Management plans approved for Mystery, South Port Townsend bays

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT TOWNSEND — The Jefferson County commissioners have approved management plans to decrease traffic and accommodate shellfish harvesting in Mystery Bay and South Port Townsend Bay.

The two plans, both approved Monday, control boat moorings and accommodate people harvesting shellfish for both commercial and personal ventures.

“We want to protect shellfish harvesting and decrease congestion through the issuance of moorage permits,” said Assistant Department of Community Development Director Stacie Hoskins.

“And when people come in for a moorage permit, they will see a streamlined process.”

Hoskins said the county will work with both the state Department of Natural Resources and the Jefferson County Board of Health in awarding the permits.

Buoys in a “no anchor zone” around known shellfish beds are part of both plans.

The Mystery Bay plan, which has been in effect since 2010, was recognized last month with an award from the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators that lauded its ability to accommodate several different functions in a single aquatic area.

These elements included permitting boat moorage, removal of unpermitted buoys, exceptions for local residents, management of transient boaters, establishing an ongoing monitoring plan and modifying the process to adapt to changing conditions.

Twenty local entities, including the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners, three tribes, several local businesses and the Army Corps of Engineers, worked together to develop the plan.

While the Mystery Bay plan has been in operation for two years, it was formally approved Monday.

“When we were developing the plan, the economy wasn’t doing very well, so we weren’t able to finalize everything,” Hoskins said.

“But all the parties had signed the [plan’s] memorandum of understanding, so we were able to proceed.”

The South Port Townsend Bay Plan contains those elements, most significantly a stricter control over mooring buoys.

“The big issue has been the capacity for boats,” said Hoskins of the Mystery Bay plan.

“We want to make sure that all boats are legally located.”

The South Port Townsend Bay includes the Port Hadlock area, which contains the Wooden Boat School and the Port Hadlock Marina.

One aspect of the plan is an emergency registry for all moored boats so if there is an accident, crews know who to call.

“We are creating a network for emergency communication,” Hoskins said.

“If a boat gets loose, it’s hard to tell who owns it,” Hoskins said.

“If the ownership information is posted on the boat, this way, we’ll know who owns it.

“As it stands, the person who saves the boat could be responsible for the boat and any damage.”

Hoskins said implementation of the plan will be transparent to most people using the waterways.

“People aren’t going to see any change,” she said.

“The difference is how we are going to deal with all the permit issues.”

For more information, check with the county community development office at 360-379-4450.

Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at

Last modified: October 03. 2012 5:52PM
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