Fishing can resume along the Orange County coast on Tuesday afternoon, after the California Department of Fisheries and Wildlife determined it is safe to eat seafood taken from the waters after a massive oil spill in early October.
An estimated 25,000 gallons of crude oil spilled into the ocean from a ruptured pipeline off the coast of Huntington Beach. The sticky black crude washed up along southern California beaches, and the Orange County coastline has been closed to recreational and commercial activities, including surfing, swimming and fishing.
The return from fishing is a relief for many, including Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley, whose district includes the coastal towns of Huntington Beach and Newport Beach.
“This oil spill immediately put an end to the operations of many small businesses in our community whose livelihoods depend on the ability to fish off our southern California coast,” Foley said in a statement. “The business owners I have had the privilege of hearing from over the past few months are resilient, and I hope overcoming this final hurdle will finally help them get back on their feet.
John Doughty, owner of JD’s Big Game Tackle in Newport Beach, estimates he lost $ 10,000 to $ 15,000 in sales while the fishery closed.
“We have such a short season for business here,” Doughty, 74, said on Tuesday when contacted by phone. “The season is usually from June to September, maybe until December a good year. You need these profits to last the rest of the year.
Doughty’s store has been in Newport Beach for 44 years and says this year’s closure was an example of government overtaking.
“I understand the reality of the oil spill and why the closures were needed,” Doughty said. “I could even understand a week or a two week shutdown. But last month? It’s ridiculous.
Some losses cannot be measured, such as when an amateur fisherman needs to relax but cannot get out on the water.
“What does that do to their family life? Doughty asked. “Plus, they can take home the bacon with fresh fish. It all depends on a person’s state of mind.
Amplify Energy, the Texas-based company that operates the pipeline, is currently facing several federal lawsuits from companies, residents and landowners affected by the spill.
And the environmental fallout includes a dead bottlenose dolphin, three California sea lions and an array of birds, according to the UC Davis Oiled Wildlife Care Network.
The fishery closure, issued Oct. 3, stretched 45 miles along the coast and prohibited the capture of fish and shellfish from Huntington Beach to Dana Point, including all bays and harbors on Seal Beach at San Onofre State Beach.
State officials have determined that it is unhealthy to consume fish taken from the water after the spill because of the chemicals in the oil that can increase the risk of cancer. From October 14 to November 3, officials from the Office of Environmental Health Risk Assessment tested seafood collected from the shore and at sea for chemicals in crude oil that can build up in animals, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
“After extensive testing on seafood, the OEHHA has determined that there are no longer any potential public health risks associated with the consumption of seafood as a result of the October 2 oil spill.” said the director of the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. Charlton H. Bonham wrote On Monday.