admiralty Head

2002

35.77

Low

Low

Preserve

Yes

2) Argyle Lagoon

1990

5.78

Low- Friday Harbor Labs (FHL)

None, intertidal

Preserve

 

3) Brackett's Landing

1970

23.81

High-City of Edmonds, volunteer divers, many other divers

High

Conservation Area

 

4) Carkeek Park

2005

9.97

Medium-Seattle Aquarium, Carkeek Park supporters

None, intertidal

Preserve

 

5) City of Des Moines Park

1998

3.73

Low

None, intertidal

Preserve

 

6) Colvos Passage 

2000

1.32

High, Dive clubs

High

Preserve

 

7) Discovery Park

2005

16.58

Low, Seattle Aquarium

None, intertidal

Preserve

 

8) Emma Schmitz

2005

2.56

Medium-Seattle Aquarium, Carkeek Park supporters

None, intertidal

Preserve

 

9) False Bay 

1990

123.72

Low- FHL

None, intertidal

Preserve

 

10) Friday Harbor

1990

172.21

Medium-FHL, San Juan Marine Resource Committee (SJMRC)

Medium-research divers

Preserve

Yes

11) Golden Gardens

2005

5.62

Medium-Seattle Aquarium, Carkeek Park supporters

None, intertidal

Preserve

 

12) Keystone 

2002

4.61

High-Dive clubs, State Parks

High

Conservation Area

Yes

13) Lincoln Park

2005

4.11

Medium-Seattle Aquarium, Carkeek Park supporters

None, intertidal

Preserve

 

14) Octopus Hole

1994

13.19

Medium-Kelp Crawlers, Hood Canal Coordinating Council, REEF divers

High

Conservation Area

Yes

15) Orchard Rocks

1998

41.93

Low-Kelp Crawlers

Low

Conservation Area

Yes

16) Richey Viewpoint 

2005

4.68

Medium-Seattle Aquarium, Carkeek Park supporters

None, intertidal

Preserve

 

17) Saltar's Point Beach 

2000

1.56

Low

None, intertidal

Conservation Area

 

18) Shaw Island

1990

183.66

Medium-FHL, SJMRC

Low

Preserve

Yes

19) South 239th St. Park 

1998

0.08

Low

None, intertidal

Conservation Area

 

20) Sund Rock 

1994

28.81

High

High

Conservation Area

Yes

21) Titlow Beach 

1994

16.86

Medium-Tacoma Schools, divers

Medium

Preserve

Yes

22) Waketickeh 

2000

59.22

Medium-REEF Divers, other dive clubs

Medium

Preserve

Yes

23) Yellow and Low Islands

1990

75.75

High-The Nature Conservancy, FHL, SJMRC

Low

Conservation Area

Yes

24) Zee's Reef 

2002

22.64

High-The Nature Conservancy, FHL, SJMRC

High

Preserve

Yes

25) Toliva Shoal

2006

65.67

Low-WA Dept of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW)

Low

Preserve

Yes

26) Saltwater State Park

2009

4.29547

Medium-WDFW, State Parks, WA Scuba Alliance

Medium

Preserve

Yes

 

References:

Murray, MR and Ferguson L. 1998. The Status of Marine Protected Areas. Proceedings of the Puget Sound Research Conference, Seattle, WA. Puget Sound Water Quality Action Team. 1998 pp. 783-793.

Osterberg, A. 2012. Developing a Network of Marine Protected Areas in Puget Sound. A Synthesis Report on Challenges, Opportunities and Policy Options. A report prepared for the Puget Sound Partnership under WA Sea Grant Hershman Fellowship program.

Van Cleve, FB, G Bargmann, M Culver, and the MPA Work Group. 2009. Marine Protected Areas in Washington: Recommendations of the Marine Protected Areas Work Group to the Washington State Legislature. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Olympia, WA.

Whitesell, EH, FW Schroeder and P. Hardison. 2008. Protecting Washington Marine Environments: Tribal Perspectives. Olympia, WA. 43 pp. Unpublished Report.