By Gene Kira, Sept. 3, 2001, as published in Western Outdoor News:
There was good news this week, maybe very good news, for conservation, sport fishing, and Baja California. This could be important stuff, so let's get it on the record:
In ceremony held at 7 p.m. last Thursday evening in Mexico City, President Vicente Fox, took a major step toward recognizing the importance of sport fishing and tourism when he personally appointed Luis Coppola Joffroy to a newly-created seat within the National Fisheries Council that reports at the cabinet level.
This is the first time that sport fishing has been directly represented in Mexico City, and it is a major step in federal recognition of Baja California's fast growing tourist economy. Coppola is a son of Evangelina Joffroy and Luis Coppola Bonillas, who established the historic Hotel Los Arcos fishing resort in La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico, in 1952, and today, he operates the family's Hotel Finisterra in Cabo San Lucas.
Coppola will join colleagues from the commercial fishing and aquaculture industries to inform and advise the Secretary of Agriculture on matters relating to sport fishing and tourism. He has been charged with establishing a network of representatives throughout the country by the end of September.
The appointment was announced during a private gathering of about 35 people held at the offices of the Secretary of Agriculture, during which President Fox declared that henceforth, recreational fishing would be a priority of the federal government--on par with aquaculture and commercial fishing. The ceremony was attended by Secretary of Agriculture Leticia Navarro and Secretary of Tourism Javier Usabiaga, and their top aides. Also present were high-ranking officials of the Mexican Navy, who pledged logistical support for any new information-gathering and enforcement measures that may result from the council's recommendations.
Immediately preceding the ceremony, the group had held a two-hour planning and strategy session in the offices of the Secretary of Agriculture.
Also named to the council was Julio Berdegue Aznar, of Mazatlan, the well-known marine biologist, who has extensive experience in both commercial fishing and tourism, the latter as the developer of the El Cid Mega Resort in Mazatlan.
Berdegue is also executive president of the active and influential Fundacion Para La Conservacion De Los Picudos, A.C. (Foundation For The Conservation Of Billfish) which was established in Cabo San Lucas in 1993 by Luis Bulnes Molleda of the Solmar Suites Hotel. Through a series of unpublicized, high-level meetings held in Cabo San Lucas, La Paz, and Mexico City during the past several years, the foundation has argued that the federal government should recognize sport fishing and conservation on the National Fisheries Council.
Other key members of the Foundation are Vice President Luis Coppola Joffroy (newly named to the national council); Enrique Fernandez del Castillo, who is also vice president of the Asociacion Mexicana de Marinas Turisticas A.C. (Association of Recreational Marinas of Mexico) and the Director General of Marina San Lucas; Jesus "Chuy" Valdez, well-known owner of the Hotel Buena Vista Beach Resort in Los Barriles (East Cape); and Guillermo Alvarez Aguilar, who is the Foundation's Executive Director in La Paz.
The members of the Foundation are committed both financially and personally to conservation in Baja California, and they are to be congratulated for the historic appointment of Luis Coppola in Mexico City.
But, what's also important to remember here is that the financial clout and political influence that made this appointment possible is the direct result of thousands of us little ol' tourists going down to Baja and spending a few bucks while we're foolin' around fishing, and maybe popping a few cervezas.
It's a pretty tough job, but the next time you set a hook or raise a Corona salute, I know you'll join me in saying that we anglers are willing to do whatever it takes to kick butt in Mexico City!
(Related Baja California, Mexico, articles and reports may be found at Mexfish.com's main Baja California information page. See weekly fishing news, photos, and reports from the major sportfishing vacation areas of Mexico including the Baja California area in "Mexico Fishing News.")