OLYMPIA — The interests of the men and women who rely on the Washington coastline for their living would be better represented in Olympia under a bill passed by the Washington State Senate.

    Senate Bill 5603, sponsored by Sen. Brian Hatfield, D-Raymond, would write the Washington Coastal Marine Advisory Council into state law. Originally created by the Department of Ecology in 2011 as a stakeholder group, the council was comprised of representatives from coastal industries to provide a local, coastal perspective when implementing the state's coastal and ocean policy. Hatfield’s bill would put the council into statute, allowing the governor to appoint representatives to advocate for the best interests of coastal communities and industries.

    “The passage of this bill sends a message about the importance of coastal jobs,” Hatfield said. “In approving this bill, we ensure that fishermen and shellfish growers, hotel and bed and breakfast owners, and port and shipping interests will have a say in policies that impact Washington’s coastline.”

    The creation of the statute would bring more than a dozen representatives of coastal industries together to work with representatives from the Governor’s Office, the Department of Ecology, the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Fish & Wildlife, Washington State Parks and the Department of Commerce. Together they could create an open dialog and recommendations on state, local and tribal policies dealing with coastal waters issues, including resource management, fisheries, shellfish aquaculture and ocean energy.

    The Legislature passed similar leglislation last year, but it was vetoed by then-Gov. Chris Gregoire, who expressed various objections to empowering a new citizen-based board and requiring state agencies to consult with it.

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