Posted by Max Bottomtime on December 24, 2005 at 19:16:10:|
Squid dumped off Terminal Island kill port sea life
Lower oxygen levels in L.A. harbor water are fatal to fish and invertebrates. Officials issue violation notices to Terminal Island operators.
By Lee Peterson
A glut of squid ink and other squid waste dumped into Terminal Island's Fish Harbor by commercial fishing operations this month has killed sea life in the inlet and prompted authorities to order all such dumping to stop.
A busy squid-fishing season has reportedly brought a steady stream of fishing boats to the harbor to off-load their catch at processors there. When dumped into the harbor in large enough quantities, the ink released by the dying market squid and the other squid waste lower the harbor's levels of dissolved oxygen, suffocating fish and invertebrates.
Squid operators are supposed to either send the ammonia-laden hold tank water to treatment plants or pump it back into the boats' holds so it can be legally discharged at least 3 miles from shore, according to the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board.
Officials from the water board visited Fish Harbor this week and reported seeing illegal discharges from processing facilities. The board, part of the California Environmental Protection Agency, issued notices of violation Friday to three processing companies on Seaside Avenue at Fish Harbor.
Western Fish Co. operates one of the facilities that was issued a notice of violation. But Western Fish owner Lillo Augello said the site has two 4,000-gallon tanks there to collect the ink-contaminated hold water, until it is trucked to a treatment facility. Del Mar Seafood and Seven Oceans Fisheries were the other two companies issued notices of violation.
Fish Harbor is also home to the Southern California Marine Institute, a marine research and education facility where display tanks draw water from the harbor. Because of the squid ink, all the lobster, bass, halibut and leopard sharks in the tanks have died.
That same fate befell the fish, mussels and other invertebrates in the harbor, said SCMI Director Rick Pieper.
It's not known how long it will take for the situation to correct itself in the harbor, as newer water circulates in.
Dissolved oxygen in the harbor, which is normally 7 to 8 milligrams per liter, fell to 0.3 or 0.4 milligrams per liter in the last week and a half, Pieper said. At that concentration, the fish and invertebrates can't get enough oxygen from the water and die.
Sea gulls and sea lions meanwhile still visit the harbor, scavenging up the squid and dead fish.
The regional water quality control board fined a Port Hueneme fish processor $19,900 in December 1999 for illegally dumping squid ink and waste that year at the Ventura County port. In November 1999, the processor was issued a notice of violation, but did not take appropriate action quickly enough to stop the releases.