Policy Pivot in Puget Sound

SMEA Professors Patrick Christie and David Fluharty, SMEA alumna Haley Kennard and co-authors recently published a paper in Ocean & Coastal Management titled “Policy pivot in Puget Sound: Lessons learned from marine protected areas and tribally-led estuarine restoration.” The paper’s authors examine two approaches to restore the Puget Sound basin in light of multiple drivers of change that place an accelerating squeeze on marine and coastal habitats and limit their ability to provide ecosystem services; Marine Protected Area (MPA) designation and estuary restoration (ER). While enthusiasm for MPAs mounted nationally and internationally, MPAs in Puget Sound appear to have been inconsistently implemented or enforced and “no-take” MPA designation has stalled. On the other hand,  Washington State tribes are leading ambitious estuary restoration projects. ER efforts are overcoming sharp objections and controversies by crafting projects to deliver multiple social-ecological benefits: improved flood control and drainage, salmon recovery, recreational enjoyment, and resilience to climate change. A key human dimensions research-based recommendation is that increasing environmental pressures intensify the need to strengthen collaborative and sustained planning and implementation processes.