Coastal Marine Resources Committees Program: 2023 Report to the Legislature



The goal of the Coastal Marine Resources Committees Program is to understand, steward, and restore the marine and estuarine ecological processes of the Washington coast in support of the ecosystem health, sustainable marine resource-based livelihoods, cultural integrity, and coastal communities.


Washington’s coastal and ocean resources provide vital economic, recreation, transportation, and cultural benefits to coastal and state residents. Identifying and implementing realistic, effective, and efficient solutions to the unique conservation and management issues of Washington’s outer coast requires utilizing the available knowledge and creative approaches of coastal citizens and leaders. Citizen-based Marine Resources Committees (MRCs) are an effective mechanism to harness the dedication, innovation, and wisdom of coastal residents.

MRCs are county-based, volunteer committees that carry out local projects and activities and advise counties on marine resource issues. MRCs are composed of representatives from the scientific community, local and tribal governments, local citizens, and economic, recreational, and conservation interests.

The Washington State Legislature endorsed and funded the MRC model in the 2007 and 2008 legislative sessions. As directed by RCW 36.125, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) created the Coastal MRC program. The program provides support for the development, administration, and coordination of the coastal MRCs and their projects. All the coastal counties (Clallam and Jefferson are one MRC, Grays Harbor, Pacific, and Wahkiakum) have created unique MRCs and currently implement community-based projects.

Coastal MRC activities are guided by a set of interim program priorities, benchmarks, and a program goal statement developed by the Coastal MRC workgroup in 2009. These measurements were developed to ensure coordination among MRCs, and to provide accountability to WDFW and the Legislature. The program priorities are to: 1) establish and maintain coastal MRCs, 2) complement existing efforts, 3) build participation, 4) utilize science, and 5) promote healthy communities and resources. The program benchmarks focus on the following broad categories: 1) marine habitats, 2) marine life, 3) marine and freshwater quality, 4) sound science, 5) education, and 6) coastal communities. The following pages summarize each of the MRC activities during 2023 with the respective benchmarks that their activities address.