Bit by bit, the Port of Brookings Harbor is getting back into the fishing business after last year’s tsunami.
And last week was a bit of a milestone, when a shrimp boat headed to Charleston from Crescent City developed mechanical problems and diverted to the port here.
After two days at sea, the fishermen had collected 90,000 pounds of shrimp.
A year ago, they couldn’t have docked here to offload their shrimp, as the public hoist had been wiped out by the tsunami.
But this year, a new hoist is in place and, after a bit of tinkering to work out the kinks, is up and running.
“The old hoist was very rarely used – not since I’ve been around the port has it been used in any measurable capacity,” said Port Manager Ted Fitzgerald. “We hope to encourage more outside use of that.”
Fitzgerald had never assisted in the unloading operations and didn’t think it would take the 10 hours it did for his crew of three and about six of the fishermen to get the shrimp off the boat.
The crews unloaded two, 350-pound baskets at a time – about 130 loads, Fitzgerald said. The shrimp were loaded into three trucks and transported to Astoria for processing.
At 3 cents a pound, that means about $2,700 for the port.
And the money goes toward credits for federal dollars for dredging operations at the port.
Port Orford knows all too well the challenges faced when sand collects at its port. That port’s channel hasn’t been dredged in two years, and is now merely a foot deep. Fishing boats, which account for 35 percent of the local economy, can’t get through.
Fitzgerald appreciates the business, even if it wasn’t in the boat owner’s original plans.
“It’s obviously more time- consuming to run 8 knots up to Charleston than to come in here,” he said. “Now, we’re hoping the port can get a piece of that action so we can help our revenue stream a little bit.”