New docks, moorings and other amenities in the east end of Dana Point Harbor for the exclusive use of commercial fishermen were approved Tuesday by the Orange County Board of Supervisors.
The project, with an estimated cost of $1.6 million, will be the only one of its kind in the county.
Some facilities for recreational fishermen might also be included in the project, said David Rosso, an official of the county Harbors, Beaches and Parks Department.
The new facilities will be inside the harbor's east breakwater, adjacent to the existing fuel dock.
More than a dozen commercial boats are berthed at Dana Point, 10 of them at Dana Wharf Sportfishing docks. About 12 others operate out of Newport Harbor and Huntington Harbour, and most use private facilities.
Rosso said the commercial project includes a pier with an attached floating dock capable of handling two to three vessels at a time, depending on their length, for loading and unloading, plus nearby moorings for 19 boats.
A $20,000 study, including a survey among a number of fishermen, was completed for the county by the engineering firm of Moffatt & Nichol; it indicated that most of the fishermen approved the concept.
Don Hansen, operator of Dana Wharf Sportfishing, which is directly across the channel from the planned project, said it would be "a big relief to me" if the 10 commercial vessels now berthed on his docks "could find a new home."
"I would have no problem at all in filling my (vacated) slips with more sportfishing boats," he said.
Rosso said recreational fishermen who now use the east breakwater might be provided with "pods," or short piers extending from the breakwater, some type of paved walkway on top of the seawall and handrails.
He said potential sources of funding could include loans from the California Department of Boating and Waterways or the California Coastal Conservancy.