Herring pens remain in operation


William Dietz, KP News

The battle over the herring pens at the Lakebay Marina continues. Photo: Mindi LaRose, KP News

The herring pens in Mayo Cove remain in operation. For the moment anyway. That’s the word from Mark Luppino, a code enforcement officer for Pierce County. The pens, which belong to Lakebay Marina owner Derwin Hostetler, have been the subject of controversy in a community where some local residents see the containments as a problem and others view the pens as part of life on the peninsula.

The whole thing came to a head when the county served Hostetler with a cease and desist order. Then, in the words of Jill Guernsey, deputy prosecutor for Pierce County, “he (Hostetler) appealed that, and the appeal hearing will be before the hearing examiner on Oct. 13. In the meantime, there’s the question of whether the cease and desist order will be in force while the appeal takes place—and the hearing examiner ordered the cease and desist order stayed during pendency of the appeal.” Which means the pens can remain in operation while the legal process goes forward.

But, as Luppino points out, “that determination could be appealed by either side.”

Members of the Mayo Cove community disagree over whether the herring pens should remain or go. “I think it’s not ideal for the people on our side of things, but I don’t want anyone to lose income associated with the situation, and this is part of the legal process,” says property owner Dylan Stanley.  “Some people say we’re newcomers who are just trying to stir things up. But that’s not the reality of the situation. Some of the people who signed the complaint letter have been in the community for a long time. In fact, the majority of property owners around Mayo Cove signed the letter.”

Resident Art Olson disagrees. “I’ve known Derwin Hostetler for 40 years. He’s just an old guy trying to make a living,” he says. “Herring fishing has been going on for years.  People should let him be.”

Olson knows there’s the possibility that Hostetler won’t be allowed to operate the  herring pens, however, and when asked about that, he’s philosophical. “The law is going to be what the law is,” Olson says. “I don’t know which way it will go.” Nonetheless, it’s clear that Olson, and residents like him, would be happy to see the pens remain in Mayo Cove, should Hostetler win his case or some compromise be found.

Does Olson see some sort of schism between those who have lived in the area for a long time, and those who have arrived relatively recently? He laughs, and says, “Yeah, sure.”

As for the man at the center of the controversy, he remains defiant. “I’ve checked with two other marinas,” Hostetler says, “and they don’t have any clauses in their leases from the Department of Natural Resources forbidding herring pens. We’re getting affidavits from the other marinas.”

When asked what he would do should he ultimately lose the case, Hostetler says, “I may sell to the (Puyallup) Tribe if I lose and they would be able to put it (the marina) into tribal trust lands. That would take it off the tax rolls and everything else. Then everyone would have to live with the tribe.”