The SAC “Road Show” Comes To Point Loma

In 2014, the Mexican government began implementation of policy changes regarding angler access, licensing and bag limits. In order to increase understanding of these changes and dialogue between Mexico and the U.S., the Sportfishing Association of California (SAC) led by President Ken Franke with Board approval, expanded their efforts to encourage ongoing joint communication and cooperation between the local government officials and sportfishing leaders in selected cities in Baja and Mainland Mexico.
Before arranging for their first trip, the SAC team visited Mazatlán and Cabo San Lucas. Then, in May, 2014, the team led by Capt. Franke and including Kenia Zamarripa, Former Director of Marketing and International Affairs; Alayna Siddall, Director of Science and Communications; along with the “Let’s Talk Hook-Up” crew Pete Gray and his sound engineer, Rick Cutler, ( traveled to the Marina Coral in Ensenada, BC for their first formal event.

Since that first trip, the SAC “Road Show” has returned annually to Cabo and Mazatlán and later added Loreto at the request of Luis Andrés Córdoba Urrutia, Secretary of Fisheries Aquaculture and Agricultural Development of the Government of the State of Baja California Sur (SEPADA).

In addition, they have returned to Ensenada several times.

Point Loma SportfishingThe visits of the SAC team have been welcomed as an opportunity for local tourism businesses, fishing fleets and government agencies to improve relationships with the members of SAC and all the landings in Southern California, along with 100% of the participation of the fleets they represent.

When an unfortunate scheduling glitch for a show in Cabo San Lucas on October 6 had to be cancelled, it became one of those light bulb moments for Franke. Why not take the opportunity to showcase the spiffy new offices of SAC overlooking the San Diego sportfishing landings?

It would allow them the opportunity to answer “below the border questions” from private boaters while introducing them to the Sportfishing Association of California services on their behalf.

Gray, Franke and his staff came up with a plan for the two-hour morning show. With no time to spread the news about the event, they got the word out on the Let’s Talk Hook up show several weeks in advance.

Founded in 1972 by industry leaders speaking out on behalf of their interests, SAC worked with numerous agencies and stakeholders: the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, United States Coast Guard, U.S. Navy, National Marine Fisheries Service, Federal Communications Commission, the U.S. Congress, California Legislature, and the Mexican Government. SAC represents 15 landings in Southern California with more than 200 sportfishing boats that are all individual members representing a remarkable 100% participation in SAC.

SAC employees serve on multiple advisory panels in the state and federal arena and represent industry interests on a variety of topics.

A non-profit organization funded by the sportfishing industry spills over to the private boating sector, including Mexico, Baja, NMFS and NOAA, looking out for interests ranging from regulations to education.

Arrangements were made to provide private boaters with a one-stop opportunity to receive assistance in submitting their Temporary Import Permit for their boat if they were planning to travel or fish in Mexico. In addition to providing a bi-lingual staff member, there is also a notary to assist filing the necessary forms along with assistance to anyone who needs help regarding fishing and boating in Baja/Mexico waters.

Fisherman’s Landing Tackle arranged to sell the $5 bracelets required to fish in the designated Pacific Islands Biosphere Reserve during the show.

Bracelets can also be purchased at Point Loma Sportfishing Tackle Shop, and Dana Landing Market & Fuel Dock.

As an additional incentive, a free fishing trip at one of the SAC member landings in California was given to every caller during the two-hour show as well as to all the attendees who came up to the microphone to ask a question.
Point Loma Sportfishing

The panel consisted of show hosts Gray and Rick Maxa along with Franke and SAC Vice President Capt. Don Hansen, who has more than three decades of service to the Pacific Fisheries Management Council. A lifelong participant in marine fisheries off the coast of California., he has been the owner of Dana Wharf Sportfishing since 1971 and serves as a member of many state and national fishery boards. Hansen is hailed by colleagues as a “conciliator who has fostered open dialogue and understanding between scientists, managers, and fishing communities.”

“Hansen has been the powerhouse and brain trust of SAC stretching back decades,” Franke observed during his introduction.

Another member of the panel, Capt. Frank Ursitti, manager of H&M Sportfishing for the past four years, owns the “Ranger” that runs out of both San Diego and Oxnard.

Steve Crooke, SAC Scientific Adviser who worked for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for 38 years and currently provides biological assistance to SAC for both state- and federally-managed fisheries was in attendance.
First hour guests included Coast Guard Commander Kris Szcechowicz, who Franke introduced as his “go-to” person for any maritime problems in the region; and also, from the Coast Guard was guest Chief Warrant Officer Greg Cable, recently arrived from Florida, an expert on charter vessels, their legal requirements and responsibilities.

The Coast Guard Officers fielded a variety of questions from the panel, audience and listeners, covering an extensive list of topics – legal charter operation, defining bare boat charters, illegal charter boat operations, proper credentials and permits required, experience, certificate of inspection, proper safety briefings and more.

Considering a recent incident at San Clemente Island where a private boater wandered into a hot target range: The officers emphasized the importance of confirming what areas are open and safe prior to their trip either by phone, VHF radio or online to verify and confirm which areas would be open to the public during a certain period.

The telephone lines were busy, and a steady stream of questions were presented by the audience.

The panel was able to answer them all.
The second hour promised to be equally entertaining and informative. It began with the introductions of the principles of Training Resources Maritime Institute specializing in providing professional training programs that meet the needs of the boating public featuring experts David Abrams, CEO, Training Resources, Maritime Institute and Dan Harrison, Curriculum Development Manager, Training Resources, Maritime Institute.
“TRLMI” is a private company established in 1998 with extensive experience conducting training for the Department of Defense and commercial enterprises. It has established a reputation in the maritime industry as a leader in providing Maritime Safety Training and Professional Consulting Services to various commercial enterprises and the Military Sealift Command, the largest operator of civilian manned logistic support vessels for the U.S. Navy.

The Maritime Institute, a veteran-owned small business, opened in 1976 in San Diego, and soon became a national leader in providing the most complete, comprehensive and up-to-date USCG approved courses for professional working mariners with an emphasis on safety and environmental awareness.

Maritime Institute is different from traditional maritime colleges and universities, because the student body consists of individuals with an exceptionally wide range of responsibilities. There are private boat owners, law enforcement, active duty and retired military, commercial boat and ship operators from sportfishing, towing and passenger ferries who come to visit the facility and see what it is all about.

They are in the process of developing an entire “Private Boater Information Series” to provide education on a variety of topics.

The first three are diesel engine maintenance, outboard engine maintenance and marine electrical systems. They are five-day, hands-on courses in the evenings with top-flight instructors.
Also offered are a complete array of courses to qualify for Coast Guard Certification from 6-pac to unlimited.

Hansen reported that the environmentalist has approached the Pacific Fisheries Management Council with concerns about the sardine and anchovy stocks off California’s coast.

Because of their concerns, he expects that log books may be implemented to establish whether the resource is in danger of depletion. This may be decided at a meeting on November 4 at the Marriot Hotel, Del Mar.
Ursitti announced the existing groundfish 60-fathoms depth restriction that has been in effect since 2001 due to efforts by SAC and others, where hoping for an increase to 75-fathoms to be approved, hopefully after the first of the year. Which would open many new areas to fish from San Diego to Pt. Conception. The new restricted depth would be an improvement for the fleets.

It was hailed as great news for the members of the SAC fleet as well as the private boat sector as the bottom fish season is just getting underway. A word of caution: the penalty for violating the new rules will be $5,000 for the first offense.

Franke urged everyone to “please adhere to the new depth restriction because it facilitates requests later for further amendments to the regulations.”

One caller asked about SAC and its Mission Statement. Franke answered the question succinctly, “The Mission is protecting our ocean resources while insuring public access.” He continued, “The organization has 15 landings with 200 boats owned by a broad spectrum of folks sharing a common interest. Some own individual boats, while others, like Hansen, own several – 14 in his case … a good group of people that is a marvelous brain trust to represent our interests, as well as the private boater.”

Photo by Arnold Seko

Closing, he thanked the SAC Staff, the Let’s Talk Hookup Team, guests, and his wife Karen, adding that she had “kept track of the 42 callers and audience members who had asked questions and received a free fishing trip from a landing in their area.” Fourteen private boat owners had taken advantage of the offer to have SAC assist them in applying for a TIP certificate from the Mexican Government.

Numerous others stopped by for additional private boating information.

After signing off, everyone agreed that the last-minute “Road Show” was a terrific idea. It just might become an annual event for San Diego.

Sat, Oct 6, 2018 – 7-8am: Let’s Talk Hookup Saturday 10/6/18- Live from the Sportfishing Association of California Open House
Sat, Oct 6, 2018– 8-9am: Let’s Talk Hookup Saturday 10/6/18- Live from the Sportfishing Association of California Open House

Bracelet Clarification
We were asked to clarify what role the CONANP bracelets play in the matrix of angler-specific documentation to visit the Coronado Islands:

*On the Let’s Talk Hook-up Radio Show, we spoke about the issuance of bracelets for anglers aboard private boats who want to visit the Coronado Islands of the Pacific Island Biosphere.

• The Pacific Island Biosphere, of which the Coronado Islands are a part, is a protected area – the equivalent to a national park. The bracelet is proof that the entry fee was paid to CONANP, the agency responsible for managing the area.

• The FMM requirement is still in full force as this is an Immigration (INM) process mandated within 12 miles of Mexican soil. It is unrelated to the CONANP bracelet.

• The CONAPESCA fishing license requirement is in full force as this is a fisheries process. It is also unrelated to the CONANP bracelet.

• CONANP, INM and CONAPESCA are three separate government agencies and all three fees must be paid and all three require documentation to be aboard the vessel or person (in the case of the bracelet, it must be worn).

That Baja Guy-Gary Graham
That Baja Guy-Gary Graham, the BD Outdoors Baja Editor, has more than five decades fishing experience off of Southern California and the Baja Peninsula. From light tackle and fly up to offshore marlin fishing, Gary has experienced all facets of this fishery. He's set several fly-fishing world record...