Erosion Forces UCSD to Relocate Fishery

The Southwest Fisheries
Science Center
currently located on land leased from UCSD near Scripps Institution of
Oceanography, will be moved to a new location by 2011 due to the hazardous
levels of erosion observed in the cliffs beneath the center’s main facilities.

Over the summer, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration’s research center in La Jolla will be
partially evacuated because the foundations of two of the buildings have been
deemed unsafely close to the cliff’s edge for safety. Employees will be moving
to temporary offices elsewhere on UCSD’s campus.

Meanwhile, plans are underway to build a new research center
on the east side of La Jolla Shores Drive,
a significant distance from the cliffs.

“We hope the transition will be quite smooth,” said Meghan
Donahue, director of planning operations, management and information for the

According to Donahue, two-thirds of the staff will move to
temporary leased space on Torrey Pines Road. The remaining staff will stay in
the two buildings on the original site deemed safe for occupancy.

The new center is slated for completion by 2011 and is
estimated to cost as much as $104 million.

This year’s annual federal budget proposal includes
President George W. Bush’s $12.1-million request to help with the project’s
costs. Donahue said that additional increases in federal contributions will be
requested on an annual basis.

SFSC is working with the community to integrate the new
center into the neighborhood.

“We’ve had one public scoping meeting here at the lab and we
also attended and provided some information at two La Jolla community planning
meetings,” Donahue said.

Among the issues raised by community members are concerns
that the new center will block views and generate parking congestion. Right
now, most of the staff at the SFSC are forced to park on the street due to limited parking at the current center. However, Donahue said that the new center
will include 202 parking spaces below the building.

The planning team is
trying to minimize the impact on neighborhood viewpoints by painting the roofs
green to match the landscape. In addition, it will continue to host forums for
community members to voice concerns.

Donahue said that other than the time during which the
offices will be moved, the center’s research should not be significantly

The La Jolla laboratory is the headquarters for the NOAA’s
National Marine Fisheries Service and also houses units focused on Antarctic
ecosystems research, research on fisheries resources and research on protected
resources. The center’s scientists also
study Pacific and Antarctic fish, marine mammals, sea turtles and marine