The Washington State Department of Natural Resources announced today that work is underway to remove an 11,900-square-foot aging and derelict net pen from Quartermaster Harbor near Dockton Park.

The net pen poses a risk to navigation, public safety, and the environmental health of the bay. It was illegally moored and abandoned on state-owned aquatic lands and is in disrepair. The net pen is secured in place by three aging pilings that contain toxic creosote and is cabled to concrete anchors at the corners. Net pens are floating enclosures used primarily to rear fish.

Tires and plastic foam blocks were used to keep the net pen afloat, and some of the tires have sunk to the seabed and much of foam has broken loose. Both materials can harm the aquatic environment and marine life. Tires can break down in the water, leaching toxic materials, such as heavy metals and petroleum products; plastic foam breaks down and can be mistaken for food by fish and birds.

Beneath the net pen lies a sunken vessel, estimated to be at least 60 feet long, and has the potential to obstruct navigation once the net pen is removed. On June 1, DNR’s Derelict Vessel Removal Program started the 30-day process to take custody of the vessel and will arrange to have it removed as soon as possible. DNR advises boaters to remain clear of the area until the vessel is removed.