(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) announced that her legislation to reauthorize the Northwest Straits Marine Conservation Initiative Act passed through the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation.
Murray first introduced the Northwest Straits Initiative in 1997 with then-Representative Jack Metcalf after bringing stakeholders together to discuss how best to protect marine resources in the Northwest Straits. The goal of the Initiative is to restore and protect marine habitat in the Northwest Straits in order to achieve ecosystem health and sustainable resource use. The legislation which passed Committee today reauthorizes the Northwest Straits Commission, which designs and initiates projects that address marine habitat restoration projects in the Northwest Straits of the Puget Sound.
“The Northwest Straits are one of our state’s most treasured economic and environmental resources,” said Senator Murray. “And this bill will help to ensure that the Northwest Straits Commission can continue their work to protect them. The Commission has gained national recognition for its conservation efforts and ability to bring stakeholders together. The legislation will further their research, stewardship, and restoration efforts."
This legislation is co-sponsored by Senator Cantwell in the Senate, and a companion bill has been introduced in the House by Congressman Larsen.
Since it was first authorized by Congress in 1998, Senator Murray has helped secure over $10 million for the Northwest Straits Initiative.
Today, the Northwest Straits Commission and its seven county volunteer groups extend from Clallam, Jefferson, Whatcom, Skagit, San Juan, Island and Snohomish counties. The program awards grant funds which have been used to facilitate bottomfish recovery, conduct nearshore habitat inventories, protect forage fish species, establish marine protected areas, conduct habitat assessments remove, fishing nets and facilitate education and outreach.
The Northwest Straits Commission is a grassroots effort that involves representatives from county, tribal, state and federal governments, non-profit organizations and volunteers who are working together to protect and restore marine resources in northern Puget Sound.