Improved monitoring of toxics in nearshore environments in Puget Sound, Washington
January 2022 - May 2023
Monitoring toxics in nearshore marine environments is important because this habitat is the interface between land and water. The Puget Sound Partnership’s (PSP) Leadership Council recently identified this as priority information need by authorizing the addition of nearshore toxics monitoring (using mussels) to the PSP’s Toxics in Aquatic Life Vital Sign indicators. Toxic contaminants have been monitored for almost 30 years in other Puget Sound species (flatfish, herring and salmon) in other habitats, but monitoring for toxics in the nearshore has only recently begun. Recovery goals for toxics typically mean reductions in contamination to levels that make the organisms safe for people to consume, or to levels that will not harm the animals. The design of this monitoring program will consider recovery goals specifically tailored to communities impacted by contaminants in the nearshore. The project is a collaboration of researchers at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the USGS Washington Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit. This project is intended to cut across otherwise disparate monitoring and recovery efforts, by joining ecological ideas with the social sciences to bring a more meaningful and environmentally just approach to ecosystem recovery. It will specifically seek out affected communities typically excluded from such decision-making, consider non-traditional concepts of health and vitality, and honor the full diversity of cultures using these resources.