About 180 recreational anglers and members of the sportfishing industry turned out on a wonderful fall evening at the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach, California to support fishing and recognize those who have gone above and beyond the call of duty during what has been a very active year for United Anglers of Southern California (UASC). While this was UASC's 18th Annual Fundraising Awards Dinner, it marked the 20th Anniversary for the leading non-profit conservation organization representing fishermen across Southern California.
The event was highlighted by the presentation of the 2009 Bill Ray Memorial Award - UASC's highest conservation honor - to Beverly Ray Parkhurst, in recognition of an extremely generous grant her foundation provided to support the organization's many important activities and programs. The list of those who have received this honor reads like a "who's who" of conservation and fishing luminaries, including Bart Hall, Peggie Shedd, Bill Beebe, Russ Izor, Senator Dede Alpert, Milt Shedd, and its namesake Bill Ray, late husband of Beverly Ray Parkhurst and co-founder of UASC. The award was accepted on Beverly's behalf by Dave Wooten of the Balboa Bay Club, which Beverly and Bill Ray founded. Ever the gracious lady, Parkhurst used the opportunity to shine the spotlight back on UASC's many accomplishments, presenting UASC President Steve Fukuto with one of her late husband's favorite pieces of fishing-related artwork.
The evening was filled with awards and recognition, including the introduction of Paul Simon of Marina Del Rey Anglers to present the first annual fishing club award named in his honor. Simon, who has been a driving force behind Marina Del Rey Anglers involvement in Southern California's successful white seabass growout program, humbly accepted this much deserved recognition and presented the Paul Simon Club Conservation Award trophy to Dave Kush, representing the Inland Salt Water Angling Club. This award was established by UASC to honor one Southern California fishing club for its commitment to conservation and support for recreational fishing throughout the year. This year, Inland Salt Water Angling Club was that club; recognized by robust applause from the crowd of appreciative fishermen.
"Everybody in our organization has been working tirelessly on a wide variety of issues, especially implementation of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) in Southern California," said Fukuto. "It is rejuvenating for UASC and the sportfishing community as a whole to be able to step back, take a deep breath and remember what is most important to all of us - fishing. We can't forget the reason why we go to all these meeting and work so hard during the year. We also can't forget the effort and dedication of our staff and volunteers, who are really the driving force behind UASC. Each year, I look forward to this opportunity to thank and honor the many people who play a part in making our organization successful," he added.
Adding to the importance of this occasion was the fact that Gordon Robertson and Patty Doerr of the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) took time out from their busy schedules and traveled all the way from our nation's capitol to attend. Robertson encouraged anglers to keep up the hard work for recreational fishing access and to stay engaged in the MLPA implementation process, as there is still much to be done.
The 2009 dinner marked this event's much anticipated return to the Balboa Bay Club, where guests were treated to a gourmet meal in luxurious surroundings on the waterfront in Newport Beach. Following tradition, the evening featured a wide variety of valuable door prizes, live and silent auction items and raffle prizes to add excitement and help raise much-needed funds that support the ongoing efforts of UASC throughout the year.
For more information about the ongoing activities of United Anglers of Southern California, call the main office at (562) 494-9900 or visit online at www.unitedanglers.com.