Types of Aquaculture
‘Aquaculture’ is the culture or farming of fish, shellfish, and other aquatic plants and animals in fresh, brackish, or salt water areas. Practices may include: hatching, seeding or planting, cultivating, feeding, raising, harvesting of planted crops or of natural crops, and processing. For the purposes of this discussion, the term aquaculture includes cultivating and harvesting shellfish on tidelands, cultivating shellfish on floating rafts, and raising finfish in floating net pens.
Net Pens & Floating Shellfish Culture
DNR leases deep water sites for finfish net pens and floating shellfish rafts and longlines. Salmon aquaculture operations have existed in Washington since the 1970s and are scattered throughout Puget Sound. Current net pen leases include salmon aquaculture, delayed-release salmon, and herring. The use of floating shellfish culture began in 1975 with mussel raft culture in Penn Cove. Current floating shellfish culture on rafts or longlines include oysters, mussels, and scallops.
Lease State Aquatic Lands for Aquaculture
Funds for Management, Restoration & Local Access Projects
About half of the revenue generated from aquaculture leases is used for management and protection of state-owned aquatic lands statewide, and half is deposited into the Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account (ALEA). ALEA provides matching funds to help purchase, restore improve, and protect aquatic lands. Matching funds also help build local projects that improve public access to aquatic lands statewide.
Tribal Shellfish Sharing
Treaties signed with western Washington Indian Tribes in 1854 and 1855 reserved the right for tribes to harvest fish and shellfish from all usual and accustomed fishing areas in common with citizens of Washington. In 1994, Judge Edward Rafeedie upheld the right of Treaty Indian tribes, or their successors in interest, to harvest up to fifty percent of the harvestable surplus of shellfish from natural shellfish beds. To implement the ruling, a procedure for notification of tribes about DNR aquaculture leases and potential harvest agreements on state lands was formalized in an implementation plan. See the State and Tribal Sharing of Shellfish website.