The District oversees and promotes many port development projects and programs. These include dredging, retention and improvement of commercial fishing facilities, improvement of transportation and maritime facilities, pilotage licensing, Oil Spill Co-op coordination, erosion control, shoreline protection projects, port marketing, mariculture, aquaculture and permitting for development.
The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers is obligated to annually maintain the shipping channels in Humboldt Bay, however any improvement or modernization of these channels, such as deepening, requires a local sponsor. The District has participated as the local sponsor in two federally-authorized channel-deepening projects with the Corps of Engineers. Outside of the federally-authorized navigation channels, the District is also responsible for completing periodic maintenance dredging on District facilities.
Commercial Fishing Facilities Retention and Improvement
The District operates a boat building and repair facility at Fields Landing. Commercial and private vessels use these facilities.
Transportation and Maritime Facility Improvement
Through careful planning, the District is committed to build the foundation for a real increase in the cargo handling capacity of the bay. Roughly 15 percent of Humboldt Bay's 33 miles of shoreline is considered appropriate for harbor facility development. Making the best use of this space through retention and improvement of existing facilities is critical to the port's future. The District also works with the US Coast Guard and the Humboldt Bay Harbor Safety Committee to improve the placement, operation and maintenance of navigational aids within Humboldt Bay.
Pilots are experienced in the navigation of large oceangoing vessels within Humboldt Bay and its channels. Pilots are required on all vessels over 300 gross tons. While the pilots do not work for the District, the District licenses them after experience and training criteria are satisfied.
Oil Spill Co-op Coordination
The Oil Spill Co-op is a mutual-aid first responder represented by the Humboldt Bay Harbor District, City of Eureka, Englund Marine and Renner Petroleum. The co-op's primary role is to quickly contain any spills at these facilities with pre-staged materials and trained personnel. Once contained, cleanup can occur.
Erosion Control and Shoreline Protection
To preserve, protect, and enhance portions of Humboldt Bay and Shelter Cove's open ocean boat launch facility from erosion, the District has implemented joint ventures with various agencies.
The District is engaged in a port-wide marketing effort to increase visibility of the Port of Humboldt Bay to a worldwide market, with the goal to optimize and diversify shipping activity to Humboldt Bay shipping terminals.
Mariculture and Aquaculture
The unique tidal flushing of Humboldt Bay makes it the perfect environment for the culture of marine organisms. Oysters are the primary species cultured in Humboldt Bay. The majority of the oyster culture occurs in north Humboldt Bay, also known as Arcata Bay.
The Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District Act empowers the board of commissioners to grant permits, franchises and leases. In many cases, the Harbor District is also the lead agency for development projects with regard to compliance with the provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and routinely works with other permitting agencies on the environmental assessment of proposed projects.
Development of recreational facilities is an important function of the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District. Woodley Island Marina, King Salmon beach, and the Shelter Cove open-ocean boat launching facility are examples of the District's commitment to recreational development. In addition, the District works on planning and improvements to other boat launch facilities, trails, water trails, and interpretive signage throughout its jurisdiction.
The District supports the efforts of other local agencies to develop water-oriented recreational facilities as well, such as improvements to the Fields Landing Boat Ramp by Humboldt County, and the improvement of facilities along Humboldt Bay's Eureka Channel as part of the City of Eureka's Waterfront Revitalization Plan.
A careful balance is required for the Humboldt Bay Harbor District to promote commerce, fisheries, navigation, and recreational uses of the bay while protecting Humboldt Bay's vast natural resources. Planning and management for the wise use of natural resources to prevent exploitation, destruction or neglect is key to maintaining this balance. To that end, the District coordinates bay activities through an Interagency Coordination Committee and Mariculture Monitoring Committee. In addition, the District developed a Humboldt Bay Management Plan, tapping the expertise of 19 agency and bay user group representatives. The District is also involved in many conservation activities including maintaining the most extensive bilge water recovery system on Humboldt Bay; implementing the first ballast water exchange program on the west coast of north America; managing several wildlife areas; participating in or coordinating many natural resource research projects; and participating in or sponsoring many bay awareness educational events.
In addition to its ongoing conservation programs, the District also manages and maintains three wildlife areas in the Humboldt Bay area.