Sensitive eelgrass habitats are nurseries for juvenile Chinook salmon as well as spawning areas for Pacific herring – small schooling fish that support seabirds, big fish, and marine mammals. Eelgrass damaged by boat anchors can take years to recover. To help salmon and the endangered Southern Resident orcas, avoid herring spawning grounds, anchor out in waters deeper than the eelgrass, or use a mooring buoy when staying outside a marina. While eelgrass is present at most popular anchorages in the San Juans, in many locations the shallow meadows can be easily avoided by anchoring in waters deeper than 15 feet.
Boaters can help protect marine mammals by keeping your distance, reducing speeds, and turning off fish finders and echo sounders when not in use. Do your part to keep marine waters clean by using pump outs, making sure your boat is in good working order, and quickly cleaning even small spills. Stay up to date with local regulations around marine mammals at bewhalewise.org.
Use the detailed information found in this boater guide to plan ahead and ensure your boating experience in the San Juan Islands is safe and enjoyable for people and nature!
Thank you to the Burning Foundation, WA State Salmon Recovery Funding Board, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Friends of the San Juans members for support of this program.
Download this map for site specific eelgrass depth information and keep a copy on your boat! Contact us for a printed version of the brochure at [email protected].
herring spawn habitat restoration and protection program
Funding and technical support is available to help interested public and private waterfront property owners improve herring spawning habitat in the San Juans. Please contact Friends’ Science Director, Tina Whitman, at [email protected] or 360-298-7616 if you are interested in information on the following voluntary actions:
- Evaluating, upgrading or relocating outdated mooring buoys to reduce impacts to eelgrass (click here to learn more about a buoy upgrade cost share program for priority herring and eelgrass areas),
- Protecting privately owned tideland habitats with voluntary conservation easements,
- Installing new public buoys to reduce anchoring in herring spawning grounds, and
- Removing other stressors or marine/beach debris from herring spawning habitats (derelict docks, floats, creosote,etc.).
pledge to protect southern resident orcas – give them space!
You can help reduce the noise and disturbance around the critically endangered Southern Resident orcas – take the pledge to voluntarily stay one-half nautical mile (1,000 yards) away from Southern Residents. These orcas need maximum space to forage, rest, and rear their young.
Help us get the word out by encouraging commercial operators and recreational boaters to take the pledge and Give Them Space!
- Friends of the San Juans 2020 Green Boater Guide
- Anchor out of Eelgrass Map for the San Juans
- Learn about the Voluntary No-Go Zone for Southern Resident Orcas on the West Side of San Juan Island
- Need a Whale Warning Flag for your boat? Click here!
- Sailors for the Sea Green Boating Guide
- Georgia Strait Alliance Guide to Green Boating
- Washington State Parks Boating Program
- Jefferson County MRC Anchor Out Program
- Pumpout Nav App – a free iOS and Android mobile app that shows you where the nearest sewage pumpout, dump station and floating restrooms are located.
- U.S. Coast Guard Mobile App (boater safety resources)
- WhaleReport Alert System – an alert system that broadcasts pertinent details of whale presence to large commercial vessels.
photo by: Mark Gardner