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Economy

San Diego fishing operators catch a break from Orange County oil spill

Fishing boats are docked in America's Cup Harbor in Point Loma on Oct. 6, 2021.
Mike Damron
Fishing boats are docked in America's Cup Harbor in Point Loma on October 6, 2021.

Wednesday is the beginning of the lobster fishing season. But fishers looking for lobster and other seafood in the waters off Orange County are frustrated because they can’t leave port, due to the massive oil spill there.

So far, the oil is staying north of San Diego County. That’s a relief to sportfishing operators like Frank Ursitti, the president of H&M Landing, the largest sportfishing company in the county.

San Diego fishing operators catch a break from Orange County oil spill
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On Wednesday morning, he had just finished a very reassuring phone call with the marine region manager for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“Looks like things are going well actually in terms of containment, preemptive containment in place as well. Right now, the spill has migrated down to where it’s just north of Oceanside,” Ursitti said. “But again with favorable conditions, with lighter wind conditions, I think we’re positioned pretty well to keep things from spreading further to the south here in San Diego.

Ursitti said if the oil did spread here, it could be devastating to boat owners and their crews.

“It would absolutely impact those trips that are fishing near coastal, so we would see an immediate cessation of those trips,” Ursitti said.

RELATED: San Diego County 'ready to respond' if oil spill heads south

San Diego fishing operators catch a break from Orange County oil spill

Elsewhere in America’s Cup Harbor, Fred Huber co-owns three boats that take people out to sea for half or full-day trips. He said even if they were shut down right now, it wouldn’t be all that bad because they’re past what for them is the peak of fishing season.

“We would manage. It would be a… it’d be a disappointment, but it would not be the end of the world for us,” Huber said.

Of course, it’s not just those in the fishing business who rely on visitors to the coast. Scores of restaurants, hotels and a multitude of other businesses from Dana Point to Huntington Beach are feeling the pinch right now. For now, it appears businesses here won’t suffer the same fate.