Navigating the Regulatory Barriers to Native Oyster Restoration in Washington State: A Decision Analysis Approach
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The Olympia oyster (Ostrea lurida) has been the focus of restoration efforts in Washington State for decades. Many biological and ecological factors contribute to the success of oyster restoration projects, and there is a wide range of information available to restoration project managers who want to take these factors into consideration when planning new restoration sites. However, less information exists on the regulatory factors which contribute to the early success of Olympia oyster restoration projects. The complex permitting system which surrounds shellfish aquaculture in Washington places a regulatory burden on oyster restoration projects, and makes it difficult for new projects to begin in an efficient and timely manner. In this thesis, I perform a decision analysis using Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) to determine which of several alternative permitting pathways would best reduce the regulatory burden on Olympia oyster restoration projects. The goal of this analysis is to provide basic permitting strategy recommendations for county-level restoration groups and a model with which they can quantitatively examine criteria and alternatives related to permitting pathways for shellfish aquaculture in Washington. Using this decision analysis method, I found that strategies such as partnering with previously-permitted shellfish aquaculture sites and requesting permit exemptions can reduce the regulatory burden on oyster restoration projects by minimizing the number of permits required, the time required for permits to be approved, and the costs associated with lengthy and complex permitting processes.
- Marine affairs