NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — The harbors in Newport Beach and Dana Point have reopened, allowing fishing vessels, tour boats and recreational craft to return to normal activities.

The harbors were closed after reports surfaced of 126,000 gallons of crude had spilled. That oil has made its way to southern California shores and triggered a call for volunteers to help clean up.

What You Need To Know

  • The harbors at Newport Beach and Dana Point have reopened

  • Newport Beach Mayor Brad Avery said the opening is a good step forward for local business

  • But beaches remain closed and the waters immediately off the coast of Newport Beach are closed to fishing

  • While Avery said the opening is good news, a change in weather could force a future closure

Newport Beach businesses that rely on an open harbor had to suspend business temporarily. Now, they’re back with one caveat. Fishing vessels cannot operate from Dana Point to Sunset Beach.

The moratorium extends six miles out into the ocean. That includes shellfish, like lobsters, which are currently in season.

Newport Beach Mayor Brad Avery said the news is a good step forward for the city’s economy.

“I think people will absolutely start coming back because we really had minimal impacts,” he said.

Beaches have been closely looked after, but the water is still closed to swimming, and won’t be open until water tests come back clean. 

Second District Supervisor Katrina Foley, who asked for volunteers to aid in the cleanup, announced the harbor openings along with Fifth District Supervisor Lisa Bartlett.

“I want to thank the leadership at United States Coast Guard, Orange County Harbor Patrol, and the leadership at our Orange County Emergency Operations Center for working with our residents to allow for the safe reopening of our harbors,” said Supervisor Katrina Foley. "The impacts of the oil spill have negatively impacted many small businesses that drive our vibrant coastal economy.”

The harbor, which reopened at 3 p.m., has been closely watched by private contractor Patriot, who Avery said was hired to help clean. The boat had placed two booms, he said, to halt an incoming oil flow. Both have been pushed aside, but Avery said weather conditions could force another harbor closure. 

But right now, the beaches remain a close area of observation. Avery walked the sands by the Wedge, a popular surfing area, and found no oil.

“All the beaches are really getting a lot of attention and cleanup,” Avery said. “I think people will absolutely start coming back because we really had minimal impacts.”

The city instructs visitors to avoid contaminated wildlife and report any injured animals by calling 1-877-823-6926.