Working Toward Healthy Ocean Ecosystems: Report From The 2022 State Legislative Session

An old piling for a pier sticking out of the water during sunset with the city of Seattle skyline in the background.

Signing in “pro” on key environmental bills, delivering virtual testimony, sharing opportunities to take action with the Washington community, and collaborating with legislators as well as partners across the state—the Seattle Aquarium spent the 60-day state legislative session working hard to advance ocean health priorities. And many of you joined us in speaking up! Read on for highlights from the session and a preview of future efforts.

Session Highlights

Progress on healthy kelp forest and eelgrass ecosystems

With the passage of SB 5619, the Washington Department of Natural Resources will now develop a plan to protect and restore at least 10,000 acres of kelp forests and eelgrass meadows by 2040. We testified in support of this bill, which will restore important habitat for all kinds of species in our coastal waters.

Supporting salmon habitat

We’re grateful to the state legislature for including $25 million in funding for the Duckabush River Estuary Restoration Project in the budget this year. Going forward, we'll continue to support efforts to secure the additional state and federal funding needed to restore this vital estuary, which is prime habitat for threatened summer chum and Chinook salmon.

The legislature also passed a bill that ensures adequate funding for removing derelict vessels from local waters (HB 1700). Those vessels can present environmental risks, such as leaking fuel or other hazardous substances or damaging forage fish habitat.

Advancing climate action

Alongside crafting a regenerative plan for our own operations and facility, the Seattle Aquarium continued to support bills to address climate change. These included energy performance standards for large buildings (SB 5722) and ensuring that businesses in the fossil fuel industry are financially responsible for oil spills should they occur (HB 1691).

The Road Ahead

While we were able to make strides on several ocean health priorities, there’s still work to do. The short legislative session made it especially difficult to get some key transformative bills across the finish line.

The Seattle Aquarium will continue to work with our partners toward healthy marine shorelines and producer-responsibility legislation for plastics and other packaging (RENEW Act). We'll continue to support Indigenous–led efforts to secure protections for riparian habitat along rivers and streams (Lorraine Loomis Salmon Recovery Act). Thank you to Senators Das, Salomon and Rolfes and Representative Lekanoff for your leadership on these pieces of legislation.

In the next legislative session, we’ll also continue to support measures to report embodied carbon emissions in infrastructure projects (Buy Clean and Buy Fair) and to enable small businesses to repair electronics, like cell phones, so they don’t go to the landfill (Right to Repair).

In the meantime, we’ll continue to advocate for national policy priorities—including healthy kelp ecosystems and 30x30 conservation action. Visit our Ocean Policy and Advocacy and Take Action web pages anytime for the latest news and action opportunities. 

Thank you!

We want to send a huge thank-you to everyone who took part in our action alerts and spoke up for ocean health! If you didn’t receive action alerts, please consider joining our policy email list.

Read blog posts from the state legislative session:

Speaking up for ocean health: 2022 priorities in the Washington legislature

A renewed look at all that packaging

Four policies to help salmon in Washington

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