Pair of memorials scheduled for abalone diver Randy Fry

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Posted by on August 27, 2004 at 14:42:24:

In Reply to: *****Memorial Services for Randy Fry***** posted by on August 24, 2004 at 02:16:02:

By Nels Johnson, IJ reporter

They'll scatter Randy Fry's ashes off Kibesillah Rock on the Mendocino County coast tomorrow afternoon, returning him to the water in which died at 50.

Fry was killed instantly two weeks ago when he was attacked by a great white shark while abalone diving near the rock north of Fort Bragg.

Fry, a top fisheries lobbyist, was West Coast director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance, a 90,000-member national group that boosts sportfishing across the country.

A burial at sea hosted by the fishing alliance is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. tomorrow at Noyo Fishing Center in Fort Bragg, where crowds of fishermen will convene before boarding partyboats to attend the ceremony. Private boaters also will make the 14-mile run to the site. Others may travel up the coast and watch the offshore services from a bluff. A barbecue caps activities in the evening.

Another memorial for Fry, this one hosted by the Coastside Fishing Club, is scheduled at 4 p.m. Sept. 11 in Half Moon Bay.

Fry, an expert diver and scuba instructor who gave up real estate and contracting to work full-time as a fisheries lobbyist, was a familiar figure in harbors up and down the coast. He was a personable political organizer, a visionary passionately intent on mobilizing California's diverse fishing community as a unified force.

He believed fishermen must align and flex economic and political clout to combat formidable forces that want to shut down recreational fishing off the coast.

He went to bat for sportfishermen at scores of meetings of government agencies that regulate fishery issues, a job that took him far afield from home in Auburn as he traveled from San Diego to Seattle, Sacramento to Monterey.

His death prompted an outpouring of grief in fishing circles, and thousands of dollars were quickly raised to pay credit card debt he mounted while on the road fighting for the right to fish.

Randy Fry was a friend of mine and many others. In fact, he made a point of making friends with just about every fisherman he met, both commercial and recreational, as he diligently worked to develop alliances.

We talked at length many times over the past two years as he rose to prominence as a dauntless sportfishing activist in California. He had a knack for explaining the detail as well as the broader implications of regulatory proposals and programs. He was able to cut to the chase, clarify issues and put them in context, skills appreciated by all those trying to navigate the stormy, white-cap world of fishery politics.

We talked just the other day about a variety of issues, including the role fishermen have as the marine environment's most important conservationists. We all understand that if there are no fish, there will be no fishermen.

At the same time, he noted, decisions on managing sustainable fisheries must be based on scientific data, not ideological hysteria.

And California's 2.5 million recreational anglers, who pack a $5 billion annual economic wallop - 10 times more than the commercial fishery which takes 90 percent of the fish - must have a seat at the head of the table.

Randy Fry was a warrior, a champion for fishermen everywhere. His loss is incalculable, his legacy enduring.

Aloha, Randy.

Salute Randy Fry by joining the Recreational Fishing Alliance, P.O. Box 98263, Washington, D.C., 20090.

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