On Saturday, August 10, recreational fishermen, professional fishing guides, fisheries managers and top marine scientists will gather in Southern California to exchange ideas on increasing the effectiveness of “catch & release” angling. This free, open-to-the public event is being held in conjunction with the summer-long Sanctuary Classic fishing/photo contest and is a joint effort of The Sportfishing Conservancy, The National Marine Fishery Service and the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.
This latest Best Practices Workshop follows similar recent successful events in Georgia, Florida and Massachusetts. Like these events, the Southern California workshop will focus on popular regional sport fisheries and how recreational anglers can do a better job of making sure the fish they release survive. “Recent statistics indicate that recreational anglers across the country release the majority of the fish they catch today,” said Tom Raftican, President of The Sportfishing Conservancy, a non-profit sport fishing/conservation organization. “With this in mind, it’s easy to see how great an impact it could have if we all did a better job of releasing fish alive and healthy.”
West Coast anglers fishing around the Channel Islands and across Southern California are accustomed to dealing with a variety of regulations – ranging from closed areas to species-specific closures to minimum size limits. This translates to a wide range of fish being released for a variety of reasons, in addition to fish released by personal choice. In addition, the 2013 change in the minimum size limit for kelp bass and barred sand bass from 12 inches to 14 inches has significantly increased the number of these popular sport fish being released. “Private boats and party boats alike are releasing more and more bass, along with rockfish and other coastal and island species,” said Raftican. “It’s important to all of us that as many of these fish as possible live, thrive and breed, so we can enjoy a robust recreational fishery in the future.”
The August 10 Best Practices Workshop will be held from 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Channel Islands Boating Center, 3880 Bluefin Circle (at the corner of Bluefin Circle and Harbor Blvd.). It will include presentations by The Sportfishing Conservancy, the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and Dr. Chris Lowe from California State University, Long Beach. Perhaps more importantly, recreational fishermen will be asked for their input. Although the workshop will cover a wide variety of topics, tools and techniques, Dr. Lowe’s studies on rockfish and recommendations for successfully recompressing and releasing these bottom dwelling species will be a highlight of the workshop. The Channel Islands are well known for excellent catches of rockfish, and are frequented by private boaters, charter operations and party boats. Among other things, this workshop will open people’s eyes to the fact that rockfish — if properly handled and returned to depth — have an excellent survival rate. Event organizers are working to secure additional guest presenters, as well.
The Channel Islands Workshop will provide a complimentary continental breakfast in the morning, as well as lunch for those in attendance.
In addition to presentations, there will be ample opportunity for group and individual discussions where fishermen can share their own techniques and tools for successful catch and release fishing. “This event will emphasize audience participation and an open exchange of ideas and information. Our goal is to bring scientists together with recreational fishermen to talk with them — not at them,” added Raftican.
This workshop is also in support of the ongoing 2013 Sanctuary Classic, a free, summer-long fishing photo contest designed to get families on the water to enjoy responsible recreational fishing in America’s National Marine Sanctuaries. Running through Labor Day, the Classic provides valuable weekly prizes for anglers who register online and submit photos of fish caught in any National Marine Sanctuary or adjacent waters. The popular Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary is an important part of this event.
Future events like these are being planned for 2013 near National Marine Sanctuaries around the country, each designed around regional experts, angler groups and specific fish survival issues. For more information and details about the Southern California Best Practices Fishing Workshop at Channel Islands Harbor, call the Sportfishing Conservancy at (805) 895-3000 or visit www.sportfishingconservancy.org.