The Ventura County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved construction of a small commercial-fishing dock at the predominantly recreational Channel Islands Harbor.
Fishermen hailed the step as positive but long overdue.
"There's an obvious need for more facilities, more docks, more space on the waterfronts. There's a tremendous tie-up," said Brandon King, owner of the harbor seafood company that bears his name.
About 30 commercial-fishing boats use a makeshift, 120-foot wharf next to Reuben's Restaurant and face delays of two hours during peak periods before they can unload their catch, Harbor Manager Frank Anderson said.
The 150-foot dock, at the harbor's western end near Tugs Restaurant, would slice that time in half by accommodating two vessels at once, county officials say. It would also offer refrigerated facilities and two hoists for unloading.
Anderson said the project will be financed with a $300,000 loan from the California Coastal Conservancy. The money will be repaid by tapping general harbor revenue and fees charged for hoist use, he said.
The county has no plans to build a fish-processing or storage facility at the harbor, although it would like to open a wholesale and retail seafood market next to the dock sometime next year, said Blake Boyle, manager of recreation services for Ventura County.
Most of the sea urchin, cod, halibut and shark now unloaded at the Channel Islands Harbor goes into wholesalers' refrigerated seafood trucks that pull up next to the wharf.
County officials said they are building the commercial dock to comply with California Coastal Commission regulations, which require harbors to accommodate the fishing industry as well as recreational vessels.
Less than 5% of the harbor is dedicated to commercial fishing, and Anderson said he does not expect that the new wharf will bring fishing enterprises into the area.