By Jennifer Henion
Triplicate staff writer
Crescent City Harbor officials say the federal buyout of the local groundfish fleet may cause a significant loss of income.
Losing the big vessels may also result in moving the sport boat docks into the harbor's inner basin.
Harbor District Chief Executive Officer Rich Taylor said many of the 14 trawling vessels that participated in the federal buyout have already been sold and will not be paying moorage the harbor relies on for its general fund revenues.
"We went through and figured it would be about $30,000 for the moorage and we haven't figured out how much was being paid for gas and things like that," Taylor said.
The owners of the 14 vessels have each been paying the harbor about $1,700 per year for moorage and more for other fees related to keeping a boat in the harbor.
Last week, those boat owners agreed to sell their permits to catch groundfish, crab and shrimp, along with the right to use their boats for fishing anywhere in the world, to the National Marine Fisheries Service for about $500,000 per vessel.
Only one Crescent City boat owner eligible to participate in the buyout opted not to sell.
About 92 commercial groundfishing vessels located between Morro Bay and Bellingham, Wash., were involved in the NMFS buyout this month.
The purpose of the program is to replenish groundfish populations.
Despite the loss of income for the harbor, the extra space left by the vacating big commercial boats may help sport fishermen.
For the past several months, harbor officials have watched the decline of commercial fishing loom on the horizon and brainstormed on ways to attract more recreational anglers.
Currently, the sport boats are relegated to the outer basin and left exposed to stormy ocean waters. Harbor maintenance crews must remove the worn wooden docks there before winter arrives.
After the buyout, Taylor said, the harbor may consider using the vacated space at the more protected inner boat basin for the sporting fleet.
Overall, Taylor said the effect of the buyout on the harbor district is negative.
"It certainly isn't good news," he said.