Drayton Harbor Shellfish Restoration
The Drayton Harbor Shellfish Protection District Citizens Advisory Committee, which began its work to help clean up Drayton Harbor in 1995, now has another year of success under its belt. With hundreds of hours of volunteer time and funding provided by Whatcom County, the City of Blaine, the Marine Resources Committee and the Puget Sound Restoration Fund (PSRF), we hosted another successful oyster feed and open house last June at the Blaine Marina.
Several hundred citizens attended and dined on yearling oysters grown and donated by the Community Oyster Farm. Over 100 people took educational boat tours of the oyster beds, which were given aboard the Plover and the Beast.
Last spring and summer, PSRF provided a series of Drayton tours for more than 40 watershed residents. Participants each received a dozen oysters and pledged to take specific actions to help improve water quality in the harbor.
We also teamed up with Cascadia Consulting Services and many volunteers to conduct a survey of watershed residents. Seventy-one percent of residents felt it was very important to keep the harbor safe for shellfish harvesting.
That’s good news. But most respondents pointed to the sewage treatment plant as the biggest threat to water quality. Actually, the city has made big improvements to minimize impacts from the plant. Our key areas of focus now are septic system maintenance and reducing livestock waste from small farms.
The Puget Sound Restoration Fund’s Community Oyster Farm project is plugging along as well. With our wet-weather sampling program we were able to convince the state department of health to adjust the harvest closure up from ? inch of rainfall in 24 hours to ? inch of rainfall.
This will reduce the number of temporary rainfall-induced harvest closures, which is critical for a viable commercial oyster farm. Since last January, we have had 13, temporary harvest closures prompted by rainfall and associated runoff.
Drayton Harbor is considered unsafe for harvest for almost 20% of the prime harvest season. This is why we are focusing on efforts to reduce bacterial runoff from the upper watershed during the wet season.
The Farmers of the Tideflats planted 50,000 single oysters this past summer and continue to provide yearling oysters to local seafood retailers, restaurants and our dedicated oyster lovers, who buy directly from us on the dock in Blaine. Contact me if you want to be on our email list: email@example.com
We are just now launching a pilot study in parts of the California Creek drainage to help identify whether bacterial waste is coming from humans, horses, or cows. Findings will be used to steer pollution control projects.
This study is being financed by Whatcom County, Trillium and Community Oyster Farm sales. We must continue to nurture community partnerships like this one that are essential for complete water quality and shellfish restoration in Drayton Harbor. Thanks for doing your part.