Port Susan Marine Stewardship Area
Port Susan, located in Puget Sound between Camano Island and northern Snohomish County, has been identified as a priority conservation area of high biodiversity importance. The Port Susan Marine Stewardship Area (MSA) was established in 2014 through a partnership between the Snohomish and Island County Marine Resource Committees (MRCs), Tulalip Tribes, the Stillaguamish Tribe, The Nature Conservancy, Washington State University Extension of Snohomish and Island Counties, and Washington Sea Grant. The MSA is a voluntary designation encouraging conservation of Port Susan’s natural, cultural, and scenic values by inspiring government agencies, organizations, landowners, and citizens to take actions and advocate for the protection of these resources.
More information can be found in this story map: Ten Years of Progress: The Port Susan Marine Stewardship Area Conservation Action Plan. Additional information about the unique ecological and recreational opportunities in Port Susan can be found at the Port Susan Bay Ecosystem Wiki and The Nature Conservancy's Port Susan Bay Preserve webpage.
Ten Years of Progress
In 2021, the Snohomish County MRC partnered with the Island County MRC to reconvene partners, assess the current status of the CAP, and identify opportunities to support conservation activities in Port Susan for the next decade and beyond.
This story map “Ten Years of Progress: The Port Susan Marine Stewardship Area Conservation Action Plan” documents lessons learned from the 10-Year Plan Revisit, highlights successes from the past decade, and outlines future actions on the horizon.
Conservation Action Planning
The Nature Conservancy’s Conservation Action Planning (CAP) process was used to guide development of a community-based marine stewardship plan for the Port Susan Marine Stewardship Area.
The plan aims to achieve a healthy marine and estuarine ecosystem with thriving biodiversity and strong recreational and resource based industries. The CAP document describes the planning process and includes the identified conservation targets, threats, and strategies.
More information on the Conservation Action Planning efforts in Port Susan can be found in the following documents:
As part of the 10-Year Plan Revisit, Snohomish County MRC developed a Progress Tracker to document the level of progress made towards the strategic actions identified for each Conservation Target. The Progress Tracker Document helps partners in Port Susan understand the status of each Conservation Target and identify opportunities for future improvement. The graphics below provide a high-level snapshot of progress to-date; additional information can be found by downloading the Progress Tracker document.
Partners have advanced several efforts in Port Susan including restoration projects, public outreach, collaborative planning, and research. Below is a snapshot of these initiatives, for additional information about other projects, please visit the story map: Ten Years of Progress: The Port Susan Marine Stewardship Area Conservation Action Plan
Leque Island, located between Port Susan and Skagit Bay, was previously diked and used for agricultural production. The Leque Island Restoration Project led to the restoration of 276 acres of habitat, providing access to salmon and other wildlife.
The Port Susan Owner’s Manual
The Port Susan Owner’s Manual is a reference for community members providing background and tips to protect Port Susan. The booklet teaches readers about the human habits that affect environmental conditions and contribute to species declines. To-date, over 400 copies have been distributed.
The Next Ten Years
Over the next ten years, partners will continue working to increase the resiliency of the Port Susan ecosystem. Current actions include salt marsh restoration, monitoring and research, shellfish enhancement, and promoting best management practices with shoreline landowners. Many Conservation Targets remain in need of attention, including:
- River Delta
- Advance farming methods in the river delta that are profitable and resilient to changing conditions.
- Chinook Salmon
- Limit residential and commercial runoff to prevent surface water pollution.
- Beaches/Forage Fish
- Update Shoreline Master Plan regulations related to tree and buffer protections in Island County.
- Dungeness Crab
- Increase enforcement of harvest regulations.
- Implement an early warning system to better adapt to ocean acidification and its impacts on shellfish.
- Limit floodplain development to protect habitat.
Port Susan 10-year Plan Review
In 2021 the Snohomish County Marine Resources Committee (MRC) partnered with the Island County MRC to reconvene partners, assess the current status of the CAP, and identify opportunities to support conservation activities in Port Susan for the next decade and beyond.
- Port Susan CAP review Executive Summary
- Port Susan CAP review Final Report
- Port Susan CAP review Progress Tracker
- Port Susan CAP Action Agenda Crosswalk Template
Island County MRC and the Snohomish County MRC partnered with UW Evans School Student Consulting Lab who completed a comprehensive review of the 2012 CAP in 2022. Their findings are below:
What is a Marine Stewardship Area?
A MSA is a conservation designation that works to generate responsibility among the relevant authorities and users of marine environments for the conservation of the natural, cultural, and scenic value. The MSA designation encourages citizen participation and a shared community vision, though the designation carries no regulatory authority.
Designation of the Port Susan MSA and adoption of a community based marine stewardship plan defines a community vision for enhanced stewardship of Port Susan. This allows for a greater shared understanding of the marine environment and ensure Port Susan continues to provide diverse benefits for people and wildlife. Enhanced stewardship encourages protection of marine resources through education, citizen science, voluntary measures, increased communications and partnerships, strong leadership and coordinated enforcement of existing regulation.