Puget Sound’s Strait of Juan de Fuca will for the first time be protected year-round by a standby rescue tug stationed at Neah Bay,

thanks to action by the legislature which budgeted $3.65 million for

contract services.

The 2008 supplemental operating budget was adopted this week before the

session’s adjournment and funds a rescue tug through June 2009.

“This is great news,” said Kathy Fletcher, executive director of People For

Puget Sound. “The rescue tug has repeatedly saved our marine environment

from oil spills. We have a few nervous months ahead, but starting in July,

we’ll be good for a whole year.”

The rescue tug’s current part-time contract ended March 7, after which time

it went off duty.

A standby rescue tug has been in part-time service during the winter months

since 1999 and has made 40 assists of vessels in distress. This past winter

season alone, the rescue tug was called out to assist six vessels.

Federal legislation requiring the shipping industry to pay for year-round,

standby rescue tug service at Neah Bay has been introduced by Senator Maria


The issue of permanent, year-round funding for rescue tugs and oil spill

prevention measures is to be considered by the Puget Sound Partnership in

developing its Action Agenda by September 2008.