Photo: Kathleen Pozarycki
Port Susan Marine Stewardship Area

Port Susan Marine Stewardship Area

The Nature Conservancy has identified Port Susan as a priority conservation area of high biodiversity importance (Floberg et al. 2004).  Since 2007, work has been underway to develop a Port Susan Marine Stewardship Area (MSA) through a partnership between the Snohomish and Island County MRCsTulalip Tribes, the Stillaguamish Tribe, The Nature Conservancy, WSU Extension of Snohomish and Island Counties and Washington Sea Grant (with support from the NWSC).  In 2014, a resolution passed by Snohomish County Council designated Port Susan as a voluntary marine stewardship area. For more information on the overall project, please contact Kathleen Pozarycki.  A few additional resources are the Port Susan Bay Ecosystem Wiki and The Nature Conservancy's Port Susan Bay Preserve.

What Is A Marine Stewardship Area?

A marine stewardship area (MSA) is a conservation designation that works to generate responsibility within the relevant authorities and users of marine environments for the conservation of the natural, cultural, and scenic value.  It encourages citizen participation and a common community vision.  The designation carries no regulatory authority.   

Designation of the Port Susan Marine Stewardship Area (PSMSA) and adoption of a community based marine stewardship plan defines a community vision for enhanced stewardship of Port Susan.  This will lead to a greater understanding of the marine environment and ensure Port Susan continues to provide diverse benefits for all people.  Enhanced stewardship will encourage protection of marine resources through education, citizen science, voluntary measures, increased communications and partnerships, strong leadership and coordinated enforcement of existing regulation.  

Conservation Action Planning

The Nature Conservancy’s Conservation Action Planning (CAP) process is guiding development of a community-based marine stewardship plan for the proposed Port Susan Marine Stewardship Area. 

At a joint meeting in Coupeville on December 6, 2011 the Snohomish and Island County MRCs voted unanimously to support the Port Susan Marine Stewardship Area Conservation Action Plan and take it to their elected officials for approval.  

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. 

In 2014, the MRC worked to develop a report card to highlight partner progress on the strategies identified in the CAP. The goal is to reconnect Port Susan partners, share and demonstrate success that is occurring across the landscape, and galvanize new efforts.

More Information

Photo: Scott Chase

Incentives Project

In 2014, the MRC worked with Futurewise to develop recommendations for shoreline incentive programs that will improve nearshore habitat. Through a stakeholder process involving interviews and a workshop, 29 shoreline landowner incentives were explored for feasibility and potential success in Snohomish County. Out of that process, four incentives were ranked highest as potential approaches:

  • Establishing a Beach Management District
  • Creating a Shorelines Education and Technical Assistance Program
  • Offering Focused Shoreline Grants or Cost-Share Awards to Landowners
  • Adding a Shoreline Component to Conservation District’s Program

Work with stakeholders suggested that multiple incentives could be combined to create a program that includes three key elements: funding, permitting/technical assistance, and education/demonstration.

More Information

2012 Puget Sound Champions Award Recipient

The Snohomish County MRC and project partners, Island County MRC, Tulalip Tribes, the Stillaguamish Tribe, The Nature Conservancy, WSU Extension of Snohomish and Island Counties, and Washington Sea Grant, were presented as 2012 Puget Sound Champions in recognition of developing a Conservation Action Plan for the Port Susan Marine Stewardship Area. 

The award was presented during the Snohomish and Stillaguamish Watershed Local Integrating Organization (LIO) meeting held on January 7, 2013.

Photo: Marlin Greene
Photo: Peter Murray

Related Articles


NWSC Benchmarks Achieved:
Education & Outreach, Science, Marine Habitat, Marine Life, Marine Water Quality

Floberg, J., M. Goering, G. Wilhere, C. MacDonald, C. Chappell, C. Rumsey, Z. Ferdana,A. Holt, P. Skidmore, T. Horsman, E. Alverson, C. Tanner, M. Bryer, P. Iachetti, A. Harcombe,B. McDonald, T.Cook, M. Summers, D. Rolph. 2004. Willamette Valley-Puget Trough-Georgia Basin Ecoregional Assessment, Volume One: Report. Prepared by The Nature Conservancy with support from the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Washington Department of Natural Resources (Natural Heritage and Nearshore Habitat programs), Oregon State Natural Heritage Information Center and the British Columbia Conservation Data Centre.

Port Susan Marine Stewardship Area