July 31, 2015    Headlines

Central Bay Stripers and Haibut

The Bays:
Limits of striped bass continue  to be the rule with the combined Sea Wolf, New Huck Finn, and New Salmon Queen out of Emeryville Sport Fishing posting 66 limits of stripers to 10 pounds on Wednesday 7-29 after limiting out on rockfish along with 27 ling cod to 20 pounds. The Tigerfish ran an evening trip for 11 limits to 10 pounds before heading off to drift for halibut.
Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait was feeling pretty good after being featured on Channel 5 News on Thursday evening due to Tom Stienstra’s article in the San Francisco Chronicle. Skiffs and party boats are finding limits of stripers by 9:00 a.m. on the outgoing tide, and there are a few halibut around despite the minus tides. The halibut bite should improve next week with the smaller tides on the way. Loch Lomond has a solid supply of Loch Lomond shiners as well as live midshipmen and frozen midshipmen.

Rockfishing continues to be excellent with Captain Bob Wright of the Happy Hooker heading outside of the Gate on both Saturday and Sunday 7-26 for 38 limits of rockfish and 64 ling cod on Saturday along with picking up 64 striped bass within an hour in the bay. He said, “If we had swimbaits, we would have had a blast since they were on the surface boiling.” Sunday’s action was quite a bit slower in the bay due to the late outgoing tide. Wright was still heading in at 5:00 p.m., but the optimum tide period of max flow on the outgo was later in the day, so they ended up with 13 stripers after putting in limits of rockfish and 29 ling cod to 12 pounds outside of the Gate. Ron Zolezzi of Menlo Park, aka ‘The Z Man,’ was the jackpot winner with the largest ling, and Wright added, “The rockfish were all quality blacks, yellows, and browns.”
Keith Fraser of Loch Lomond Bait and Tackle in San Rafael reported a much slower striper bite in the bay, stating, “This is all caused by what scribes like to refer to as ‘anemic’ tides. Look at the tide book, and the one foot outgo tells the story.” The tides become far more favorable starting Wednesday with small minus tides beginning. As almost always, Loch Lomond has an excellent supply of live Loch Lomond shiners.

Citing structural problems, Berkeley closes historic pier
The historic Berkeley pier has been closed to the public due to structural problems. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel The city of Berkeley has announced the closure of its historic municipal fishing pier due to “considerable structural damage” that has made the popular walkway unsafe for the public.
Damage to the concrete decking and support system of the pier was found during an assessment earlier this summer. Signage and fencing have been posted in the area to cut off access pending the repairs, but where the money will come from to fix the problem remains an open question. The city did not respond Thursday to a request for additional information.
The announcement, in a memo from the city manager to the Berkeley City Council, 
was posted online Thursday. It comes after a decision earlier in the month to prohibit heavy trucks on the pier due to the structural issues. As a result, the city paid $7,900 to set off its Fourth of July fireworks from a barge rather than using the historic walkway, which juts out into the San Francisco Bay at the end of University Avenue.
The city discovered the structural damage prior to July 4 when it began looking into proposed repairs that would have made the pier smoother for wheelchairs, a city staffer told the Parks and Waterfront Commission earlier this month.
After finding the damage, “the City retained the services of IDA Structural Engineering, Inc. (IDA) to advise the City on the feasibility of using heavy trucks on the Pier for the fireworks show. IDA examined the underside of the Pier and found evidence of significant concrete 
spalling and badly corroded structural rebar.”
The city banned all vehicular access to the pier at that time.
According to the memo Thursday, “Further clarification and communication with IDA has resulted in the closure of the Pier to all pedestrian and vehicular traffic until further testing and repairs can be made.”
City staff is working with IDA “on possible methods to repair portions of the Pier and the potential costs, and will keep Council updated on our progress.”


Special to The Bee

After yet another revision, the governor’s plan to build twin tunnels through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta still makes no economic sense. A closer look at the three types of economic benefits claimed for the project to export water to Central Valley farms and Southern California cities shows why it can’t possibly justify its estimated $15 billion cost. In each case, I give a value derived directly from the optimistic estimates of the state’s consultants and a more intuitive comparison.

Water supply: The latest numbers estimate the tunnels will increase water exports south of the Delta by an annual average of 257,000 acre-feet, with no increase in drought years when it is needed most. The cumulative value of that water supply over 50 years is $2 billion to $3 billion.
For comparison, San Diego’s new desalination plant will provide 56,000 acre-feet of drought-proof water for a capital cost of $1 billion. Desalination is the most costly water supply alternative, but it still provides more than three times the water supply per dollar invested than the Delta tunnels.

Water quality: Because the tunnels would divert higher-quality water from the Sacramento River, the salt and other contaminants in export water supply could decrease by 20 percent. It’s estimated that this could have a cumulative value to water exporters of as much as $2 billion over 50 years.
However, it is important to remember that the tunnels aren’t a water treatment or desalination plant that purifies water. Thus, the water exporter’s gain in water quality will be offset by degraded water quality elsewhere, a concern that is at the center of opposition in the five Delta counties and environmental concerns raised by the EPA and others.

Seismic risk: Listening to the governor, earthquake protection is the main economic argument. But the state’s experts estimated seismic-risk reduction to water exports was only worth a cumulative $400 million over 50 years. Why is this value so low? First, it is a very low probability event even in the most pessimistic models. Second, the outage to water exports isn’t as bad as you hear in TV commercials. Department of Water Resources Director Mark Cowin correctly described it as “weeks or months” in a recent media call, not years. In a worst-case earthquake scenario, the tunnels might prevent 2 million to 3 million acre-feet in lost water exports, a costly but manageable shortage. For comparison, the current drought has cut surface water supplies to farms and cities by more than 10 million acre-feet.
The earthquake argument is not only economically wrong, it is morally outrageous. The real damage from what some call California’s Katrina would be death and destruction in the Delta itself. The state’s model of this tragedy shows hundreds could die and that 80 percent of the economic damage was from the loss of property and infrastructure in the Delta.
It’s shocking that the state’s response to this are water tunnels that protect only 20 percent of the economic loss and zero percent of the life loss. Levee upgrades are much cheaper and reduce risks for all Californians.
In sum, the economic benefits of the tunnels to the water exporters total about $5 billion of its $15 billion cost, and the benefit-cost ratio is even worse when the negative impacts to the Delta and risks to the environment and upstream interests are considered.
Support among water exporters has been steadily eroding as the economic and financial shortcomings of the plan become better understood.
A few years ago, the state tried to shore up its economic argument by attaching a huge value to the hope of 50-year regulatory protection from the Endangered Species Act, and incorrectly attributing habitat restoration benefits to the tunnels. After heavy criticism, the latest revision to the tunnels plan eliminates the 50-year regulatory assurance and separates environmental restoration. The plan’s already flimsy economic rationale evaporated with this correction.
It is increasingly clear that there are less divisive alternatives that provide more economic and environmental value than the tunnels. No amount of tweaking can save what is fundamentally a bad idea. It’s time to move on.

Jeffrey Michael, an economist, is director of the Center for Business and Policy Research at the University of the Pacific. Read his blog at
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Party Boat Information and Reservations Around the Bay

The Happy Hooker will be running potluck trips from the Berkeley Marina +1.510.223.5388

California Dawn will be running halibut and striper trips from the Berkeley Marina +1.510.417.5557

Emeryville Sportfishing Center is booking potluck trips on their fleet of 8 boats +1.510.654.604

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