Crescent City Harbor has removed its outer fish-cleaning stations as a result of pelican deaths and environmental hazards produced by dumping fish waste into the water.
Some sport fishermen were improperly disposing of fish carcasses after filleting their daily bounty by tossing them into the harbor water, resulting in immature pelicans finding an easy food source. Ultimately, this killed some of the birds more accustomed to eating smaller fish.
Fish oil leaking into the harbor from the cleaning stations also threatened to coat the pelicans’ feathers, disrupting the ability to control body temperature and putting them at risk of death from hypothermia.
“We’d love to leave the fish stations in,” said Harbormaster Rich Young. “At the same time, it seems like the least bad choice was to pull the fish cleaning stations out.”
The fish waste also threatened the integrity of the water quality and attracted more sea lions, he said.
“I knew people were going to be unhappy, but there is not a good answer other than to get those fish-cleaning stations enclosed,” said Young.
There is currently one enclosed cleaning station located on the back of the public restrooms near the boat launch in the harbor parking lot.
“We’ll still provide totes and try to keep them clean throughout the day,” said Young.
He said it seemed to be only a minority of fishermen who were improperly disposing of the fish waste.
Managers at Alber Seafood are discussing the possibility of offering a filleting service to fishermen, but that has yet to be hashed out, said assistant manager Josh Hambrick.