California oil spill shuts down fishing industry in the region

DANA POINT, Calif. (KCAL/CNN) – The 144,000-gallon oil spill off the coast of Orange County, California has prompted the closure of a number of fisheries.

Thursday, commercial fishing crews pulled lobster traps out of water empty after all fisheries between Sunset Beach and Dana Point were closed because of the Orange County oil spill.

Commercial fishermen like Seth Dubois are locked inside Dana Point and Newport Beach Harbors where boats cannot enter or exit on what was supposed to be the first day of lobster season.

“It’s pointless to even turn your boat on right now,” Dubois said. “Worst time possible, it’s effects pretty heavy.”

Josh Hernandez started fishing a couple of years ago. His future is tied up in slip fees, insurance and so much more during this crucial time.

“I got a thousand dollars worth of bait here,” Hernandez said. “I put ten thousand dollars into the boat. And I’ve got credit cards and a two-year-old at home.”

The owner of the Linda Faye, Ivar Southern, is leaving his boat docked and going to Oregon for now. He’s concerned about a future that may include the stigma of tainted seafood.

“No one knows right now,” said Southern. “There’s going to have to be a test made of the lobsters. And it’s going to be a long process.”

In the meantime, Dubois said the spill is already affecting his bottom line: “You’re looking at thousands and thousands and tens of thousands of dollars for sure for me. I know a lot of these guys, they got bigger permits, bigger responsibilities.”

The California Lobster and Trap Association’s president is hoping the industry will get financial help.

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