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Benefit to Help Marine Resources Effort

June 18, 1986|LINK MATHEWSON

The Pacific Region National Coalition for Marine Conservation (NCMC-PR) raised $120,000 Friday night at its seventh annual fund-raiser to support proper management of marine resources.

Visor caps and deck shoes among glittery gowns were the only immediate evidence of a preoccupation with the deep as 400 enjoyed Oceans Celebration '86 at the Irvine Marriott; honorary hosts were Buddy Ebsen and Merlin Olsen.

There were live and silent auction items worth $40,000, but most bidding interest was generated by an item entitling the buyer to a fishing position on one of 25 sportfishing yachts that will compete in the prestigious Tycoon/Fin-Nor North vs. South Billfish Tournament Aug. 16. The one-day annual event, also a major fund-raiser for NCMC, pits top sportfishing yachts berthed in harbors from Dana Point north against vessels and crews from Oceanside south.

Outgoing NCMC-PR president Jim Torre told the audience how he became involved with the group.

"I remember fishing off the Balboa Pier as a young boy and catching halibut, mackerel, sometimes albacore and tuna," Torre recalled. "In the early and middle '50s something seemed to be changing. The species were disappearing. By the end of the '60s, I knew there was a change and a big problem through mismanagement (of the ocean)."

Then "Harry Westover, a dedicated coalition member said, 'Come on Jim, we're going to Sacramento to change all this.' "

Changes have been made, according to dinner chairman Dewayne Brown.

One of the more important, Brown said, stemmed from NCMC's campaign for closer monitoring of gillnetting by commercial fishermen. That method, Brown said, traps large numbers of fish--both legal and illegal--in mile-long drifting nets. "There is now a moratorium on the issuance of new gill net permits, thanks to our efforts," Brown said. "We want to work with the commercial fishermen to make sure there're enough (fish) for everybody."

Incoming board chairman Johnnie Crean said, "Fish are public property, and scientific evidence should determine the equipment used and quotas set."

NCMC-PR also sponsored 1985 legislation that encourages development of artificial reefs to increase ocean fish habitat.

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