The commercial fishing industry in Southern California received some good news in late November when the state Department of Fish and Wildlife reopened an area that had been closed for nearly two months due to an oil spill off the coast of the Orange County city of Huntington Beach.
The closure, which was officially lifted at midday on Nov. 30, began on Oct. 3. It prohibited the take of all fish and shellfish from Huntington Beach to Dana Point, including the shorelines and offshore areas and all bays.
At the time of the closure, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) had determined that a threat to public health from consuming fish in the affected area was likely.
On Oct. 5 and Oct. 7, the original closure area was expanded to include about 650 square miles of marine waters and roughly 45 miles of shoreline. The closure boundaries also included all bays and harbors from Seal Beach to San Onofre State Beach, an area of about 50 miles.
OEHHA notified CDFW on Nov. 29 that there’s no further risk to public health from seafood consumption in the affected area and recommended that fishing and consumption of seafood from the area resume.
We at Fishermen’s News, and I personally, would like to thank all the volunteers and all those in the public and private sectors to help clean up the affected area and prepare it for reopening.
Although much has been said and printed in the local and national media about the effect the oil spill has had on wildlife, not much attention has been paid to the plight of the commercial fishermen and women who had their livelihoods suddenly snatched away from them with no guarantee of it being returned.
But fortunately, the spill cleanup has gone well enough that fishing activities can now resume, and with government assurances that all catch emanating from the previously restricted area is safe for human consumption.
So if you live in the Los Angeles, Orange County or San Diego regions, congrats on making it through the storm, and may your waters be calm for some time to come.
Now, if we could only find ways to cut down on the huge backlog of container ships in Southern California clogging the area while anchored and waiting to enter the LA-Long Beach port complex.
Managing Editor Mark Nero can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org