PMEP partners met in Arcata, California in late January to develop their annual workplan, refine PMEP’s strategic plan, learn about local restoration projects and affirm their’ shared vision for healthy estuarine and marine nearshore fish habitat along the West Coast. We also gave John Bragg, of South Slough National Research Reserve, a special sendoff, thanking him for his years of service to PMEP. Thanks again, John! Enjoy your retirement!
The Pacific Marine & Estuarine Fish Habitat Partnership (PMEP) is pleased to announce its FY2019 funded projects. The three projects, Eelgrass Expansion in the Morro Bay Estuary, Assessment and mapping of seagrass and macroalgae kelp habitats, and Mattole River Estuary Middle Slough Restoration, represent important conservation priorities of PMEP. The projects have been selected for funding through the National Fish Habitat Partnership. $124,118 has been awarded to PMEP to fund these projects through the Fish and Aquatic Conservation Program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the following three projects. Read more about these projects at here.
PMEP has issued a Request for Proposals for Nearshore Science support for our nearshore project. PMEP seeks to identify a contractor to conduct literature reviews, compile available information, and collaborate with regional experts including the PMEP nearshore regional working group to develop a “State of the Knowledge” report on West Coast nearshore habitats. The full RFP can be found at the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission website here.
PMEP hosted a Data Tools Cafe at the 9th National Summit on Coastal and Estuarine Restoration and Management, held in Long Beach in December 2018. The session introduced PMEP to restoration practitioners, researchers, and resource managers as it highlighted the many functions and uses of PMEP data tools. The session featured hands-on exercises to get participants familiar with the data tools. Participants walked through the Estuary Explorer tools, finding which estuaries on the west coast are at low-risk for habitat degradation, where tidal forested wetlands are located, and where wetland restoration would most benefit federally managed species. These questions showed the value of the data tools to habitat conservation and restoration planning, minimizing impact on Essential Fish Habitat, and assessing the benefits of projects to species and habitats. The session exemplified PMEP’s collaborative structure by including speakers from The Nature Conservancy, NOAA Fisheries, Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development, Estuary Technical Group, and the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission.
The Pacific Marine and Estuarine Fish Habitat Partnership has plotted its course for the next five years. Its recently approved 2018-2022 Strategic Plan identifies three overarching priorities for work over the next five years:
- Protect, restore and enhance fish habitat in California, Oregon, and Washington Estuaries with an emphasis on juvenile rearing areas.
- Protect, restore, and enhance fish habitat in the nearshore Pacific Ocean.
- Increase Connectivity between habitats within PMEP’s geographic scope.
We will accomplish this work through the collaborative partnerships we have built over the last decade. The full Strategic Plan 2018-2022 can be found here.
PMEP welcomes Joan Drinkwin of Natural Resource Consultants as the new PMEP Coordinator. Joan specializes in designing and implementing strategic conservation programs and projects. She is an experienced coordinator with over 10 years of experience in the non-profit sector as programs director and executive director. She regularly coordinates committees, facilitates meetings, and organizes effective gatherings of stakeholders and scientific experts. She is a recognized leader in the field of abandoned, lost and discarded fishing gear and is regularly called on for consultation from practitioners worldwide as well as Intergovernmental Organizations (FAO, IWC).
Joan has managed on-the-ground nearshore restoration projects as well as developed and directed strategic restoration programs. She has developed invasive species management plans, organizational strategic plans and communications plans. She has extensive grant acquisition and development experience. Prior to joining NRC, Joan was Programs Director (and Interim Director) for the Northwest Straits Marine Conservation Foundation, where she managed the Northwest Straits Initiative’s internationally recognized Derelict Fishing Gear Program. Joan has worked extensively throughout the Salish Sea region on marine conservation policy and on-the-ground and in-the-water projects. She brings strong communications and development skills to all her projects and is deft at communicating scientific information to lay audiences both in writing and speaking.
You can reach Joan at email@example.com.
Eelgrass populations along the U.S. West Coast are genetically unique; therefore, conservation and restoration of these habitats should be guided by information gained from these populations.This Spring, the Pacific Marine and Estuarine Fish Habitat Partnership (PMEP) completed a year-long effort to compile existing knowledge of eelgrass habitats along the U.S. West Coast. This report was commissioned by The Nature Conservancy to provide a synthesis of the state of scientific knowledge of U.S. West Coast estuary eelgrass habitats and the ecosystem services they provide. PMEP synthesized the literature relevant for the U.S. West Coast and standardized existing geospatial data on the current and historic extent of eelgrass for Zostera spp. PMEP investigated the role of 444 U.S. West Coast estuaries in providing eelgrass habitat and compiled its findings in a geodatabase.
This report synthesizes information on:
1) Presence and extent of eelgrass along the U.S. West Coast,
2) Ecosystem services provided by eelgrass habitats,
3) Important and emerging threats to eelgrass habitats in U.S. West Coast estuaries,
4) Knowledge and data gaps, and
5) Management strategies to conserve and restore eelgrass habitats and their ecosystem functions along the U.S. West Coast.
PMEP would like to thank the many experts and stakeholders who provided data and information, participated in webinars and surveys, or reviewed a draft of this report. Their contributions ensure that this summary of the present state of scientific knowledge of ecosystem services and extent of eelgrass habitats in Washington, Oregon, and California will be an essential tool for use in estuarine restoration and conservation projects to sustain healthy fish and invertebrate populations.
View full report — Eelgrass Habitats on the U.S. West Coast: State of the Knowledge of Eelgrass Ecosystem Services and Eelgrass Extent.
View spatial data here.
View short synopsis of report content.
PMEP, with funding support from The Nature Conservancy, will be releasing a report on the state of the knowledge of eelgrass habitats along the West Coast later this Spring. The report synthesizes the state of scientific knowledge of U.S. West Coast estuary eelgrass habitats and the ecosystem services they provide. PMEP held a webinar on January 31st to give a preview of the findings in the report. The webinar slides can be viewed here – Jan 31 Presentation on West Coast Eelgrass.
We investigated the role of 444 U.S. West Coast estuaries in providing eelgrass habitat. PMEP synthesized the literature relevant for the West Coast and standardized existing geospatial data on the current and historic extent of eelgrass for Zostera spp. In addition to the report, PMEP will be introducing a geodatabase that contains information on eelgrass in estuaries along the coast.
Check our website later this spring for the report and data.
In 2017, PMEP helped fund a living shorelines project in Upper Newport Bay, CA. Our funding helped to integrate native Olympia oyster habitat restoration into a larger multi-species restoration project. The overall goals of this project are to return historically present (but currently depleted) species to the area, enhance habitat quality and connectivity for fish and wildlife, improve water quality, control erosion, and help adapt to sea level rise. The project was just recognized as one of seven national “Waters to Watch” projects for 2017 by the National Fish Habitat Partnership (NFHP). These voluntary, locally-driven projects represent some of the top conservation activities supported by regional Fish Habitat Partnerships throughout the country. These “Waters to Watch” are proving that science-based on-the-ground conservation efforts are truly making a difference in improving fish habitat across the United States.
NOAA is providing $55,000 to PMEP to map estuarine habitats and habitat loss along the Oregon Coast and to fill critical eelgrass habitat data gaps along the West Coast. In 2017, NOAA provided a total of over $100,000 across four Fish Habitat Partnerships to support prioritization, monitoring, and data analysis projects. These projects support the goals of the National Fish Habitat Action Plan and align with NOAA’s efforts to protect, restore, and promote stewardship of coastal and marine habitat to support our nation’s fisheries for future generations.
PMEP will conduct a pilot project to assess tidal wetland loss by habitat class (emergent, scrub-shrub, and forested classes) on the Oregon coast, south of the Columbia River. This collaborative project will entail compiling existing spatial data on historical estuarine habitat classes for Oregon coastal wetlands, including data previously digitized from General Land Office (GLO) maps. The historical tidal habitat data will then be analyzed in comparison to current habitat mapping datasets previously created by PMEP and the Oregon Coastal Management Program to quantify habitat loss by habitat type for each estuary assessed. Laura Brophy from the Institute for Applied Ecology and staff from the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission have already begun working on this important assessment.