Jul 26, 2011 10:18 PM by Kathy Kuretich

Debate brewing between PG&E and Morro Bay fisherman

There's a big debate brewing between Morro Bay commercial fishermen and PG&E, over those seismic studies needed to keep Diablo Canyon licensed.
It has do with an offshore seismic study, that some fisherman say, could scare away fish and marine mammals.
Last spring, PG&E applied for a permit to the State Lands Commission to allow a high energy seismic study of the coastline.
In the study, air guns would be used to blast up to 250 decibels into the earth.
The goal is to get a better understanding of fault lines below the earth's surface.
Some commercial fisherman in Morro Bay said Tuesday, they're fearful the sound waves will disrupt or even harm marine life. They point to several studies that back up their argument.
But PG&E said, they're still in the beginning stages of the permit process, and they have plans to protect marine life.
There are three parts to the seismic study... an onshore component, and both a low and high-energy offshore study.
And it's the high-energy offshore study that has many fishermen and many environmentalists upset.
They think putting 250 decibels in the ocean could disrupt marine life and send fish and mammals out of the area.
PG&E says, they plan to secure a half-mile buffer zone manned by several people on the look out for fish and mammals.
"We're committed to ensuring that we look out in the ocean, we see what kind of marine mammals and fish are out there and if they do break the exclusionary zone, we will stop the work," said PG&E spokesperson Kory Raftery.
But fisherman Bill Blue said there are protected areas of water that are off-limits to fishing, so they should be protected from PG&E as well.
"For them to be able to come in and do what had proven to be damaging to rockfish species, to be able to come in and do that work, you know, it's not right," said Blue.
There will be several opportunities for public comment throughout this process.
The first deadline is July 29th, then the State Lands Commission moves to the next phase of the process -- which is hiring a third party to complete an environmental impact report.
After that, they will release that report to the public for additional comments.
That's expected to happen sometime in November or December.



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