Non-profit recreational fishing organization United Anglers of Southern California (UASC) has been selected for membership in the California Roundtable on Recreation, Parks and Tourism, a Sacramento-based policy group made up of local, state and governmental organizations, private enterprises, user groups, environmental groups, educational institutions and the public.
Among the Roundtable's important achievements was the establishment of the California Children's Outdoor Bill of Rights, a document recommending fundamental outdoor experiences every child in California has the right to enjoy before entering high school. This Bill of Rights list - which specifically includes "Catch a Fish" - was officially recognized by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in a proclamation issued July, 2007.
UASC President Steven Fukuto, who has worked in recreational fishing for most of his adult life, was gratified by his organization's acceptance into this group and feels strongly that UASC can make valuable contributions to the Roundtable's stated goal of "Keeping California Active." "It's clear that the California Roundtable on Recreational, Parks and Tourism and UASC share a common vision when it comes to ensuring quality, sustainable outdoor recreation for Californians," Fukuto said. "We also both understand the importance of reaching out to our state's youth, to educate families and encourage participation in outdoor recreational opportunities like fishing."
As primary coordinator for UASC's many youth fishing activities, Beth Lafferty understands the importance - and joy - of introducing youngsters to fishing. "There is nothing more rewarding than helping a young boy or girl catch that first fish. It's an experience that sticks with them their whole lives - and it sticks with our volunteers, as well," said Lafferty, who will serve as primary liaison between UASC and the Roundtable. UASC works year-round to provide fishing experiences like this to young anglers across the state, and supports successful youth fishing programs such as Friends of Rollo and 976-TUNA Youth Fishing programs that take thousands of kids fishing each year.
It has long been part of UASC's mission to ensure access to recreational fishing for future generations. "The policies we help develop today will have a direct effect on the kids of tomorrow," Lafferty said. "We believe the California Children's Outdoor Bill of Rights (COBR) provides the foundation we need to build innovative programs that encourage children to put down their video games and enjoy a hands-on experience in the outdoors. Fishing really does have the power change lives," added Lafferty.
"Equally important to ensuring access and opportunities for young anglers is making sure there will be fish to catch in the future," said Fukuto. "UASC is committed to conservation and a robust, sustainable recreational fishery for all Californians. Our experience working with youth and understanding of the many challenges facing our state's marine resources will help us provide valuable input to the Roundtable."
There are many practical ways UASC and the California Roundtable will be able to help each other. "We'll start using the COBR logo immediately in conjunction with current and future UASC youth fishing programs, to begin giving this important movement increased visibility across Southern California," Lafferty said. "We will also encourage our member fishing clubs to adapt the COBR program for their children's fishing events, and work closely with state, county and city Parks and Recreation departments to spread the word and spirit of the COBR initiative," she added.
More information about the California Roundtable on Recreation, Parks and Tourism and the California Children's Outdoor Bill of Rights can be found online at www.calroundtable.org. To learn more about the ongoing activities of United Anglers of Southern California, contact organization headquarters at (877) 494-UASC or visit www.unitedanglers.com.