Recent rains in west Ventura County washed millions of gallons of freshwater runoff into Ventura Harbor, which in turn killed hundreds of pounds of expensive seafood that had been stored there, harbor merchants and officials said Friday.
Deputy Harbormaster Bob Wallen said 700 pounds of live crabs were killed after rainwater streamed into the harbor last week.
“They had been left in the harbor overnight,” Wallen said. “But that’s not an uncommon occurrence when it’s raining. The freshwater runoff changes the [salt content] in the water.”
Fresh crab meat sells for as much as $3.50 per pound wholesale.
Wallen said his office notified state Department of Fish and Game wildlife biologists, and an investigation was underway. Fish and Game officials could not be reached Friday for comment.
For Randy Gravelin, a manager at Andria’s Seafood restaurant at Ventura Harbor, the recent storm cost his company more than $2,000.
The restaurant, which stores its lobsters in an underwater tank overnight, typically removes the seafood during heavy storms. But workers there last week failed to relocate the lobsters during the rainstorm, Gravelin said.
“We had 200 pounds of lobsters that died,” he said. “There’s no insurance for that. We underestimated the storm.”
Wholesale lobsters cost about $10 each, the restaurant manager said.
Gravelin said runoff from the Santa Clara and Ventura riverbeds pushes debris and pollutants into the harbor during storms, but most of the time, there is little environmental damage.