Contact: Jeff Donald
NOAA News Releases 2005
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The Northwest Straits Marine Conservation Initiative will be featured during the White House Conference on Cooperative Conservation in St. Louis, Mo at the end of August.

Congress established the Initiative in 1998 in response to environmental and economic crises facing Puget Sound in Northwest Washington including a severely deteriorated fishery. The focus was to have a community-based approach to protecting and conserving the area. The effort included establishing areas protected by volunteers, conducting citizen driven scientific studies on marine species including the prey species of anadromous fish, and restoring marine habitat by removing abandoned commercial fishing debris such as commercial fishing nets. A congressional evaluation of the Initiative found the project to be one of the most innovative and important experiments in citizen-based conservation in the United States.

“The Initiative’s success thus far can serve as a foundation on which to build toward significant and sustained protection and restoration of marine resources in the Northwest Straits,” said William Ruckelshaus, former EPA administrator and chair of the evaluation.

"It's very exciting to see citizens empowered to set priorities for restoration and conservation in their communities and then follow-up with specific actions," said Tom Cowan, director of the Northwest Straits Commission. "They directly improve the health of vital marine resources and habitat through projects including restoration of native Olympia oysters, removal of derelict fishing nets and pots from 74 acres of sea floor and documentation new spawning habitat for forage fish."

The Northwest Straits Initiative supports NOAA’s mission by protecting, restoring, and managing coastal and ocean resources. Retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator said, “The Northwest Straits Initiative is a classic example of how cooperative conservation strengthens shared governance and boosts citizen stewardship.”

In August 2004 President George W. Bush signed the Executive Order titled Facilitation of Cooperative Conservation directing the federal agencies involved in environmental policy to actively promote cooperative conservation. On August 29, 30 and 31, 2005, invited representatives from the public and private sectors will meet in St. Louis, Mo to share experiences and expertise to advance the cooperative conservation vision.

NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources.

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