Go Inslee!!!



Sand Lance and Surf Smelt (Forage Fish) Eggs


Governor Inslee signs Forage Fish Bill (SB5166)!

This bill directs WDFW to conduct extensive forage fish spawning surveys throughout Puget Sound over the next two years and will provide significant benefit for improving habitat protections.

Proposed by Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, the bill requires the state Department of Fish & Wildlife and state Department of Natural Resources to team up on an ambitious survey of forage fish spawning areas and a mid-water trawl survey at various depths throughout the sound. The survey results will help Fish and Wildlife develop conservation strategies for small fish populations that appear to be declining.

“The population of forage fish is really important to the recovery of Puget Sound,” Rolfes said. “But we really don’t now how precarious their population is right now.”

The spawning survey will be carried out along shorelines with the assistance of volunteers and military veterans employed by the Washington Conservation Corps.



By Senators Rolfes, Ranker, and Hasegawa

Read first time 01/15/15. Referred to Committee on Natural Resources & Parks.

AN ACT Relating to the management of forage fish resources; amending RCW 77.32.010; and creating new sections. (See new sections below)

NEW SECTION.  Sec. 2.  The departments of natural resources and fish and wildlife must collaborate to conduct a survey of the location of surf smelt and sand lance spawning grounds throughout Puget Sound, including the Strait of Juan de Fuca. To the extent available, the departments of natural resources and fish and wildlife must conduct the surveys using crews of the veterans conservation corps created under RCW 43.60A.150. Results from this survey must be used by the departments of natural resources and fish and wildlife to expand knowledge of spawning habitat areas. The survey results must be made accessible to the public.

NEW SECTION.  Sec. 3.  The department of fish and wildlife must conduct a mid-water trawl survey at various depths throughout Puget Sound to evaluate the prevalence of adults of all species of forage fish. The department must integrate the results of the survey into existing Puget Sound ecosystem assessments to assist the department of fish and wildlife in the management and conservation of forage fish species and the species that prey upon them.

The department of fish and wildlife must complete the survey by June 30, 2017.

For more information please visit:




Intertidal Forage Fish Training with WDFW, Its an Egg Hunt!


Phillip Dionne pictured in blue holding the plastic bag

We were lucky enough to have Phillip Dionne from WDFW join us at the Natural Resource Department. He gave a presentation about forage fish and there critical habitat along the shores of Puget Sound. Forage fish lay their eggs in the sand-gravel beach zone as well as the outer tide flats. A substantial amount of forage fish spawning habitat has been lost or destroyed by the high impact of shoreline usage and development in Puget Sound. As you can see below the shoreline is armored and because of the location forage fish spawn it makes them vulnerable to shoreline development and other human actions.


Example of shoreline armoring and example of forage fish spawning habitat survey

The need for public education about forage fish and their ecological role is constant to maintain a well-informed community. Many people are unaware of just how many species utilize the shoreline; forage fish being a few of them. The term “forage fish” can be broadly applied to many species that are, in many cases, related through ecology and not phylogeny. Pacific herring Clupea pallasii, Northern anchovy Engraulis mordax, Pacific sardine Sardinops sagax, Surf Hypomesus pretiosus, Longfin Spirinchus thaleichthys, Pacific sand lance Ammodytes hexapterus, and Rock sole Pleuronectes bilineatus are just a few species that use the shorelines. For a map of spawning activity please visit, http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/research/projects/marine beach spawning/


Natural Resource Crew watches as Phillip Dionne demonstrates, “The Vortex Method”

IMG_2180 IMG_2177 Phillip Dionne (WDFW) giving a demonstration on laboratory procedures for recovering forage fish eggs