The outbreak of sea star wasting syndrome (SSWS) that began in 2013 devastated many species of sea stars along the North American West Coast. While the outbreak has abated, the disease persists. While there are signs of recovery for some species or local populations, there are entire species and regions that have not recovered. This is especially important because many sea stars species are major predators, and ecosystem-level changes have already been observed.
In response to the disease, PISCO scientists and many other researchers have assembled a Sea Star Wasting Task Force. The Task Force has drafted a strategic action plan to identify research and management priorities to address sea star wasting syndrome. They have formed the four working groups below, each of which has outlined research goals and accompanying action items to advance our knowledge of SSWS and promote recovery, where possible. Next steps include inviting stakeholder input to this plan and mobilizing scientists to execute the action items. They are also organizing an upcoming workshop on October 20th in Portland open to researchers, conservation groups, and other stakeholder on marine disease outbreaks.