OLYMPIA – A new website recently launched by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) offers information on Puget Sound’s marine protected areas (MPA), underwater and intertidal sanctuaries created to protect marine aquatic species and habitats.
The website, which can be viewed at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/mpa/puget_sound/index.htm, includes maps, photos and descriptions of each MPA in Puget Sound, as well as information on WDFW’s management of MPAs.
Currently in Puget Sound, WDFW has designated 26 MPAs, specific sites where fishing is either restricted or prohibited. These areas – designated as conservation areas, marine preserves or exclusion zones – are established to protect aquatic species and important habitats, as well as provide recreational and educational opportunities.
“These protected areas preserve marine organisms and the vital habitats that support them and provide a research opportunity,” said Mary Lou Mills, marine ecosystems program manager for WDFW. “They help us better understand fish and shellfish populations and can give us information about the recovery of sensitive species.”
The MPAs were designated by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission at the recommendation of WDFW biologists.
Information on MPA locations also is available in WDFW's 2006/2007 Fishing in Washington pamphlet (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations), and on WDFW’s commercial fishing regulations website (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/commregs/salregs.htm).
Information on land-based wildlife viewing areas is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/viewing/wildview.htm.