On Sunday, October 18 at 2 p.m., dozens of party boats from landings up and down the coast, private boaters coming by sea and by land, and hundreds of family recreational anglers will converge on Dana Point Harbor for a rally of angler solidarity and a show of support for the plan put forth by Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Workgroup 2.
This "Yes on 2!" Rally is being spearheaded by United Anglers of Southern California (UASC), Dana Wharf Sportfishing, Newport Landing, and Davey's Locker. Steven Fukuto, president of UASC, the non-profit organization representing thousands of family anglers for the past 20 years, understands the importance of conserving our marine resources. This is why the organization has long been involved in a range of issues such as water pollution, habitat protection and restoration, captive breeding programs and fisheries management activities. Fukuto also understands the potential devastating economic impacts that will become reality across Southern California if the more restrictive of these Workgroup Plans (Plan 1 or Plan 3) are passed into law.
"We're not out here saying 'no' to conservation - we're saying 'YES' to a plan that achieves the MLPA's mandated conservation goals while minimizing the economic and social impact on Southern Californians," said Fukuto. "This is a very important distinction, and one that shouldn't be lost on anglers or the general public. Angler's groups have been involved in this process from the start and have learned to accept that meeting the MLPA's conservation goals means a certain level of sacrifice for fishermen. Workgroup 2's Plan is still going to hurt - but we can live with the fact that it offers the best level of conservation while striving not to severely restricting recreational angling," added Fukuto.
Dana Wharf Sportfishing was chosen as the rally site because it, along with landings in nearby Newport Harbor, would be among the businesses most severely affected by proposed Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the Orange County component of Group 1 and Group 3's plans. Dana Wharf Sportfishing's and Newport Harbor's 1/2- and 3/4-day boat fleet - the bread and butter of the landing's business - would be shut out of many local areas. And the many families who embark daily on these easy, affordable fishing trips would be left high and dry. "What would happen here is not exclusive to Orange County either," warned Fukuto. "Under the most restrictive of these plans, similar situations would occur at landings and harbors across Southern California, with devastating economic results and loss of recreational opportunities. It also would impact private boaters and kayak anglers, forcing them to travel further and further from their launch sites, sometimes in rough conditions," said Fukuto.
The industry and Southern California sportfishing community is doing all it can to support this effort to rally anglers around the Workgroup 2 Plan. "I want to thank Dana Wharf Sportfishing, Newport Landing and Davey's Locker for their efforts and help in coordinating this event," Fukuto said." We hope that unified public support for Workgroup 2 Plan will influence the decision with the Blue Ribbon Tasks Force and we invite any organizations in favor of Workgroup 2 Proposal to be involved."
The Partnership for Sustainable Oceans (PSO), a combination of industry, non-profit conservation and grass-roots anglers' organizations, is actively involved in this educational effort. Media outlets such as Western Outdoor News and 976-TUNA.com are using their mass communications reach to help spread the word about the upcoming rally and the all-important MLPA meeting October 21 in Long Beach.
According to Fukuto, the two most important goals of this rally are motivation and education. "We absolutely must show up at the Long Beach meeting and make our presence felt in support of 'Yes on 2!'," said Fukuto. "It begins with this rally on October 18. We want to get people fired up and feeling they can make a difference. We also want to make sure our point gets across and that we make the most of the time we have during public comment. We'll be passing out talking points for the public, so they can represent the recreational angling community well and effectively communicate why we support the plan from Workgroup 2," added Fukuto.
Anglers are encouraged to attend this rally by any means possible. More information about the Dana Wharf rally and plans for public attendance at the Long Beach MLPA meeting, call the UASC office (562) 494-9900 or visit the organization's website at www.unitedanglers.com.