Northwest Straits Marine Conservation Initiative

In 1998, Congress authorized the Northwest Straits Marine Conservation Initiative (NWSI) to restore and protect the marine resources—the marine waters, habitats and species—of the Northwest Straits region and to achieve ecosystem health and sustainable resource use. Key to the Initiative is the combination of sound science with grassroots consensus building.  

Marine Resources Committees

Seven county Marine Resource Committees (MRCs) were established under the Initiative:  Clallam, Island, Jefferson, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish and Whatcom counties.  They are citizen advisory committees appointed by local elected officials to identify local priorities and implement actions for marine resources restoration and protection.  MRC members represent diverse interest groups who provide a wealth of knowledge and local insight to marine resources issues. 

Northwest Straits Commission

The Northwest Straits Commission (NWSC) serves as a “board of directors” for the NWSI. The Commission is comprised of five gubernatorial appointees, one tribal appointee, and a representative from each of the seven county MRCs. The Commission meets monthly and provides regional oversight to the county MRCs, ensuring they have the tools, resources, science-based technical guidance, training, and financial support needed to carry out their mission. In addition to providing support to the MRCs, the NWSC identifies and performs high priority projects on a regional scale.

Northwest Straits Foundation

The Northwest Straits Foundation (NWSF) serves as the non-profit extension of the Initiative, working with the county MRCs to identify and pursue funding opportunities to implement priority projects. In addition, the Foundation administers the Skagit Restoration Initiative (SRI) funds, overseen by the SMRC. These funds are part of the Natural Resources Damages Settlement payment from Kimberly-Clark for the former Scott Paper Mill Site in Anacortes.

Performance Benchmarks

The MRC’s, the NWSC, and the NWSF, all carry out work measured by the same performance benchmarks to ensure consistancy with the Initiative’s goals:

  • Marine Habitats

    Protect and restore marine, coastal and nearshore habitats, prevent loss and achieve a net gain of healthy habitat.

  • Marine Life

    Protect and restore marine populations to healthy sustainable levels.

  • Marine Water Quality

    Protect marine water quality of the Northwest Straits region, and restore the health of marine waters.

  • Sound Science

    Collect high quality data and promote its use and dissemination.

  • Education & Outreach

    Promote stewardship and understanding of Northwest Straits' marine resources through education and outreach.


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