CCA California Set to Recognize Sportfishing Legend Don Hansen

CCA California Set to Recognize Sportfishing Legend Don Hansen with Its Highest Honor: The 2021 Anthony Hsieh Conservation Award

Honoring California’s Pioneering Founder of Dana Wharf Sportfishing Will Highlight an Evening of Festivities at the CCA CAL’s Orange County Chapter Banquet, October 29, at the Costa Mesa Country Club

September 21st, 2021: The Coastal Conservation Association of California (CCA CAL) will honor the pioneering founder of Dana Wharf Sportfishing, Don Hansen, during the CCA CAL Orange County chapter banquet on the evening of October 29 at the Costa Mesa Country Club.

CCA CAL will present Hansen with the organization’s highest honor, the 2021 Anthony Hsieh Conservation Award in recognition of Hansen’s decades of tireless work and dedication to improving California sportfishing and making angling accessible to everyone.

Established in 2018, the Anthony Hsieh Conservation Award is given each year by CCA CAL to an individual who has supported sportfishing in California and has made meaningful contributions toward the protection, restoration, and enhancement of California marine resources.

Complementing the Orange County chapter’s evening of festivities on October 29 will be a fund-raising golf tournament at the Costa Mesa Country Club earlier in the day. Tee-off time is set for 1 pm with a short-gun start, four-player scramble, and best-ball tournament rules. Reception, dinner, raffles, auctions and award presentations will get underway starting at 5 pm at the Country Club banquet hall.

The highlight of the evening will be the presentation of the Anthony Hsieh Conservation Award to Hansen, who fell in love with the sea as a kid, spent his life on the water, and has ascended to legendary status in Southern California sportfishing community.

“We are very proud to have Don Hansen as a member of CCA California,” said Bill Shedd, chairman of the non-profit organization and CEO of AFTCO. “Don is a larger-than-life legend in the sportfishing community whose contributions to conservation and recreational-fishing access are incalculable. CCA CAL’s Anthony Hsieh Conservation Award is the most prestigious honor we can bestow and Don more than deserves this.”

Hansen first started working in the sportfishing industry at age of 12 on the San Clemente Pier, where he was hauling fish from the pier to the shore in his wooden wagon for tip money. Once 18, he joined the United States Coast Guard to serve his country, just in time for the Korean War. He served for four years, two of those stationed in Guam.

After his military service, Hansen ran vessels and worked for San Clemente Sportfishing, which ultimately led to him purchasing the company in 1966. Almost single-handedly, he took out over 10,000 anglers every season from the San Clemente Pier on four different boats. 

Shortly after moving into the newly built Dana Point Harbor in 1971, Hansen started the whale watching industry, offering sightseeing tours and nature trips. He also created the Festival of Whales to celebrate the migration of gray whales and other cetaceans along the Southern California coast. It is currently the longest-running festival of its kind in the world. 

Giving back continues to be a huge part of Hansen’s legacy. With the help of his daughter, CCA CAL State Board Member Donna Kalez, they have started multiple kids’ marine education programs, with Hansen serving four years on the board of the San Clemente Chamber of Commerce, He was named San Clemente’s “Citizen of the Year” in 1970. He also later received San Clemente’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005. 

Don Hansen continues to focus his time and efforts on the sportfishing industry, trying to keep recreational fishing viable for generations to come. Recently, he served as Chairman of the Pacific Fisheries Management Council, appointed as Commissioner for the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, and was also appointed to the commissioner on the National Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission. Hansen currently serves as the Vice President of the Sportfishing Association of California. 

To learn more about CCA CAL Orange County chapter banquet and golf tournament and make your reservations, visit

ABOUT CCA CAL: The Coastal Conservation Association of California (CCA CAL) was created in 2015 when recreational anglers and outdoor enthusiasts came together to work for the conservation and enhancement of our marine resources and coastal environments.

Today, we are working to protect not only the health, habitat, and sustainability of our marine resources, as well as the interests of saltwater anglers. Our goal is to protect your access to the marine resources you cherish and enjoy every day. CCA CAL consists of members spread across 7 local chapters in Southern California and growing every day.