Mystery Bay on Marrowstone Island in Jefferson County has two big draws: prolific commercial and tribal shellfish beds and a protected and serene anchorage for boaters. In the past, these two activities often came into conflict with one another.
To address the issues with boaters and shellfish harvesters in Mystery Bay, a diverse group of government agencies (including DNR), tribes, shellfish growers, and community members forged a collaborative partnership to seek creative solutions. In 2010, the Mystery Bay Management Planning Team completed a comprehensive plan for the bay.
On September 10, the team was recognized nationally for its work when it was presented with the annual Waterways Management Award by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) in Mobile, Ala.
Several years ago, too many boats in the bay forced the Washington State Department of Health to close the shellfish beds to harvesting during the heavy recreation boating season. The number of boats exceeded the federal standards for commercial shellfish safety. The closure put a strain on an important source of revenue for Jefferson County.
The happy ending in this story: the shellfish beds have been reopened. Thanks, largely, to the hard work of everyone involved in developing the Mystery Bay Management Plan. Now, this plan is serving as a model for other planning efforts such as the one taking place for Port Hadlock—the South Port Townsend Bay Management Plan.
The Waterways Management Award will be presented locally to the management plan team members at 7 p.m. on September 17 at the Marrowstone Island Community Association meeting at the Nordland Garden Club. For more information, contact Brady Scott, 360-732-0013.
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