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King County Sheriff's Office
CONTACT:  Deputy Charlie Akers
Room W-116, King County Courthouse
516 Third Avenue, Seattle, Washington 98104

 

(206) 423-0160 C
(206) 296-7528 O

Date : 04/04/14

Mount Vernon, WA: A new partnership has been formed within the Puget Sound to combat the growing problem of derelict vessels in Washington State waters. Representatives from the King County Sheriff’s Office, Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, Mason County Sheriff’s Office, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Kitsap County and the non-profit group Pierce County Citizens for a Healthy Bay joined the Derelict Vessel Prevention Program managers from San Juan County for two days of training hosted by the Puget Sound Partnership. Several of the new partners have already been dealing with this problem through the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Derelict Vessel Removal Program. “This is a new way to deal with and mitigate the potential hazards before a vessel sinks and pollutes the water. We want to work with the boat owners and provide assistance to help them remove their boats from the water before they become an ecological disaster” said Sgt. Jim Knauss of the King County Sheriff’s Office.

Each of the partners has received a grant from the Puget Sound Partnership to develop a prevention program. “There are many reasons why people let their boats become derelict and this grant will help us develop a program to better track the boats as they move from one jurisdiction to another. And through this new partnership, we will be able to share information like never before.” added Lt. Rodney Rochon of the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.

A small portion of all boat registration fees  in the state goes into the derelict vessel fund. This fund is used to remove derelict vessels before they sink. Unfortunately, a large portion of these funds are used to raise and dispose of vessels after they have sunk. As an example of the costs associated with removing derelict vessels, during the last 4 months of 2011, approximately $30,000 was spent on 4 boats in San Juan County. The hope is to identify vessels of concern before they become derelict. This will save tax payers a lot of money.

Joanruth Bauman, the Derelict Vessel Specialist from San Juan County said “Besides being unsightly, the vessels are a hazard to the environment. When a vessel sinks, oils, fuels, styrofoam, nets, chemicals, human waste and other debris are all now entering the environment.” Illicit activities also occur on board these vessels. Meth labs have been found, people illegally living on board and dumping waste overboard and thieves stealing from other boats in the area.

 

Washington State law requires all boats on state waters be seaworthy and comply with all local, state and federal laws. King County Deputy Charlie Akers says the problem is wide spread for various reasons. “Sometimes people have had a boat for a very long time and it has just gotten to be too much for them. Sometimes people buy a boat with real plans to fix it up, not realizing the time and expense that is required. Other times a handshake and a couple of dollars gets someone a place to live where the police can’t mess with them. Whatever the reason, these are the vessels that we need to identify and get off the water before they sink and pollute the environment. We need the public’s help.”

To report a derelict vessel or a vessel of concern, please contact your local law enforcement agency. If you are in King County or are not sure who to contact, please call Deputy Charlie Akers at (206) 296-7558.  

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