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May 2021

Jonathan Hallenbeck checking a trap for invasive green crab in Drayton Harbor. Photo: Allie Simpson

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Field season begins to remove invasive green crab

With help from Whatcom MRC, WA Department of Fish and Wildlife, and WA Sea Grant, we have started our green crab removal efforts in Drayton Harbor, near Blaine, WA. This is about two months earlier than we were able to start last year and already we’ve captured 15 green crabs! Finding and removing green crabs is especially important in Drayton Harbor as this area had one of the worst infestations in the Salish Sea last year. Green crabs can destroy eelgrass meadows, decimate shellfish beds, and fight with juvenile Dungeness crabs for habitat – all of which are present in Drayton Harbor. 

We’ve formed a stellar field crew this year whose main goal is to trap and remove as many green crabs as possible. “It’s been a great start this season, with nice weather and early timing on our side” commented Jonathan Hallenbeck, the Marine and Nearshore Technician for the Commission and an integral member of the field crew. “I feel like we’ll be able to get a good idea about what’s happening in Drayton Harbor as far as green crabs are concerned.” 

Click here to learn more about our work to control the spread of green crab. 

Cleaner beaches around the Sound!

Volunteers on a beach behind a pile of tires and debris they collected for disposal.
Community volunteers at Seahorse Siesta with some of the collected tires and debris. Photo: Anna Toledo
Snohomish MRC hosted a shoreline cleanup with WSU Snohomish County on Earth Day, where volunteers picked up over 900 pounds of litter! Much of what was picked up were plastic bottles and aluminum cans. Food packaging, dog poop bags, and face masks were also documented. The data collected by the MRC will be shared with local partners in an effort to document to types of debris impacting our waterways.

In San Juan, community members continue to sign up as beach stewards through the MRC’s Plastic Free Salish Sea “Adopt a Beach” campaign. In partnership with the National Park Service, three popular beaches in American Camp are now included in the initiative. The Spring Great Islands Clean-Up event on April 24 brought out San Juan MRC members and beach stewards around the county for a big day of debris removal.

Island MRC worked with the Seahorse Siesta community to organize a cleanup of tires and marine debris along the shoreline west of the Seahorse Siesta restoration site. Volunteers gathered 70 tires along with a broken kayak, rebar, and other debris. Washington Department of Natural Resources marine debris removal program will dispose of the debris when higher tides allow them to access the site.

Thanks to the many volunteers for being part of these cleanup efforts!

MyCoast webinar available

Island MRC and Sound Water Stewards hosted a training on how to use the MyCoast app, a smartphone app to track and report beach change and nearshore hazards to enhance awareness among decision-makers and stakeholders.
If you’ve been interested in helping to report marine conditions, such as derelict vessels and creosote debris, this recorded training will help orient you to using the app, and you can use it whenever you head to the beach. Learn more about MyCoast at
Preview of MyCoast app tutorial webinar on Vimeo
MyCoast Webinar

Pinto abalone recovery in Skagit

Pinto abalone restoration and monitoring efforts in Skagit County began anew this season with an exciting discovery: project partners, WA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife and Puget Sound Restoration Fund divers, found lots of juvenile pinto abalone at two sites previously thought to have very low survival rates! Those two sites have been added back on the list for future population restoration by continuing to outplant juveniles.

Other good news for 2021 is that this year was a bumper crop for hatchery abalone, so there will be about twice as many outplanted as proposed this year for four restoration sites in Skagit County. 

Read more about Skagit MRC's role in bringing back this state endangered species. 

Member updates

Welcome, new members
On the Skagit MRC, Catey Ritchie will replace Todd Mitchell as the representative for Swinomish Indian Tribal Community. In Whatcom, new member Kathy Ketteridge was appointed to fill a Citizen-at-Large position. Welcome!

In memoriam
Bob Campbell, former Clallam MRC chair, passed away on March 21. As facilities director at Feiro Marine Life Center, Bob oversaw everything to do with the well-being of the animals in his care and encouraged kids’ exploration of the marine environment. In 2012, the Puget Sound Partnership recognized Bob as a Puget Sound Champion for his work in stewardship and education. Those who knew him will remember his delighted, infectious laugh. Read his obituary here.

Northwest Straits in the news

Earth Day event helps cleanup local shorelines - North County Outlook, April 27, 2021

European Green Crab trapping season starts in Drayton Harbor - The Northern Light, April 28, 2021

Volunteers Protect Kelp in Puget Sound - NERRA News, April 26, 2021

Meet our new chair

Elsa Schwartz

Elsa Schwartz, Island MRC member shown out crabbing with Puget Sound in the background

At our April meeting the Northwest Straits Commission elected a new slate of officers. We’re excited to announce that Island MRC representative Elsa Schwartz will serve as the chair of the Commission for the next year. Tom Cowan, Governor’s appointee to the Commission will serve as the vice chair. We’re looking forward to this fantastic leadership team!

Many thanks to our outgoing chair, Clallam MRC representative Alan Clark, for serving and leading during such a challenging time this past two years. We appreciate your energy and ability to maintain momentum!

Pictured above: Elsa Schwartz

Safe boating around whales

Are you planning to go boating in the Salish Sea this summer? Flying the Whale Warning Flag in the presence of whales helps alert other boaters, prompting them to slow down and follow Be Whale Wise best practices. 

If you don’t have one already, get ready for the 2021 boating season by picking one up from the San Juan MRC. Read more and order your flag here.

Making a bed for Olympia oysters

MRC volunteers with wheelbarrows full of clean oyster shell
Jefferson MRC volunteers recently gathered for a shell toss to spread 80 bags of Pacific oyster shell at their Discovery Bay oyster restoration site, delivered by Taylor Shellfish.

12 MRC members and community volunteers placed shell in several areas along the shoreline to help provide a place for little oyster larvae to land and grow.
Click here to learn more about the Jefferson MRC Olympia oyster restoration project.
Join our next Northwest Straits Commission meeting
May 28, 2021 - 10am-12pm

New to the library

Our online resource library has materials from the MRCs and Commission. Here are a few of the most recent additions: 


The Northwest Straits Commission provides funding, training and support to seven county-based Marine Resources Committees (MRCs) to assist with their work protecting and restoring local marine resources. Learn more about the Commission on our website at



This work has been funded wholly or in part by the US EPA. The contents of this newsletter do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the EPA, nor does mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation for use. 

Copyright © 2021 Northwest Straits Commission, All rights reserved.

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