THE COAST NEWS
SEPT. 21, 2012
Ahead of lobster season, fishermen concerned about sand replenishment By Jared Whitlock
COAST CITIES — This summer, a long-planned sand dredge designed to widen beaches for tourists and residents was postponed by nearly two months from its original completion date. Many lobstermen are worried about the delay, to say the least. “I was never in favor, but if they had to do this project, spring or summer would have been a much better time,” said Wayne Campbell, a lobsterman who docks his boat at Oceanside Harbor. SANDAG (San Diego Association of Government) kicked off the $22.5 million sand project about four weeks ago at Imperial Beach. Once the project is complete in two months, 1.4 million cubic yards of sand will have been placed on beaches from Imperial Beach to Oceanside. Originally the project was slated for late summer, but was then delayed until October through early November for North County beaches. That means the sand influx will overlap with the peak of lobster season, which starts Sept. 27 and ends in March. According to a SANDAG monitoring report, lobster is the most valuable species for the local fishing industry. In the fall and winter, larger and more frequent waves move sand offshore. Campbell said the newly deposited sand from the replenishment project will wash off the beach and bury nearshore reefs and kelp beds where lobsters live, displacing them and endangering larva. “Without the reefs,
there are less lobster to catch and they aren’t as predictable,” Campbell said. While difficult to estimate, Campbell expects his income to drop 15 or 20 percent this season due to the sand-replenishment project. It wouldn’t be the first time a beach-replenishment project has decreased catches, Campbell said. He blames a particularly poor 2001-02 season on the last SANDAG beach-replenishment project in 2001 that placed 2.1 million cubic yards of sand on local beaches. According to a SANDAG environmental impact report, lobster catches reported by the Oceanside port, one data point, fell from about 57,000 in 2001 to 40,000 the next year. The report states the sand dump may have played a role in the decline, but notes it’s difficult to isolate because of an array of variables influencing lobster season. Because catches rebounded in 2003, the report concluded the 2001 beach-replenishment project likely didn’t have a longterm effect. The report also explains the 2001 project may have adversely affected lobster larva, though not significantly and only for a brief period. In response, Campbell said it’s commonly accepted among fishermen that large dredge projects hurt fishing, especially ones as large as SANDAG’s. He added, “Even hurting one season is too much.” And Campbell believes this year’s SANDAG project will have a greater impact than it had in 2001. The 2001 sand project
Adam, a lobsterman who did not wish to give his last name and declined to comment, preps for lobster season by stacking traps on a boat docked at Oceanside Harbor. Many Lobstermen are concerned about a beach-replenishment project that could adversely affect the peak of lobster season. Photo by Jared Whitlock
took place from April to September, avoiding the peak of lobster season. But with the current project in North County, the sand is scheduled to be pumped from early October to early December at Cardiff State Beach, Moonlight Beach, Batiquitos Lagoon, as well as at heavily fished areas at north and south Carlsbad beaches and the southern end of Oceanside’s beachfront. “The first few months of lobster fishing are the best,” Campbell said. “Even three or four weeks of delay make a big difference.” SANDAG awarded the bid for the project to Great Lakes Dredge & Dock because they have a larger dredge and could complete the project in half the time.
The company was due to start the sand project in August, but had equipment problems at a Virginia site, postponing the San Diego project until September. The large dredge and other equipment will be at each North County site for a week or two. As such, lobstermen worry dredging operations, including pipes and boats, could temporarily limit where lobstermen can fish and potentially damage traps that are already set. An estimated 10,000 to 12,000 lobster traps are set during peak lobster season, according to SANDAG’s environmental draft report from last year. In another section, the report advises: “In an effort to reduce the impact on commercial fishing, sand place-
ment would occur between March 25 and September 15, to the extent feasible, so as to not adversely affect lobster season.” Shelby Tucker, SANDAG’s project manager of the beach replenishment said they have conducted considerable outreach to let lobstermen know about the project. Based on feedback from them, she said SANDAG has asked Great Lakes Dredge & Dock to revise transit routes at some beaches in order to minimize the impact on lobster fishing. “We tried to accommodate the lobstermen as much as we can,” Tucker said. “The other thing to remember is that there are lot of moving parts to this. Lobstermen aren’t the only group we had
to accommodate. “We had to work with city governments and orchestrate things around environmental groups who are concerned about various wildlife, like grunion season,” she added. Grunions peak spawning season is from March to early June. Tucker touted the benefits of the sand replenishment, including saving homes threatened by coastal erosion and giving people more sand area at beaches, a factor that’s important for tourism. The current beachreplenishment project was originally scheduled to take place from April to October, according to Tucker. Some have suggested pushing back the project to next spring. But that would cost millions at this point, Tucker said. Ted Pendleton, a lobsterman who fishes from San Clemente to La Jolla, said he wishes the sand dump wasn’t approved in the first place. Although it’s difficult to determine, his business could experience a 20 percent decline this year as a result of the beach replenishment. He questioned why sand is being placed on beaches in the fall and early winter. “The big waves will wash it away before it settles,” Pendleton said. In addition to lobster, other marine life stand to be impacted, he said. “Almost all underwater life relatively close to the shore will be affected — an entire ecosystem,” Pendelton said. “Everyone should be more concerned with what’s underneath the water, not just what’s next to it.”
Second mayoral and council debates find different voter favorites By Promise Yee
OCEANSIDE — A debate for both mayor and city council found some different voter favorites emerge over similar previous debates held last week. Tuesday’s debate was hosted by the Oceanside Coastal Neighborhood Association and moderated by the League of Women Voters. Many in attendance voiced support for incumbent Mayor Jim Wood, as well as Councilwoman Esther Sanchez and candidate Dana Corso for city council. There was also support for former Oceanside Mayor Terry Johnson, who is re-seeking the office of mayor.
“The mayor is doing a good job and who can’t like Mr. Johnson,” Kay Pratt, an Oceanside resident, said. Mike Bullock, who attended the debate, said it was the first time he heard mayoral candidate Johnson state his opposition to the now defeated Proposition E that pushed to end rent control. “He did not go public with his opinion,” Bullock said. “He didn’t go to bat for the people.” At the MiraCosta College debate held last week, voters were evenly split in favor of Wood and Councilman Jerry Kern for mayor and support for incumbent council members Sanchez and Jack Feller and council candi-
League of Women Voters volunteer Dorine Meade (left) explains audience question cards to Oceanside residents Grace Borski (center) and Sam Borski. Photo by Promise Yee
date Corso was also voiced. said Tuesday that they were Some undecided voters leaning towards city council
candidate Jimmy Knott out of the seven candidates running. Questions for the debate were provided by the audience, and ranged from topics as the downtown development and planned roadways to questions that were more localized to the south Oceanside neighborhood where the forum was held. Those questions focused on low income housing, caring for the environment and keeping council meetings civil. The general reaction from those in attendance was that candidates stuck to their platforms. It was also noted that a bit more was revealed by candidates.
City Council candidates Feller and Chip Dykes said the city does not need to take measures to address the effects of climate change. “We should not put any burdensome regulations in place on a theory that is not yet proven,” Dykes said. “We should be kind to the environment.” There was a marked difference in response from some of the city council candidates who may not have been as familiar with city issues as others. “There really are some green peas,” said Oceanside resident Diane Nygaard. Sanchez was the only city council candidate TURN TO JUMP_SLUG ON XX
The edition of The Coast News for the week of Sept. 21, 2012.