State of the Salish Sea Report

About the Report

panoramic view of mountains, oceans, and trees with words "State of the Salish Sea"

A publication of the Salish Sea Institute at Western Washington University, the State of the Salish Sea Report (2021) synthesizes information on past, current, and emerging stressors within the Salish Sea estuarine ecosystem.

The Salish Sea is a complex waterbody shared by Coast Salish Tribes and First Nations, Canada, and the United States. It is defined by multiple freshwater inputs and marine water from the Pacific Ocean that mix in two primary basins, Puget Sound and the Strait of Georgia. Human impacts are multifaceted and extensive within the Salish Sea, with a regional population of almost 9 million people. Population growth has driven urbanization and development, which in turn has triggered structural changes to the landscape and seascape. Meanwhile, the growing effects of climate change are fundamentally altering physical and biological processes.

The report describes the most pervasive and damaging impacts affecting the transboundary ecosystem, recognizing that some are generated locally while others are the locally realized impacts from global-scale changes in climate, oceans, land use, and biodiversity. The Salish Sea is under relentless pressure from an accelerating convergence of global and local environmental stressors and the cumulative impacts of 150 years of development and alteration of our watersheds and seascape. Some of these impacts are well understood but many remain unknown or are difficult to predict. While strong science is critical to understanding the ecosystem, the report provides a spectrum of ideas and opportunities for how governments, organizations, and individuals can work together to meet the needs of science and science-driven management that will sustain the Salish Sea estuarine ecosystem.

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