Agenda Item 5
Review of Fish Buying Lease, Fish Buying Fees and Fee Enforcement
Commissioner Brennan's comments:
During the July 17th 2013 Harbor District meeting in South San Francisco the board reviewed and discussed current Fish Buying Fees, Fish Offloading Fees, Fee Enforcement and Fish Buying Activity Permits.
The General Manager made it clear at the July meeting that the fish buying fees and fish offloading fees required in the leases held by Morningstar, Pillar Point Seafood and Three Captains don’t reflect market conditions of Northern California commercial fishing ports.
All three Harbor District leases currently require fish buyers pay $10.00 per ton for wet-fish, $.01 per pound for finfish and shellfish, and five percent (5%) for all retail fish sold on-top of $.01 per pound. Additionally the leases require fish off-loaders pay $10.00 per ton for wet-fish and $.01 per pound for finfish and shellfish. That means that if a leaseholder offloads fish and buys fish they would be required to pay a total of $20.00 per ton for wet-fish and $.02 per pound for shellfish and finfish.
Fishermen that sell finfish and shellfish/crab from fishing vessels at Pillar Point Harbor are not required to pay the District five percent (5%) for retail sales, and for this reason it’s inconsistent to require Morning Star Fisheries, Pillar Point Seafood and Three Captains to pay a 5% retail sales fee.
Based on data included in the General Managers July 10, 2013 Memo it’s apparent that other Northern California commercial fishing ports charge no fees or much lower fees for fish offloading and fish buying.
At the July 17th meeting it was noted that the wet-fish offloading fee included in the General Managers July 10, 2013 memo was incorrect. The City of Monterey charges $1.74 per ton NOT $1.74 per lb. for squid offloading. The General Manager should correct the misinformation included in his Memo, as he was aware of the correct fee on May 17, 2013 9:33 am via an email from staff.
After reviewing the fee data provided at the July 17 meeting it's clear that SMC Harbor District wetfish, shellfish and finfish fees are not competitive with other commercial fishing ports in the area.
Fish Purchasing Fees and Fish Buying Fees trickle down to commercial fishermen. When the Harbor District attempts to extract fees from commercial fishing businesses, without accurate data and sound reasons for comparatively high fees the District runs the risk of harming small business and weakening the local economy.
The fees and fee enforcement included in the current leases are structured in a way that is counterproductive to the goals and priorities of the Harbor District.
The Coastal Commission adopted SMC Harbor District Appeal No. 133-79 that specified Condition (1B), "one-half of all slips for the exclusive use of active commercial fishing boats." Local Coastal Program (LCP) section 12.5.A states, "commercial fishing and recreational boating are on an equal basis, and to accommodate those needs accordingly." This applies specifically to Pillar Point Harbor with regards to space and resources.
The Harbor District has a vested interest in the success of the commercial fishing fleet. Requiring arbitrarily high fees for offloading and fish buying at Pillar Point Harbor isn't a sustainable approach to generating revenue and it's not in keeping with the goals and priorities of the Harbor District or the Midcoast LCP.
Commissioner Brennan's Motion:
For these reasons I move to amend all three leases, discontinue all fees and raise the minimum base rent to $3000.00 per month, to be effective as of July 1, 2013.
The motion failed for lack of a second.
- It should be noted that the Harbor District currently does not have a way audit or enforce the fish offloading and buying fees at Pillar Point Harbor. Johnson Pier does not have a scale, a gate, video cameras or a staff person dedicated to counting fish.
- Read the Dec. 2014 Dornbusch Report