FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 14, 2012
DNR took steps to remove boat from Penn Cove
Before Deep Sea caught fire, vessel was not an imminent threat
OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is working closely with the U.S. Coast Guard and the Washington State Department of Ecology to ensure that Sunday’s sinking of the 128-foot vessel in Penn Cove poses as little a threat as possible to the local environment and commercial shellfish operations.
On Saturday, May 12, the Deep Sea caught fire and then sunk the following evening on state-owned aquatic lands, which DNR manages.
Before it caught fire and sank, the Deep Sea was illegally anchored in Penn Cover on Whidbey Island on state-owned aquatic lands. By law, the vessel owner must remove an anchored vessel after 30 days unless he or she has received permission to moor longer. The following timeline describes DNR’s attempts to work with the owner to remove the vessel:
- The vessel had been anchored in Penn Cove since December 2011.
- Beginning January 2012, DNR contacted the vessel’s owner and requested that he remove the boat from Penn Cove.
- January – May: DNR staff contacted the owner nearly two dozen times to find out why the boat was still anchored in Penn Cove.
- In February, the owner claimed he sold the vessel, but the potential buyer told DNR he didn’t follow through on the purchase due to some misinformation about the condition of the boat.
- On March 7, DNR sent an “Unauthorized Use and Occupancy” letter to the owner, which is a formal notice of trespass, letting the owner know that he would be fined for each day the vessel remained in the anchorage.
- On March 13, DNR began billing the owner $83.44 per day.
- As recently as last Wednesday, a DNR law enforcement officer attempted to contact the owner.
To the best of DNR’s knowledge, the boat was under no imminent danger of sinking before the fire took place.
The Department of Ecology and US Coast Guard are the state’s emergency response agencies for pollution threats. DNR manages the Derelict Vessel Removal Program which can step in and remove the vessel if the owner is unable or unwilling to do so. DNR then seeks cost recovery from the owner.
DNR: steward of state-owned aquatic lands
The 2.6 million acres of state-owned aquatic lands (mostly submerged lands) are a public trust, managed and protected by DNR for the people of Washington. DNR manages these lands to protect fish and wildlife and to facilitate commerce, navigation, and public access.
Revenue is generated from the sale of renewable resources such as wild geoduck, as well as from leasing submerged lands for marinas, docks, and other uses. This revenue is used to manage and protect the health and productivity of aquatic resources and to fund local projects that restore aquatic ecosystems and create public access to the waters of the state.
Media Contact: Toni Droscher, Aquatics Program Communications Manager, 360-902-1523, firstname.lastname@example.org
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