The legislature recognizes that there exists a great risk of potential damage from oil pollution of the waters of the state of Washington and further declares that immediate steps must be undertaken to reduce this risk. The legislature also is aware that such danger is expected to increase in future years in proportion to the increase in the size and cargo capacity of ships, barges, and other waterborne carriers, the construction and operational characteristics of these carriers, the density of waterborne traffic, and the need for a greater supply of petroleum products.
A program of systematic baseline studies to be conducted by the department of ecology has been recognized as a vital part of the efforts to reduce the risk of oil pollution of marine waters, and the legislature recognizes that many factors combine to make this effort one of considerable magnitude and difficulty. The marine shoreline of the state is about two thousand seven hundred miles long, a greater length than the combined coastlines of Oregon and California. There are some three million acres of submerged land and more than three hundred islands in these marine waters. The average depth of Puget Sound is two hundred twenty feet. There is a great diversity of animal life in the waters of the state. These waters have a multitude of uses by both humans and nonhumans, and the interaction between human activities and natural processes in these waters varies greatly with locale.