With a banner ocean salmon season prevailing across the North Coast, Crescent City Harbor's lone fish cleaning station has not been enough to keep up with demand from anglers.
Recreational fishermen collected at least 175 signatures on a petition asking the harbor district to reinstall two open-air fish cleaning stations that the district removed last year.
"The overuse of this one cleaning station has occasionally caused unclean conditions," the petition states.
Last summer, state regulators said the open-air stations were
suspected of contributing to a die-off of juvenile Brown Pelicans, due
to fish oil running from the stations into the water and fish carcasses
getting tossed into the water. Hungry young pelicans, looking for
alternative sources of food due to a high number of young pelicans and a
shortage of forage food, flocked to the fish cleaning stations,
sometimes choking to death on fish carcasses. The fish oil also coated
some birds' feathers, eliminating the insulating qualities of the birds'
coats and causing them to die from hypothermia.
district voted to preemptively remove the stations last summer,
recognizing the potential of lawsuits from the California Department of
Fish and Wildlife and Regional Water Quality Control Board.
the open air fish cleaning stations substantially reduced pelican
mortality in the harbor, but it also increased congestion at the
remaining, enclosed fish cleaning station," harbormaster/CEO Richard
Young said at a Tuesday harbor commission meeting.
commission heard from several upset fishermen, demanding another fish
cleaning station, with many not understanding why state regulators were
able to pressure the district into removing the stations.
to encourage recreational fishermen, but we have constraints we have to
work within," said harbor commissioner Wes White.
the open-air stations is not an option since the regional water board
called the discharge of oily fish wastewater an illegal discharge, but
Young recommended one possible option: pour a concrete slab at the old
RV Park on Anchor Way, surround it with fencing or netting to keep the
birds out, and connect the wastewater to the sewer system. That
proposal would cost around $10,000.
Young said that the district
was "a little overwhelmed" by the busy fishing season, but since the
congestion at the one cleaning station has become a "real problem,"
something has to be done.
Harbor district staff was directed to explore the temporary solution further.
Reach Adam Spencer at email@example.com.