FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 27, 2010
State DNR tackles problem boats to clean up Puget Sound
Addressing problem vessels in trespass before they sink saves money
OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is leading efforts to remove dilapidated vessels in trespass, at risk of sinking and contaminating Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Many quiet bays have become parking lots for unauthorized mooring of neglected vessels, many in danger of sinking and polluting. For example, during the past two years alone, five abandoned or derelict vessels were removed from Filucy, Lakebay and Von Geldern Cove (Pierce County) to be destroyed.
DNR’s Derelict Vessel Removal Program and its partners use a sequenced approach to address problems that involve pollution of aquatic habitats, trespass, navigation hazards, and other problems for communities along the Sound. It’s all part of ongoing Puget Sound cleanup.
“I want to thank local communities and Citizens for a Healthy Bay for helping us identify problem vessels before they sink,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark. “Whether these vessels float or sink, most pose a very real risk to navigation. In addition, the neglected and sinking vessels result in contamination of aquatic lands that we are working so hard to clean up and maintain into the future.”
Action on the Sound
On Thursday, DNR and partners worked in four areas of Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca to resolve issues.
- DNR posted a notice on a Bayliner sailboat trespassing in Filucy Bay, off Key Peninsula; the vessel almost sank last winter in the same location and was saved at that time by a ‘pump-off’ by Citizens for a Healthy Bay, a Tacoma-based environmental organization. The owner was asked to remove it but has not complied. If sunk it would be a hazard to navigation and source of marine debris.
- DNR also removed a live-aboard trimaran houseboat in trespass in Von Geldern Cove. It has been trespassing on state aquatic lands for years, without a sanitation system, and falling apart, leaving a trail of Styrofoam and debris breaking away into the local waters. The owner worked collaboratively with DNR to turn over the vessel, which was towed by the Port of Olympia to Olympia for disposal.
- DNR is working with the Coast Guard and Global Diving & Salvage on a 98-year-old, 38-foot wooden fishing vessel that sank Wednesday near Sekiu, with fuel and fish aboard. These partners are addressing fuel removal and preparing the vessel for hauling. DNR has contacted the owner. If the owner does not take responsibility for the vessel, DNR will take possession and haul it out for disposal and bill the owner.
- DNR’s SCUBA diving team—which usually is monitoring the temporarily closed sustainable wild geoduck harvest—was pulled into service to move a 22-foot SeaRay power boat that burned a week ago and became a navigation hazard floating upside down outside the Des Moines Marina breakwater. The boat will be removed to a DNR facility. DNR has been unable to contact the owner.
“Removal and disposal of the five boats from Filucy Bay and Von Geldern Cove in the last two years cost the state $24,234,” said Melissa Ferris, DNR’s Derelict Vessel Removal Program, “If they had sunk before we got them removed, it would likely have cost at least three times that amount. We have billed the owners for these costs, some of which have gone to collections. We’d much rather have the owners step up and take care of their own vessels.”
Most boat owners do maintain and manage their boats. In the same two year period discussed above, the owners of five other vessels in the Key Peninsula area removed their own boats and either addressed the problems or had them destroyed, saving themselves significant money.
Most derelict vessels in our state will be addressed if each owner takes responsibility to license their boat, make sure it’s sea worthy, and moor it in a marina or at a permitted or leased buoy.
DNR’s tools and course of action
DNR works with boat owners, encouraging them to take responsibility for maintaining, licensing and finding appropriate moorage for their boats. DNR posts notices on vessel warning the owner of potential concerns and violations; and requests that they work with DNR and other agencies to comply with the state laws. When all else fails, and the boats are in trespass or in disrepair and in danger of sinking, they can be removed before they sink and pollute the area. Generally, it costs thousands of dollars to tow out and destroy a derelict vessel, but can cost three times that amount to pull up the same submerged boat from the bottom. These costs are charged to the owner.
DNR steward and manager of state-owned aquatic lands
For the people of Washington, DNR is steward of more than 2.6 million acres of aquatic lands—the beaches and the lands under Puget Sound and the coast, navigable lakes and rivers. These mostly submerged lands are managed to protect the fish and wildlife, provide opportunities for commerce and navigation, and access for all the people of the state.
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