Ventura County

Ventura Harbor dock replacement brings commercial fishing, jettisons recreational boats

VENTURA, Calif. - The Ventura Harbor is on the heels of a major upgrade.

The $5 million dock replacement program is geared to bring in more commercial fishing, which means more revenue for the harbor and the City.

“They are redoing all the docks and they are going to have big slips for the squid boats, so the pleasure boats have to leave,” said Jeff Cook. “All of them, and we are one of those people.”

Cook has lived at the Ventura Harbor for nearly 30 years. But now his boat, along with all other recreational boats, must find a new home because of the new construction at the harbor.

“The Marina will be totally commercial at the end of the project,” said Dave Werneburg, the Harbor Village Marina Manager. “It will be Island Packers, our commercial fishing boasts, four dive boats, and paddle boats. No recreational boats. The recreational boats could easily find a home across the way.”

The $5 million dock replacement program is geared to make room for more fishing boats. The old wooden docks are being removed and replaced.

“Most of our old docks are about 50 years old, and they had foam floats,” said Werneburg. “The foam is starting to denigrate and we do not want that environmentally to get out into the ocean so we are replacing it with cement docks.”

The new docks will create more room for commercial fishing, which also creates more revenue for the harbor and the city. One set of boats being accommodated is the fleet from Silver Bay, one of the largest fisheries in the world.

“We are going from about 130 commercial slips to about 106 slips, but they will all be 60-80 foot slips which we need,” said Werneburg. “With the shellfish initiative that we are going to be doing out at the Islands, mussel farming and just the complexity of the commercial fisheries is changing.”

Ventura Harbor is known for squid. It's also the largest commercial fishing port on the West Coast outside of Alaska. The new project makes more room for growing demand. Meanwhile, Jeff Cook is taking off to his new home at the Channel Islands Harbor, and even though he isn’t mad, he's sad to leave the Harbor Village.

“I just want to say the management here in this marina was just wonderful, but you know change is part of life and we hope that the squid is a big revenue for the harbor,” said Cook. “We hope it all works out for everyone's best interest.”

The Ventura Harbor is already at 100 percent capacity for fishing vessels, with a five-year waiting list. The dock is expected to be finished in October.

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