WDFW’s killer whale policy lead elected to chair Puget Sound Partnership’s Ecosystem Coordination Board

This fall, the Puget Sound Partnership’s Ecosystem Coordination Board, which helps to advance efforts to support Puget Sound recovery, elected WDFW’s killer whale policy lead, Dr. Julie Watson, as its new chair. The appointment marks the board’s first female chair.

“We face seemingly impossible challenges, but ECB’s unique positioning and composition privileges us with a precious opportunity to cultivate change,” said Watson. “In my time working with the ECB, I’ve seen the great potential of this board to engage on pressing policy issues to build consensus and generate solutions, and I want to see us continue to grow that role.”

Julie joined WDFW in 2016 and was the Puget Sound Recovery Lead prior to becoming the Department’s Killer Whale Policy Lead in 2019. Over the past two years, Julie led the development and implementation of WDFW’s commercial whale watching licensing program and rules regarding commercial viewing of Southern Resident Killer Whales. Julie is also serving as a co-chair for the next Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference, which will be held virtually April 26–28, 2022.

The 27-member board advises the Puget Sound Partnership leadership council and executive director on major strategic and implementation decisions to support Puget Sound restoration and protection, focusing on implementation of the 2018–2022 Action Agenda and development of the 2022–2026 Action Agenda. It also helps to support implementation of the Governor’s Southern Resident Orca Task Force recommendations, broad participation and partnerships, and long-term support for Puget Sound recovery.

“We’re excited that Julie will bring her extensive knowledge and leadership experience in the Puget Sound recovery community to her position as chair of the Ecosystem Coordination Board,” said Laura Blackmore, executive director of the Puget Sound Partnership. “Julie’s ability to bring partners together and drive toward outcomes will help achieve the Ecosystem Coordination Board’s priorities and contribute greatly to our work.”

The board includes representatives from the business community, environmental partners, port districts, as well as state, federal and tribal governments.

A partner in Puget Sound recovery

WDFW works to restore, conserve, and protect habitat throughout the Puget Sound nearshore ecosystem through a variety of programs and partnerships. From leading projects on WDFW lands to providing incentives for shoreline landowners, WDFW provides technical expertise, project assistance, and funding opportunities to support and restore Puget Sound nearshore and estuarine habitats. Learn more at wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/habitat-recovery/puget-sound.

Julie’s appointment follows San Juan County Council Member Jamie Stephens, who served as board chair from 2020–2021. For more information about the Ecosystem Coordination Board, including upcoming meetings, visit: psp.wa.gov/EB_about.php.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is dedicated to preserving, protecting and perpetuating the state’s fish and wildlife resources.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is dedicated to preserving, protecting and perpetuating the state’s fish and wildlife resources.