FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 1, 2010
Mystery Bay shellfish beds to remain open and management plan approved
DNR helps develop collaborative agreement for safety of commercial shellfish beds
OLYMPIA – Commercial shellfish growing along Marrowstone Island in Mystery Bay can continue, thanks to a collaborative agreement among government agencies, tribes, shellfish growers, and local residents on a management plan to keep shellfish beds operating by reducing the number of boats mooring in the area.
The commercial shellfish site in Mystery Bay lies in the northern half of Puget Sound and has long been an important source of revenue in Jefferson County. Shellfish are also important to the bay’s ecological health.
“This plan was developed to ensure a healthy aquatic environment and help keep shellfish sites working,” said Brady Scott, aquatic lands manager for the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR). “This plan will be a way to balance the diverse uses in the bay, while protecting Puget Sound. This plan would not have been possible without the unprecedented involvement of numerous stakeholders.”
The Washington State Department of Health had been considering limiting or prohibiting commercial shellfish operations in the area because the number and location of unauthorized boats and mooring buoys in the bay exceeded national safety standards for a commercial shellfish growing area. The National Shellfish Sanitation Program (NSSP) standards are designed to prevent contamination of shellfish that could harm human health. An excessive number of boats mooring in an area can produce enough sewage or other discharge to contaminate shellfish.
As the steward and lease managers of state-owned aquatic lands, including portions of the commercial shellfish beds in Mystery Bay, DNR began meeting with stakeholders in 2008 to find a workable and sustainable solution to keep the shellfish site open after concerns were raised by the state Department of Health. The result is the Mystery Bay Management Plan that will work to help resolve multiple use conflicts within the bay. The plan outlines the following elements:
- Permitting and managing future boat moorage to ensure that commercial shellfish beds do not have to be closed.
- Removal of buoys that do not have permits from Jefferson County and are unauthorized by DNR.
- Providing a method of exempting the boats (and mooring buoy) owned by shoreline property owners toward the NSSP threshold level for marinas.
- Manage transient boaters through a voluntary "No Anchor Zone" and developing information that directs transient boaters to dock or moor in Mystery Bay State Park.
- Establish a long-term boat monitoring plan to assure that the numbers and densities of boats do not exceed the marina threshold.
- Develop adaptive management strategies to address changes in the bay and its usage as they occur.
DNR-Steward of state aquatic lands
As steward of the 2.6 million acres of state aquatic lands, DNR manages the bedlands under Puget Sound and the coast, many of Washington’s beaches, and natural lakes and navigable rivers. DNR manages these lands not only to facilitate navigation, commerce, and public access, but also to ensure protection of aquatic habitat. State-owned aquatic lands include:
- About 68,100 acres of state-owned tidelands, or 106 square miles
- 90,000 acres of harbor areas
- All submerged marine lands below extreme low tide—that’s 3,430 square miles of bedlands under navigable waters, as well as freshwater shorelands and bedlands
Peter Goldmark, who administers the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, is Washington’s 13th Commissioner of Public Lands since statehood in 1889.
Media Contact: Abbey Corzine, Communications Coordinator, 360-902-1401, firstname.lastname@example.org
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