Updated at 11:30 p.m. with Garcia comment
Public support is swelling to keep Long Beach Sportfishing open, as the Port of Long Beach has issued the 42-year-old business an eviction notice so that a city fire boat may take its place.
Long Beach Sportfishing owner Mike Redlew said in an interview on PFO Radio that the port could not pick a worse spot. “Locating a fire boat this far back in the harbor [where there's] a no wake rule is ludicrous,” Redlew explained.
The waterfront of small businesses, anglers and charter operation owners has been abuzz for days with what's been dubbed “Garcia’s Goof.” That's after the Long Beach 1st District City Councilman and Vice Mayor Robert Garcia, who supports removing Long Beach Sportfishing form the waterfront to instead locate a fire boat where, many believe, it will be ineffectual.
Tuesday night, Garcia said that while he is in favor of a new firehouse, he has asked the Port of Long Beach to work with Long Beach Sportfishing to see if there was a workable compromise. "We just met not too long ago," said Garcia.
Redlew said he recently posed a hypothetical question to newly appointed Long Beach Fire Chief Mike DuRee, who has not responded in a week to Phil Friedman Outdoors (PFO) call.
“I asked him (DuRee) what if there was an explosion in the port and men and women were launched into the water. In an emergency, would the fire boat throttle up to save lives despite the no-wake policy in plae to protect ships and boats there? Redlew said that Chief DuRee said they would not throttle up, and that they would adhere to the no wake policy. “I couldn’t believe that was his answer but there it was,” said Redlew.
It was not theoretical.
On October 30, 2007 A recreational boat exploded while heading into a shipyard at the Port of Long Beach, injuring two men, according to Redlew. He said he was an eyewitness to this incident and could see one of the men flying through the air landing about 40 feet from the dock where the explosion happened.
There is a no wake rule in effect to protect adjacent business’s such as Pacific Tow Boats and Gamble Marine where there are, at times, multi-million dollar yachts that could be impacted if the fire boat needws to throttle up in case of an emergency.
Redlew says that the City of Long Beach assistant director of real estate Gail Wasil acknowledged that the proposed new venue for a fire boat was not ideal but it was the best available.
Meeting and Free Harbor Tours Thursday
On Thursday, the Westside Project Area Counsel will be holding a meeting at Long Beach Sportfishing at 6pm with all the interested parties. The meeting is an attempt to get all the issues out in front of the public as well as allow for the public to comment.
There will be free harbor cruises for all before the meeting in an attempt to educate and inform the public about all the issues involved and to show just how far back in the harbor the fire boat would be located. The free rides take off at 4:30 p.m. and return at 5:30. This is a great way to show your children the inner workings of Long Beach Harbor, to see giant container ships, and to understand more about how one of the busiest ports in the world operates. Rides are on a first come, first served basis, so come early to get a spot.
Redlew points out that there have been employees at the adjacent Berth 55 Fish Market, also being evicted, who have been working there for decades. Then there are the fishing boats, the hard working crews, the magnet that Long Beach Sportfishing offers tourism to Long Beach. “What are all these people to do? Where are they to go, asked Redlew.
Nine-year old Hector Medina from Wilmington will be celebrating his 10th birthday on Thursday and he wouldn’t think of being anywhere else to celebrate it than Long Beach Sportfishing. Hector and his 11-year old brother Manuel come from a lower income family and were introduced to fishing by the Wallace Air Cargo Group/PFO Youth Fishing Program at Long Beach Sportfishing. A little over a year ago, the brothers knew nothing about fishing or the sea.
On a recent trip, one long time angler was explaining to the boys that orcas or killer whales were members of the whale family. Hector politely interjected, “orcas are members of the dolphin family in fact they are the largest of the dolphins.”
“Mis hijos have learned so much here,” said orgullosa madre Gabriela Medina. “Long Beach Sportfishing has opened new doors for my children. They now dream of being a captain of a ship someday and have a hunger for more knowledge of the sea.”
Medina points out that the proximity of the landing, the free parking and the great staff who mentor her children make Long Beach Sportfishing the only place her children can fish out of. “Paying parking may not sound like a big thing to someone from the port but for some of us with very little money, it means everything.
Long Beach Sportfishing is located at 555 Pico Ave., Long Beach just off the 710 freeway. For more information on this Thursdays events, please call 562 432 8993.
PFO Radio will be broadcasting live from Long Beach Sportfishing from 8-10 p.m. this Thursday following the meeting. The phil Friedman Outdoors show will not only feature the latest fishing news but will also delve deeper into the Berth 55 controversy with in depth interviews and much more.