VENTURA— As President of the Ventura County Commercial Fisherman’s Association (www.vccfa.org), I recently joined up with an educational group dedicated to teaching youth the sustainable practices of conservation and responsible fishing. Students of The Reel Guppy Outdoors, participated in a field trip to The White Seabass enhancement facility located in the Channel Islands Harbor.
The Reel Guppy Outdoors is an organization dedicated to providing a positive environment for youth using outdoor experiences emphasizing education, life-building lessons, leadership, stewardship, and team building. The White Seabass Enhancement Facility helps repopulate the White Seabass population of Southern California.
After welcoming the students, Lead Pen Operator, C.I, Harbor White Seabass Enhancement Facility, Frank Sullivan, described the responsibilities of volunteers that maintain this facility. Their responsibilities include daily feeding of the fish, cleaning the fish pens, and close monitoring and recording of observational data. The volunteer’s actions are crucial to the overall success of the program. The three netted fish pens hold thousands (over 8,500 currently) of juvenile white seabasses. The 6-to-10-inch white seabass swim in synchronicity.
Although the water temperature has been relatively cold, at 50 degrees F, the fish were active. The Reel Guppy Outdoor students got a chance to hand feed the fish, sprinkling fish meal pellets. Sullivan explained that he was taking notes on the fish’ reactions. Those notes give the facility the information needed to increase or decrease the amount of food for the fish. Along with feeding, the students had a chance to brush the nets, another daily practice done by volunteers. The net brushing helps keep the nets in good condition at the same time maintaining a clean, healthy environment for the fish.
Some other points of interest were explained, such as the current was strong this day, as evidenced by the nets pulling in a horizontal direction. The fish are set to be released within the next two months. An invitation will be sent out via The White Seabass Enhancement Program’s outreach program. More information can be viewed on their website. Volunteers for both The Reel Guppy Outdoors and The White Seabass Enhancement Facility showed a real passion for educating future anglers on the responsible practices of sustainable fishing and conservation efforts.
I enjoyed watching the education take place. It will be the efforts of organizations such as The Reel Guppy Outdoors and The White Seabass Enhancement Program, which will shape the future of fishermen into abiding by regulations and contributing to the success of fish species worldwide. I was truly inspired by the efforts by the volunteers in this effort to educate our youth on conservational efforts. As an added benefit, The Reel Guppies celebrated their 1-year Anniversary with a chocolate sheet cake.
Article by Dave Colker, President VCCFA (Ventura County Commercial Fisherman’s Association)