Friday, January 5, 2018

Aquaculture coordinator signals new focus on shellfish and seafood industry for WSDA

Hector Castro

Washington has long been known for its oysters, geoducks and other shellfish that make up our state’s aquaculture industry. Now, WSDA is prepared to expand its role in working with the growers and harvesters of these agricultural products.
Laura Butler, WSDA aquaculture coordinator

In November, WSDA announced the creation of a new position at the agency, an aquaculture coordinator, to be filled by former Policy Advisor Laura Butler, who has a background in agricultural sciences and experience working in public policy.

The initial scope of work for this position will include:

  • Conducting introductory and outreach meetings with growers to understand their challenges.  
  • Providing outreach, education and technical assistance to local governments to learn about their processes and help them better understand the needs of the aquaculture industry.
  • Facilitating interagency coordination to streamline regulatory processes and identify areas where rules or regulations are redundant.  

WSDA’s aquaculture coordinator will also be a liaison to the Governor’s Office, other state agencies and external partners. In addition, this position is expected to coordinate efforts within the Washington Shellfish Initiative and co-chair the Department of Ecology’s Interagency Permitting Team.

Fish and seafood are among Washington's top exports, with $1.1 billion worth of product shipped to markets in Canada, Japan, China and other countries.

Thanks to the efforts of the aquaculture industry during the 2017 legislative session, the first year of the coordinator position is fully funded.