Port Gamble Bay Restoration Project

The Port Gamble Bay Restoration Project is a multi-year, multi-dimensional project. Historical uses and current development pressures have impacted the health of the bay and the ability to harvest environmentally, economically, and culturally important shellfish. Beginning in 2011, this project has involved tribal and community members in producing native species (cockles, oysters, and bull kelp) in order to revive access to marine resources and provide job-training. PSRF’s long-term vision is to operate both a shellfish restoration hatchery and a demonstration shellfish farm in Port Gamble to produce native shellfish species for restoration, sustainable aquaculture and ecosystem recovery.

Project Objectives

  1. Address sources of polluted runoff within the watershed
  2. Launch community shellfish gardens to grow and harvest clams and oysters
  3. Produce native shellfish species to restore cultural resources and recover habitat and ecosystem services
  4. Organize engaging activities to re-connect the community to healthy marine resources and build long-term support for pollution control.
  5. Conduct a pilot project to restore kelp beds and increase herring spawning in the bay
  6. Document the project through video to educate and involve the broader community

This project is designed to actively engage all parties in resource recovery in order to lay the groundwork for effective, long-term stewardship.  In the case of Port Gamble Bay, development and resource protection don’t have to be mutually exclusive. With proactive community outreach and education, strong local government programs, political leadership, it is possible to hold onto healthy resources and approved shellfish growing areas within a developing watershed.

  • The Russell Family Foundation
  • Baywater, Inc.
  • Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe
  • Olympic Property Group
  • Suquamish Tribe
  • Still Hope Productions
  • Taylor Shellfish Farms
  • Kitsap Health District
  • Plauche & Stock

Resources within Port Gamble Bay and its watersheds have attracted tribal people, settlers, industries, and developers for centuries.  Port Gamble Bay is an abundant shellfish, crab, and finfish harvest area, containing approximately 28% of the approved commercial harvest area within Kitsap County. But historic and current uses of the bay and watershed – including the former saw mill, the town of Port Gamble, the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribal reservation and other developments – have taken their toll. The north shore is prohibited to shellfish harvest due to a sewage treatment plant outfall. The western shore has been closed to shellfish harvesting since 1993 due to contaminants from the former mill.  The head of the bay is an unclassified shellfish harvest area due to polluted runoff.  And species once abundant within the bay are now sparsely present or no longer available including native oysters and bull kelp, which used to support a tribal herring roe fishery within the bay.

For the tribe, Port Gamble is not just a bay; it’s the tribe’s ancestral village, and gathering goods in the bay is very important to tribal identity. For the community, resources are also an important part of the local characters. People who eat locally gathered shellfish and have opportunities to stay connect to marine resources are more likely to go the extra mile to reduce pollution from their own properties and support local government programs.  Place-based stewardship is what this program aims to develop.

View Puget Sound Restoration Fund sites in a larger map