Shellfish Enhancement & Restoration

Aquaculture is used to enhance shellfish on the Northwest by the outplanting of shellfish seed. In Washington, the State Department of Fish and Wildlife enhances Manila clams and Pacific oysters to support tribal and recreational shellfish harvest. Aquaculture is also used in the West Coast Region to restore populations of native oysters and abalone.

Olympia oysters: NOAA Fisheries, along with regional tribes, state agencies, the shellfish industry, and non-governmental organizations, is a contributing partner to a long term endeavor to rebuild dense, breeding populations of Olympia oysters in bays and estuaries along the West Coast. In Washington, the proposed goal is to restore 100 acres of native oyster habitat in Puget Sound by 2020, in accordance with the state guidelines. In Oregon, native oyster habitat is being actively restored in Coos Bay. Numerous oyster restoration projects are underway in California including San Fransisco Bay & Elkhorn Slough. A new native shellfish hatchery at NOAA Fisheries Manchester Laboratory will provide seed stock for restoration efforts.

Pinto abalone: NOAA Fisheries is also a partner in efforts to help restore the declining population of Pinto abalone, an edible marine mollusk that lives in Washington's shallow, nearshore waters. The grant is part of the federal agency's Species of Concern Program, aimed at reversing declines of marine life and forestalling the need to list them under the Endangered Species Act. Abalone plays an important role in the health of marine ecosystems-they are "ecosystems engineers," meaning they inhabit subtidal rocky habitat and, via grazing behaviors, conditions the habitat for colonization by other species. Abalones are spawned and reared at NOAA Fisheries Mukilteo Laboratory prior to being tagged and released.