In 2018, the Washington State Legislature passed the Strengthening Oil Spill Transportation Safety Act (SB 6269), requiring the Department of Ecology Spills Program to take a variety of new steps to promote the safety of marine transportation and protect the greater Puget Sound from oil spills. One of the Act’s requirements was for Ecology to coordinate with British Columbia, Canada to establish the Salish Sea Shared Waters Forum to “address common issues in the cross-boundary waterways between Washington state and British Columbia”.
The Forum was a platform for open dialogue for all levels of government from both sides of the border, Tribes and First Nations, environmental groups, and industry, and was a non-voting and non-decision-making entity.
Veda was hired to plan, organize and facilitate three annual Forums beginning in 2018. This included seeking participation from WA state and British Columbia stakeholders (state, provincial and federal entities, regulated entities, environmental organizations, tribes and First Nations), facilitating a planning team to develop the agendas, recruiting and organizing speakers, selecting venues, and a myriad of other tasks to ensure a successful event each year.
The 2018 and 2019 Forums were held in Bellingham WA and attracted approx. 150 participants each year. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Veda was able to successfully pivot to a virtual Forum (with the help of WWU Conference Services) with over 250 participants joining remotely.
The three Forums gave a voice to many diverse entities to share their information, best practices, challenges and efforts to protect the Salish Sea from oil spills.
The Forums allowed for a better understanding of the problems at hand and helped with finding common solutions to avoid risks of oil spills. Relationships were built and will continue in ongoing dialogues to ensure transboundary coordination and communication regarding oil spill prevention, preparedness and response in the Salish Sea.
CLIENT SHOUT OUT:
WA State Department of Ecology is proud to protect, preserve, and enhance Washington's environment for current and future generations.