The Northwest Straits Commission provides funding, training and support to seven county-based Marine Resources Committees (MRCs). It facilitates regional coordination among the MRCs and connects the MRC work to regional planning processes such as the Puget Sound Partnership Action Agenda and Puget Sound Nearshore Estuary Restoration Program. The Northwest Straits Commission also takes on and manages regional projects that are of interest to all MRCs such as training volunteers to identify forage fish spawning sites.
The MRCs are locally-based advisory groups comprised of volunteers with an interest in protecting their local marine waters. MRCs receive base funding through grant agreements with the NWS Commission to accomplish priority restoration and protection work in their local areas.
The Northwest Straits Foundation is a nonprofit organization established to leverage additional financial resources to accomplish the work of the Initiative. The Northwest Straits Foundation raises private and public funds and also manages large regional projects such as the removal of derelict fishing gear and restoration of many shoreline sites.
The work of the Northwest Straits Commission, the MRCs and the Northwest Straits Foundation all focus on the same goal-- to restore and protect our marine waters. Each component of the Initiative has unique skills and organizational characteristics that allow for strong collective action. The sum of our work is greater than its individual parts.
Goal 1: Accelerate the rate of shoreline and nearshore habitat protection and restoration with the goal of a net gain of functional habitat. Work in harmony with regional planning efforts that have identified projects that increase shoreline connectivity and complexity. Design restoration projects, where feasible, to help mitigate the effects of sea level rise and changing ocean conditions.
Goal 2: Support water quality monitoring efforts and take measures to protect and improve water quality.
Goal 3: Protect and restore marine species and habitats to improve ecosystem health.
Goal 4: Educate local residents about the health of the Northwest Straits marine waters and habitat and provide opportunities for engagement. Raise attention to and take action on emerging and urgent issues related to the health of the region’s marine waters and habitat.
The Northwest Straits Region
The Northwest Straits region includes the U.S. marine waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the San Juan Islands and northern Puget Sound reaching from the southern borders of Snohomish and Jefferson counties to the Canadian border. Seven counties, 15 tribes, many cities and other local governments have jurisdiction in the region.
Iconic species such as pacific salmon, Puget Sound southern resident orca, western grebe, and rockfish all depend on a healthy Northwest Straits ecosystem as does our state's fishing and wildlife viewing industry. Recreational fishing in Washington State is an $850 million industry, state commercial fisheries generate more than $200 million annually, and wildlife viewing contributes nearly $1 billion a year. Furthermore, the marine resources of the NW Straits region contribute to high quality of life and in fact, five of the seven NW Straits counties were among the top-ten highest growth counties in Washington State between 1990 and 2000.