Washington state’s newest shellfish hatchery – and the federal government’s only such hatchery in the region – has been named after longtime University of Washington faculty member Ken Chew, a professor emeritus of aquatic and fishery sciences.
The Kenneth K. Chew Center for Shellfish Research and Restoration is housed at the Manchester Research Station operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration near Port Orchard. Its opening coincides with a new 10-year plan to rebuild populations of native Olympia oysters in Puget Sound.
The new hatchery significantly expands the capabilities in the Pacific Northwest to restore native shellfish populations, improve habitat, increase water quality, advance practices of the aquaculture industry and minimize impacts of ocean acidification, according to a NOAA press release. It will be staffed and operated jointly by NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center and the Puget Sound Restoration Fund, a Washington nonprofit.
Along with the Olympia oyster, Chew said that pinto abalone and rock scallops are other native species of concern.
It was in the early ’70s that Chew took the UW’s fledgling shellfish program and grew it into what for years was the largest program of its kind on the West Coast. UW graduates from the program hold commercial, non-profit and government positions worldwide.
Early on Chew approached the managers of the Manchester facility – where research mainly concerned fish aquaculture and ecosystem sciences – about allowing him to conduct his shellfish research, specifically on oysters, there.
“I ‘conned’ them into letting me use their piping and water system,” Chew said. After getting established he had numerous undergrad and graduate students studying and working there under his research programs.
Chew has “helped to develop the shellfish industry nationwide,” said the document naming the facility after him, signed by administrators at the highest levels of NOAA. “His life’s work has advanced NOAA Fisheries’ ability to restore depleted species, support robust and viable coastal communities and industries, and restore native habitats. As an example of his impact, the goals of NOAA’s National Shellfish Initiative were made possible by his extensive body of work.”