Priority Marine Sites for Conservation in the Puget Sound

This 2006 report from the Washington Department of Natural Resources identifies areas of Washington's inland marine waters with high conservation value.

Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserve. Photo courtesy of the Washington Department of Natural Resources.
Fidalgo Bay Aquatic Reserve. Photo courtesy of the Washington Department of Natural Resources.

The Priority Marine Sites report from the Department of Natural Resources was a collaborative effort by a community of marine biology and ecology experts with extensive experience in the Puget Sound region. The report serves as a supplement and guide for the Aquatic Reserves Program, which protects state-owned aquatic land with special environmental, educational, or scientific interest.

From the report introduction:

Over the last several years there has been an increasing call for protecting critical aquatic ecosystems around and world and in the Pacific Northwest. Coastal areas are under pressure from modifications due to increased population growth, recreational use, and commercial use. Many sites around the world are being protected through various measures, including conservation areas. Marine conservation areas serve several functions—including the protection of rare and endangered native marine species and
habitats—to serve as a standard for comparing how people affect the marine environment, and as ecological studies. At this time aquatic habitats in Puget Sound that have the most significant ecological function and services are being identified and prioritized for conservation. The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) believes it is important to raise the awareness of the importance of these sites to decision makers and resource users, and to conserve the utility of these aquatic resources before the opportunity is lost.

This report identifies and prioritizes marine habitats with high conservation value for nine sub-regions of Washington’s inland marine waters. DNR will use this report to identify marine sites to be considered for State Aquatic Reserve status and develop site priorities for the Aquatic Reserves Program to establish over the next decade. The sites that are recommended in this report will not be considered for reserve status unless they are reviewed and evaluated through the implementation process, and meet the criteria established for the Aquatic Reserves Program. DNR will provide this information to government agencies, work groups, Tribes, marine resource committees, and non-governmental organizations that have management responsibilities, or that focus their interest on marine resources.


WA DNR Aquatic Reserves Program