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September 20, 2012

Morro Bay fishing industry brought in $7.4 million in 2011, builds towards long-term growth

by Central Coast Lending
Morro Bay Harbor (3)

The Morro Bay commercial fishing industry is growing. After hitting a 20-year low of $1.8 million in earnings at the dock in 2007, the Morro Bay fishing industry has quadrupled its income in 2011 to the tune of $7.4 million. The industry has made impressive strives in its organization and strategic planning, and added the technology, infrastructure, and jobs necessary to keep growth moving in a positive direction.

Following we list a few key data points that we picked up from the report, including the top landed fish in town.

For the full summary of 2011 activity, go ahead and read the 15-page Morro Bay Commercial Fisheries Economic Impact Report compiled Morro Bay Commercial Fisherman’s Organization HERE.

Activity and profits increased:

1) 2011: Earnings rose to $7.4 from $4.4 million in 2010 and a low of $1.8 million in 2007

2) 2011: Fish-tickets rose to 6,096, up from 3,102 in 2007.

3) 2011: Fisherman took 4,789 trips, compared to 3,102 in 2007


1) Three new vessels purchased

2) Extensive gear and vessel upgrades

3) Two new delivery trucks

4) New forklifts and totes at off-loading facilities

5) A 10% -15% increase in inventory at the local marine chandlery

6) A new fish pump, which will allow fisherman to offload Dover Sole and popular species like squid, sardines, anchovies and mackerel (a group known as CPS). The Tomich Brothers, a Southern California seafood buyer and processor, established the pump, which gives Morro Bay the capacity to participate in the CPS market for the first time since 2004.


Top species earnings report

The fishing industry has a cyclical quality to it. For example, Albacore landings peaked in 2000 and 2001, bringing in about $1.1 million and $1.45 million in value. However, from 1990 to 2011, other than those years earnings totals never went above $400,000. State and federal regulations can have a heavy impact on the industry as well. Regulations contributed to salmon landings nearly disappearing between 2007 and 2010 before making a slight, recent comeback. That being said, there are a few species that Morro Bay fisherman excel at landing.

- Sablefish: led all regional ports

- Swordfish: led all regional ports

- Thornyhead: second only to Oxnard in the region

- Near-shore species: led all regional ports

- Hagfish: second only to Santa Barbara in the region

- Spot Prawn: led all regional ports

Since 1990, the most valuable fish has been Rockfish, bringing in about $18 million. Second has been Spot Prawn and then near-shore species.


Average price per pound – $2.20 total (11 percent above 2010)

- Spot Prawn: $12.20 per pound

- Sablefish: $2.29 per pound (top landed species)

- Swordfish: $4.16 per pound

- Shortspine Thornyhead: $2.54 per pound

- Blackgill rockfish: $1.32 per pound

- Rockfish, cabezon, grass rockfish ($6.94, $5.59, $8.69)


Lastly, we want to remind you to look for to Morro Bay Harbor Festival for a chance to sample freshly caught fish straight from the dock. To borrow from Ryan Baker’s recent column on September and October local events:

Harbor Festival: Seafood fresh off the docks? Local beer and wine tasting? Live music? The Harbor Fest has it all. This annual festival celebrates the fisherman and marine lifestyle that make the small town by the sea one of a kind. Tickets are $10 at the door and $5 for kids between 5 and 12.


Central Coast Lending is a California mortgage brokerage based in San Luis Obispo County. With offices in San Luis Obispo, Morro Bay, Paso Robles, and Arroyo Grande, Central Coast Lending is the top source for Central Coast mortgage, real estate, and home loan needs. To see why using a broker offers lower rates and superior service, click HERE. For a free, hassle-free online pre-qualification click HERE or call 805.543.LOAN to talk to one of our expert loan officers.

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