Attendees lining up to purchase tickets for The Fred Hall Shows -The Ultimate Outdoor Experience – at Long Beach, couldn’t miss the eye-catching bright red CCA-CA booth on the walkway outside the show this year.
The booth was filled with volunteers brimming with enthusiasm who were offering an annual $50 membership to CCA-CA that included entry to the Fred Hall show (thanks to show management) plus a voucher booklet worth more than $150 in free products, raffle entries and discounts.
The lines at the counters of the booth grew as the volunteers signed up new members throughout the 5-day show. Meanwhile, board member Harold Davis, Davis Boats, along with other volunteers spread out through the 600-exhibitor show distributing CCA-CA “I Support” counter signs.
The scene was repeated several weeks later at the 4-day Fred Hall – Del Mar show.
“We were practically spot-on with the 1,500 member enrollment projection for the two shows,” Ali Hussainy, one of the directors acknowledged. “It’s an impressive start in such a short period of time.”
During the two shows, the 24 board members answered questions about CCA-CA and its plans for the future. Below are a few of the responses to some of the questions about their personal motivation for becoming involved … answers that might be interesting and informative for those who didn’t have an opportunity to chat with individual members.
Early in 2014, a small group of passionate anglers representing every aspect of the recreational sport fishing community, joined by many of the leaders of the Southern California fishing industry, began discussing options for long-term solutions for protecting California’s fishery and anglers’ access to it.
Over time, the loosely knit group morphed into a strong cohesive board that unanimously agreed that establishing a California Chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) would offer the best path to achieving meaningful long-term solutions to their goal.
When I ran into Bob Fletcher, the former president of the Sportfishing Association of California at their Fred Hall booth, I asked why he was compelled to serve on the board of CCA-CA. He replied, “When it became apparent that California’s Recreational Angling community was without representation, Bill Shedd, AFTCO; Dave Pfeiffer, Shimano; myself and many others began conferring about the best way to establish an effective angler organization.”
Fletcher, having served on various commissions regionally and nationally, was aware of CCA’s effectiveness over the years. He had observed their methods in action that had been effective, plus he knew many of the individuals involved with the organization personally.
“We realized that CCA made sense and because California was wide open now, it was just a natural fit for our plans.”
The California group decided to invite CCA’s representatives to discuss ways we could work together with the much larger CCA organization. What’s resulted is the best hope for the future of recreational angling in California, especially Southern California,” Fletcher concluded.
I found Captain David Bacon also working the counter at the CCA-CA booth at Del Mar.
“I’m a firm believer in people grouping together to fight for our fishing rights. Over the years, I’ve seen a great deal of need for it and we’ve won some and lost some.
Really what we’ve needed is the bigger gun and that’s what CCA offers. They have been very successful around the nation’s coastal states, demonstrating their ability to obtain results and that’s exactly what we’ve needed in California. We have an enormous industry with powerful leaders joining together to make it happen here in California. Next CCA-CA will begin encouraging the formation of local chapters. This is how this kind of organization gets started; we are doing it right this time,” Bacon commented.
Radio host Pete Gray confided, “I am delighted to be involved with CCA because it is a credible national organization with proven results in Texas, Florida and the South. This is exactly what California needs to protect everyone’s rights to go fishing.”
Another director, Wendy Tochihara, asserted, “I’m in the industry, plus fishing is my hobby. I, too, believe the Coastal Conservation Association is exactly the kind of representation needed for the recreational angler in California.”
She continued, “It’s fantastic that we are partnering with Hubbs SeaWorld with a program similar to the flourishing white seabass program for halibut and yellowtail. CCA-CA is that vehicle to help the recreational anglers enhance their fishing and to allow access for recreational anglers.”
Tommy Gomes, booth hopping as usual, responded to my question. “The CCA-CA is pretty much our last defense. We have some big players on the board who are 100% banding together and are supported by CCA, a national organization. We are primarily a group of hard-working American business owners and anglers spread out across the United States with the single purpose of preserving recreational fishing – one of America’s favorite pastimes,” he concluded passionately.
Ali Hussainy, busy in the BD Outdoors booth, added, “We were so disorganized and blindsided by the MLPA process. Embarrassed, we all understood then that we couldn’t allow that to happen in the future.”
“This is our last shot at connecting So-Cal anglers and organizing something they can support and trust.” he continued, “CCA brings a track record that is proven along with a recipe for success with a membership of 110,000 in 17 states.”
“Rather than reinvent the wheel, we decided to go with the formula that is working all across the country and create CCA-CA.”
CCA-CA’s large pro-active board of 24 individuals shares a common goal: to passionately protect, defend and improve California’s vast marine resources for the recreational angler.
My advice to each of you is look up the members you know personally, or even know of, and ask them your specific questions. I promise you they will be eager to answer them.
Photo Credit: bright red CCA-CA booth: K. E. Pack Photography