Seismic Effect

Sep 3, 2012 11:20 AM by Cameron Polom, KSBY News

Seismic Effect: How PG&E plans to reimburse fisherman for lost catches

Fishermen on the Central Coast continue to worry about both short term and long term effects on their businesses due to PG&Es upcoming seismic survey using sound waves.
We continue our in depth coverage of the seismic effect tonight with a look at how PG&E plans to cover lost catches commercial fishers say they'll experience during testing.
According to PG&E, an offer has been presented in the amount of one-point-two million dollars for lost catches for the months of November through December for both this year and the next. However, fishermen say there's a snag in those negotiations.

Mark Tognazzini has fished Morro Bay for almost fifty years.

"I also have a restaurant and a fish market here," says Tognazzini.

As a representative for the fishers council, he's sat across the table with PG&E, during negotiations and fears these surveys will have a massive effect on the commercial fishing industry.

"Its been proven that there's actual displacement of certain species of rockfish," says Tognazzini. "There's actual change in their behavior."

Studies show that fish stop biting during these surveys, and that change, takes a toll on fisher men's wallets.

PG&E says that's something they take very seriously.

"We're sensitive to the fact that this study could potentially impact local fisherman in the area," says Blair Jones of PG&E. "That's why we're working with them to find a way to compensate them for potential losses."

The plan is to use historical fish catch data provided by California Fish and Game.

According to a four year average value of catches since 2006 over a four month period running from september to december, the average value during that time was just over 800-thousand dollars. The highest valued year was just over one point one million dollars.

PG&E says they feel the offer of one point two million is fair.

But Tognazzini feels differently.

"I have tell you what they want and what we want, we're light years apart," says Tognazzini. "They can say what ever they want and we can still say what ever we want, but there's no agreement!"

Fisherman continue to worry about long term effects. Negotiations between them and PG&E have stalled at this point and now both sides have agreed to bring in a third party mediator to sit in on those negotiations. However, it looks like there's going to be quite sometime before an agreement is reached.

Long term effects is still a valid concern because there is no sure fire data that says fish displacement will not be permanent.
We did however contact commercial fisherman in Santa Barbara who've had a lot of experience with these types of surveys.
They told us that in short term fish stop biting but within a few months after the surveys end, the fish have returned to normal behavior.

But its still up in the air how fish will react in this area.

» There are multiple updates to this story. Please click here to get the latest information.

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