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Puget Sound Kelp Conservation and Recovery Plan

We envision revitalized Puget Sound kelp forests stretching from Olympia to Vancouver, B.C. providing economic, recreational, and ecological benefits to all living things that call these shores and waters home.
- Puget Sound Kelp Conservation and Recovery Plan Vision Statement

Puget Sound Kelp

Kelp forests provide critical refuge, feeding, and nursery grounds for forage fish, rockfish, and salmon, as well as fueling food webs that support healthy bird and marine mammal populations—including Southern Resident killer whales. Kelp plays a vital role in the symbolic and spiritual aspects of traditional Northwest Coast cultures and supports the local economy.

Kelp is declining in areas throughout Puget Sound, with substantial decreases or disappearance of floating kelp beds in south and central Puget Sound. Cumulative impacts from human and climatic stressors threaten kelp. Unfortunately, our understanding of Puget Sound kelp and its stressors is limited, hindering kelp conservation.


The Kelp Plan is a collaborative tool that provides a research and management framework for coordinated action to improve understanding of kelp forest population changes and declines, while also working to implement and strengthen recovery and protective measures.

The Kelp Plan provides an overview of kelp forests in Puget Sound, including distribution and trends, stressors, critical ecosystem roles, and cultural values. The plan also recommends strategies to reduce stressors, provides a blueprint to protect and restore kelp forests, and urges continued and strengthened collaboration between diverse groups.

There has been a lot of progress with the actions in the Kelp Plan, but we are still at the early stages of the plan, and there remains an urgent need to continue and expand engagement, capacity, funding, and coordination to conserve and recover Puget Sound kelp.

 To learn key points about local kelp, the Kelp Plan, or how to get involved, view our series of short slideshows, The Under Story!

The Under Story is our social media post series all about kelp and the Puget Sound Kelp Conservation and Recovery Plan (Kelp Plan)! Join us and our partners on this exciting journey as we explore kelp, its vital role in our ecosystem, and efforts to protect Puget Sound kelp forests. Stay tuned for more insights, fun facts, and ways to get involved in preserving this incredible marine resource! Look for posts approximately every two weeks and please like and share to spread the word!

View The Under Story on Facebook: @northweststraitsinitiative | Instagram: @nwstraits | LinkedIn: @nwstraits | Vimeo: Northwest Straits

The Kelp Plan Status Update

Status Update

This Puget Sound Kelp Conservation and Recovery Plan: Status Update summarizes advancements in the actions within the Kelp Plan between early 2020 and early 2023, and provides workshop-generated needs and next steps to continue our collective progress towards accomplishing the Kelp Plan goals and actions.

Policy Recommendations

The Kelp Policy Recommendations document was developed by the Kelp Policy Advisory Group and funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts. It summarizes 11 recommendations to advance effectiveness of kelp policy in Washington. The recommendations are intended to outline the guidance, resources, and tools needed for individuals and entities responsible for upholding kelp protection and recovery measures and authorities in Washington, especially those at local jurisdictions.

The Northwest Straits Initiative along with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries), Washington Department of Natural Resources (WDNR), Marine Agronomics LLC, Puget Sound Restoration Fund lead the large collaborative multiyear development of the Puget Sound Kelp Conservation and Recovery Plan.




Kelp photo gallery

The photos on our webpage and in the photo gallery below showcase stunning images that have been graciously shared with us, and included here by permission of the photographers. If you wish to use any of these photos or seek more information, please feel free to contact Jeff Whitty. We appreciate the generosity of our contributors and their commitment to sharing their work. Thank you.

Kelp plan website photo credits: Appendix A: Brooke Weigel; Appendix B: Brooke Weigel; Appendix C: Florian Graner; Learn: Alisa Taylor; Get involved: Don Meehan; Additional Resources: Adam Obaza

Climate Commitment ActThe Puget Sound Kelp Conservation and Recovery Plan is supported with funding from Washington’s Climate Commitment Act. The CCA supports Washington’s climate action efforts by putting cap-and-invest dollars to work reducing climate pollution, creating jobs, and improving public health. Information about the CCA is available at