DNR divers remove derelict mooring buoys near Port Hadlock; lawnmower remains elusive

Photo of DNR divers and staff aboard the Dawnbreaker near Port Hadlock.
DNR divers and aquatic resources staff retrieve an old, derelict mooring buoy from South Port Townsend Bay. Photo: Brady Scott / DNR

DNR’s dive team and Aquatic Resources staff spent a day earlier this week removing old, derelict and abandoned mooring buoys, lines and “anchors” from the waters of South Port Townsend Bay.

Buoys varied in size and shape, ranging from 30 inches in diameter to fender and crab-pot style buoys. Some of the buoys were flooded and submerged below the surface, creating a navigation hazard for unsuspecting mariners. Using knives and bolt cutters, divers also retrieved three small anchors.

Photos of old mooring buoys in the back of the dive boat.
Old mooring buoys pulled from South Port Townsend Bay. Photo: Brady Scott / DNR

The mooring buoy removal project is just one element of the South Port Townsend Bay Management Plan, a multi-partner endeavor to improve conditions for commercial shellfish beds in the bay.

Increasing numbers of illegally moored vessels in South Port Townsend Bay were threatening the health of shellfish beds due to the increased risk of boat-waste discharges. In 2012, DNR and numerous partners, such as Jefferson County and Washington Department of Health, collaborated on a management plan to address this issue. The plan also called for removing any derelict or abandoned mooring buoys in South Port Townsend Bay.

We know from underwater footage that an old lawnmower, acting as an anchor, was lying at the bottom of South Port Townsend Bay. Unfortunately, during this week’s removal activities, divers were unable to locate it.

The old moorings were disposed of at the local landfill. Disposal costs were less than $25.  

View a map showing the locations of the mooring buoys that were removed.

The South Port Townsend Bay Management Plan won the Governor’s Award for Smart Communities last June.

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