California program offers fishing trips for veterans

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Volunteer Larry Brown celebrates a successful catch with veterans aboard the sportfishing boat Betty O. Doctors and recreational therapists say a fishing program for veterans is among the most popular recreational opportunities for them in Southern California.

Volunteer Larry Brown celebrates a successful catch with veterans aboard the sportfishing boat Betty O. Doctors and recreational therapists say a fishing program for veterans is among the most popular recreational opportunities for them in Southern California.

Volunteer Larry Brown offers veterans fishing excursions as a form of therapy, as well as a way to teach conservation.

Brown sponsors a veterans fishing program that is also supported by the Los Angeles Rod and Reel Club, Marina Del Rey Anglers and the California State Coastal Conservancy.

The program gives veterans struggling with personal challenges a day of recreation on the ocean and an opportunity to learn about marine stewardship.

To enhance the program, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries is designing a sea stewardship handbook that describes pressing issues facing our ocean — such as marine debris, polluted runoff and ocean acidification — and seeks to explains how individuals can make a difference, NOAA said.

The coastal conservancy partially funds the program to help fulfill its mission of increasing public access to coastal resources and educating the public about them.

Sponsors offer the trips in partnership with the Los Angeles Veterans Administration Hospital and the CalVet Veterans Home program. Brown said doctors and recreational therapists say the fishing program is one of the most popular recreational opportunities for veterans in Southern California.

Zach Schakner, West Coast recreational fisheries coordinator for NOAA Fisheries, also noted that the program meets an objective in NOAA Fisheries’ Recreational Fishing Implementation Plan. The plan calls for promoting fishing opportunities for children, veterans, anglers with disabilities and others who otherwise may never experience the fun of getting on the water and catching a fish.

“This program and those like it not only provide participants direct and enriching opportunities with nature, but they also greatly increase awareness of important marine stewardship and ethical fishing practices,” Schakner said in a statement.

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