Marine Resourcse Committees – or MRCs – are county-based committees that carry out local projects and activities and advise the county on issues pertaining to marine resources. MRCs are created and defined by county resolution or ordinance. Counties determine operational procedures and appoint committee members. MRCs are required by statute to be broadly representative, but counties have the ability to further specify membership or committee focus according to the needs of the county, its citizenry, and marine resources.
This structure was first developed through the Northwest Straits Initiative in 1998. This federally-funded program supports MRCs in the seven northern Puget Sound counties and has become a national example of effective regional collaboration and citizen involvement in marine resources protection, management, and restoration.
In their 2007 and 2008 legislative sessions, the Washington State Legislature endorsed the MRC approach to local marine resources management and stewardship in the five southern Puget Sound counties and five coastal counties. Click here for statutory language in the Revised Code of Washington. A new program was created within Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to provide support for the development, administration, and coordination of coastal MRCs and MRC-sponsored projects that benefit coastal marine resources.
Coastal counties – Clallam, Jefferson, Grays Harbor, Pacific, and Wahkiakum – and their citizens were invited to explore this opportunity to create non-regulatory mechanism for communities to discuss and develop solutions for issues facing coastal resources and communities. All of the five coastal counties have established MRCs, and have completed a number of projects, as detailed on the individual MRC pages.
As guided by the Washington Ocean Action Plan, MRC activity will improve scientific knowledge, public understanding, protection and restoration, and management of marine habitats and species and compliment ongoing efforts to preserve and enhance coastal and ocean resources.
For more background and a comprehensive overview of the Coastal MRC Program, click here for the 2012 Report to the Legislature