The Mussel Watch Program is a nation-wide water-quality monitoring program run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Since 1986, it has been crucial in helping scientists and the public learn about the presence and extent of toxic contaminants in the nation’s oceans and bays. In Washington, monitoring of Puget Sound is administered by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
Sampling occurs every two years to ensure that the levels of contaminants in Puget Sound are low enough to ensure its waters are still safe for marine life, recreation, fishing, and shellfish harvesting. Recently, the Mussel Watch program has received budget cuts on the state and national level.
In order to adjust, as well as to tap into local knowledge of monitored areas, WDFW has reached out to municipalities, counties, tribes, and environmental organizations. This new outreach has been called the Mussel Watch Pilot Expansion. The success of this program will determine whether the Mussel Watch can continue or if we risk losing one of the nation’s greatest scientific achievements.