Since I was elected commissioner for the 4th Division of the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District (HBHR&CD) in 2009 the narrative from some people critical of the commission has been a conceived notion we have given up on shipping and only focus on Aquaculture. This is not the case. We have had setbacks that we were not able to control such as shoaling caused by sediment from the Eel river that received large volumes of rain this last year. This caused a few ships to be turned away, but overall we are surviving.
In 2016 we are expected to reach cargo levels of 583,019 metric tons. That is a 70% increase from 2015! Not only that, projections for 2017 shows we will nearly reach the million ton threshold next year which would be an additional 68.1% increase and a level not achieved in Humboldt Bay since 1991! A quarter of a century ago! That was when we had 2 pulp mills and one sawmill on the peninsula with nearly 1,000 high wage union workers. How did this happen? California Redwood has made vast improvements and upgrades to their facility with hopes of 10-12 vessels in 2017 and Schneider dock has picked up more log customers and Sierra Pacific dock reports stabilized business.
I know many people feel the Timber Industry is dead, but Lumber/Logs and Wood Chips represent about 50% of our shipping tons. When the pulp mills were open they added another 350,000 tons a year. From 2000 to 2008 the Samoa Pulp mill represented about 25% of the total volume of tonnage. That was a huge loss.
So since I have been in office we have went from 316,480 metric tons of cargo to 583,019. An 84% increase. If we reach the projected 980,000 metric tons next year, that will be a 209.7% percent increase since I took office. Is that not pretty good shipping increases? And we should have 2 cruise ships to boot in 2017.
The HBHR&CD commissioners continue to be proactive in soliciting businesses that would be a good fit to the bay and we have done our best to lobby and make sure dredging by the Army Corp is done each year. We are thankful to have partnerships with California Redwood, Schneider dock, and Sierra Pacific to make sure this happens.