Sportfishing Progress Thanks to SAC
In 2014, the Mexican Government began implementing a number of policy changes regarding angler access, licensing and bag limits. In order to increase understanding and dialogue, the Sportfishing Association of California (SAC) led by President Ken Franke with Board approval, expanded SAC’s efforts to encourage ongoing communication and cooperation between the local governmental officials in selected cities in Baja and Mainland Mexico and sportfishing leaders.
Before arranging for their first trip, the SAC team visited Mazatlán and Cabo San Lucas; then in May of 2014, the team led by Captain Ken Franke, SAC President, and including Kenia Zamarripa, Director of Marketing and International Affairs; Alayna Siddall, Director of Science and Communications; along with the “Let’s Talk Hook-Up” crew which included Pete Gray and his sound engineer, Rick Cutler, (Hookup1090.com) traveled to the Marina Coral in Ensenada, BCN for their first formal event.
The panel included Bob Nelson, 2014 President of the Port of San Diego; Sharon Cloward, San Diego Port Tenants Association; Congressmen Scott Sherman; Captain Tim Ekstrom, Royal Star; Fito Espinoza, Dock master from Hotel Coral y Marina; Mariano Escobedo, International Relations, Baja California; Victor Ibañez, Secretary of Fisheries, SEPESCA BC, all on hand to answer questions from the call-in audience.
Phone lines were jammed with questions ranging from border crossing and travel safety to necessary paperwork required. San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer called in touching on the importance of border communities and establishing strong ties along with reliable channels of communication.
The two hours of the show flew by as the panel fielded many more questions and touched not only on sportfishing (very good!), but also on attractions, activities available (many), small boat launch availability and many other topics.
The reception by the local community and business leaders was overwhelmingly positive.
The high-profile members of the panel agreed that it is safe to travel to and visit Ensenada and the surrounding areas and the local business community welcomes tourists and anglers to their hotels and marinas. Proof that the message had resonated with the listeners and the public at large was demonstrated by the number of tour companies that soon resumed their below-the-border trips.
Satisfied with the results, SAC expanded the program in 2015 by hosting three trips: First, they visited Mazatlán in May, then they returned to Marina Coral in October and finally, they traveled to Los Cabos in early December.
Mazatlán, participants included: Dan Malcolm, Chairman of the Port of San Diego Board of Port Commissioners; Randa Coniglio, Executive Vice President for the Port of San Diego; Acting Harbor Police Chief Mark Stainbrook; Cloward, and Franke as well as the 1090 show team, Gray and Cutler.
Prior to the broadcast with the assistance of Juan Acereto, President of the Sportfishing Associacion of Sinaloa, the delegates met with Carlos Felton, Mayor of Mazatlán; Frank Cordova, Secretary of Tourism for the State of Sinaloa; Alfonso Gil Diaz, General Director of Integral Port Management of Mazatlán, as well as other members of the government of the Sinaloa State.
With the specific goal of establishing communications between the leadership of all the various local groups on a government and business level, subjects discussed included, “Why cruise ships were no longer stopping.” This raised concerns about passenger safety which resulted in a significant decline in local tourism. The visit included a tour of the city, its cruise ship terminal, and the public safety facilities of the Mazatlán Police Department.
“It was a delight to see how well the leadership of Mazatlán has renewed and revitalized this lovely city,” said Port of S. D. Chairman Malcolm. “The beaches, restaurants and hotels were immaculate, and the malecon had a lively atmosphere with artwork, fountains and palm trees. The Port of Mazatlán has all the facilities needed to serve cruise ships and visiting yachts. Most importantly, the people of Mazatlán were friendly and welcoming.”
“This Port is poised to restore its status as a marine recreation and cruise ship destination. It’s clean, safe and customer friendly,” Franke declared. “We were especially impressed with the measures taken to enhance public safety and ensure that visitors to Mazatlán have a safe experience to remember.”
During the show while answering the listeners’ questions and responding to comments, the panel observed that Mazatlán was revitalized, clean and safe, ready for business — especially for yachts and cruise ships.
According to the locals who participated in the show, it had the desired impact and by late summer many of the cruise ship companies had resumed service to this area. (Acereto, President of Sportfishing Associacion of Sinaloa, confirmed during the Los Cabos show later in December that there were four cruise liners in Mazatlán’s harbor at the same time.)
Next stop was Ensenada in October. Guests included Heidy Salum, Representative of the Secretary of Tourism of BC; Espinoza, Dock master at the Marina; Hector Rosas, Ensenada Delegate of the Secretary of Tourism BC; Paulina Zermeño, Commercial Manager at the Port of Ensenada; Ibañez; Captain Ekstrom and Cloward, along with several tour company coordinators.
The answers to questions of Border access and safety, the tourist relationship between San Diego and Mexico, and the excellent fishing off Northern Baja provided a unique prospective for listeners.
Again San Diego’s Mayor Kevin Faulconer called in during the show. He praised the efforts of both communities for their efforts in strengthening ties across the border and in fostering relationships that would be beneficial in the future for sportfishing as well as tourism.
Espinoza observed later, “The SAC team, the San Diego industry and the Governmental leaders were well received by their local counterparts across the border. They appreciated the opportunity to show off the many tourist attractions our community has to offer.”
Franke and his staff, Zamarripa and Siddall, along with Gray and Cutler of the Hookup 1090 radio show and Cloward representing the Port of S.D., arrived at hotel Pueblo Bonito Rosé in Cabo on Thursday, December 10, preceding the show scheduled for Saturday morning.
Hitting the ground running, they were confirming guests and preparing the script for Saturday morning when I caught up them that afternoon. Later, team member Acereto, from the Sportfishing Associacion of Sinaloa, (along with his family) arrived bringing special custom shirts he had made for the entire team, as well as flags for the event. Plans for the following day’s lunch which would include all local community and business leaders continued throughout dinner.
On Friday, lunch at Baja Cantina included: Franke; Zamarripa; Cloward; Andrés Córdova, Director of Fisheries of Baja California; Enrique Fernandez del Castillo, Harbor Master at Puerto Los Cabos; Minerva Saenz from Minerva’s Baja Tackle; Acereto; Jorge Tellez, Solmar Fleet; Carlos Narro, Pisces Sportfishing; Clicerio Mercado, Bisbee Tournaments; Gray, Cutler and me.
Franke opened the meeting, explaining that SAC’s goal was to promote the local sportfishing as well as all the businesses associated with it. Zamarripa translated the script for the two-hour show in Spanish. As lunch came to a close, many expressed their gratitude for the effort and expense that SAC and their team had put into the project.
The Royal Star had arrived at 4:45 a.m. from its multi-day trip, off-loading passengers including co-host Rick Maxa, who had hosted the Hookup 1090 trip along with Royal Star’s Captain Tim Ekstrom, who also joined the show panel.
A telephone call from Los Cabos Mayor Arturo de la Rosa kicked off the show. “Thank you for providing a forum for us to discuss our wonderful Mecca of Sportfishing,” de la Rosa began. “I can assure you with the help of many, Los Cabos has recovered from the damages of ‘Odile’ one year and three months after the event,” he continued. “As an angler myself, I’m delighted to say that we can welcome anglers to enjoy our sportfishing.”
The two hours passed quickly as Franke, Cloward, Córdova, Espinoza, Saenz, Acereto, and Ekstrom, along with Pablo Armenta Gutiérrez, representative in Los Cabos Tourism; Secretary of State, Tellez, Narro, Mercado, Steve Murphy, Pez Gato Marine Adventures, and Ari Kress, Boatyard, fielded questions and confided their personal and professional views of what Los Cabos offered to visiting anglers and tourists.
As Pete Gray signed off, there was a standing ovation for the panel, guests and SAC team. The consensus was that the “Los Cabos Story” had been “well told.”
Later over breakfast, the entire team was in a celebratory mood. “I think that we have made progress through the common respect that has been shown while sharing our ideas for the fisheries; we are helping each other to find a common ground with the people of Mexico that is not competitive,” Pete Gray added.
The Sportfishing Association of California, a non-profit organization, has woven a message that seems to have successfully resonated with community and business leaders as well as with the sportfishing associations in the various destination locations. Hopefully, this is a giant step toward restoring regional tourism and will facilitate job growth on both sides of the border.
Ken Franke summarized SAC’s 2015 effort. “A tremendous amount of positive dialogue has occurred. Strong relationships are being forged that hopefully will encourage all of us to work together for the betterment of sportfishing in both countries.”
Let’s Talk Hookup Recordings
Sat, Oct 3, 2015 Let’s Talk Hookup 7-8am- Live Fron The Hotel Coral in Ensenada
Sat, Oct 3, 2015 Let’s Talk Hookup 8-9am- Live Fron The Hotel Coral in Ensenada