What’s a CenCal?

  • CenCal

60 Years Later

By Carol Rose, CenCal Past President

This is history of CenCal, a time frame within my own history in the Council – 1976 to present. CenCal started in 1959, so it has a long history of ‘doing’ for divers. The Central California Council of Diving Clubs, Inc. is better known/AKA/DBA as CenCal. It is a north/central California recreational diver membership organization, a tax exempt, not for profit corporation formed in 1959.

But the question is, what is CenCal doing now and what has it done for me lately?

Current issues: abalone, nearshore fisheries, Marine Protected Areas, Artificial Reefs and the Marine Life Management /Protections Act. Many hours are spent by many persons at many meetings, writing letters and making contacts, so divers are represented and heard.

Abalone is always a key issue. The Abalone Management and Recovery Plan (AMRC), in part, sets limits on ‘take,’ and the 2012 heavy die off in Sonoma County reduced the population dramatically, and important regulatory changes were made. Now California is facing a perfect storm: warm water, sea urchin explosion, star fish die off and starving abalone.

CenCal sits on the RAAC, Recreational Abalone Advisory Committee, a state panel with authority to recommend use of abalone tag moneys and to evaluate suggested changes in the State Fish & Wildlife regulations on bag limit, daily take and so forth. In process right now is the creation of a FMP, Fishery Management Plan for red abalone. This Plan will update and mostly replace the AMRC; it will take through 2017 to finalize the Plan.

So what is CenCal good for?

It’s good for Access

Ever Dive? Carmel River Beach? The Monterey Land Use Plan wanted to ban divers from crossing the beach except at either end. Constant and persistent CenCal testimony to the Coastal Commission prevented access restriction.

Ever Dive? Lovers Point Cove? Pacific Grove passed an ordinance preventing diving in the Cove for 5 months each year, CenCal initiated successful litigation preventing the closure.

Ever Dive? Stillwater Cove on the 17 Mile Drive? You can thank CenCal for collecting the usage data and being persistent before the Coastal Commission. The result was not only access but bathrooms, parking and a pier.

Ever Dive? Monastery Beach? The Monterey Land Use Plan would have closed all parking or built parking on the far side of the highway – sometime. CenCal kept the parking open.

It’s good for information

Ever get a ticket for your inflatable boat? Some years ago the Coast Guard began ticketing – with every right – inflatable boats for many irregularities. CenCal has all the regulations on paper; created a brochure and sent it to all stores selling inflatables, all dive stores, all dive clubs, so boat owners now know!

CenCal worked for the Prop 132 Reserve Initiative banning inshore gill nets in Southern California and provided for 4 reserves. CenCal achieved locations for the new reserves with little impact on recreational diving.

On the Marine Resources front, it’s always good for abalone.

CenCal collected thousands of signatures opposing any commercial abalone fishery on the north coast. There is now a law against such a fishery. CenCal sits on the DFG Recreational Abalone Advisory Committee, and CenCal did not give up on action for an Abalone Stamp which now provides funds for enforcement and research for abalone.

In 1997 CenCal worked tirelessly to gain passage of SB463 which provided for the Abalone Stamp, closed recreational and commercial abalone harvest south of the Golden Gate Bridge (including off shore Islands) and provided for recovery of the abalone resource. The Bill passed and was signed.

For halibut

Halibut was under great pressure, and CenCal provided expertise at meetings to change the ‘experimental’ fishery demolishing the population, tearing up the bottom and wasting incredible amounts of ‘incidental catch.’

For lobster?

CenCal works with the other California Councils on lobster issues to benefit divers. Lobster season now opens a little earlier just for divers.

It’s good for competitive divers

For skin divers who want competition; for underwater hockey / rugby players who want to go to world championships. CenCal has all this too. These activities are entirely self funded without financial support from CenCal dues.

Kelp issues with the Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary were settled and without detriment to the dive community, but persistence, reason and logic pays off.

It’s good for education

CenCal has a annual college Scholarship, a $1000 grant given to a worthy California diver student each year.

CenCal has two web pages where members and other divers are able keep up on current issues and the upcoming calendar of dive events and activities.

  • cencal.org
  • cencalspearfishing.org deals exclusively with skin spearfishing.
    The committee has it’s own funds/funding – no dues or other CenCal general income applies.

If it sounds as if CenCal is a busy organization, it is. Keeping up with the legislature, Fish & Game, Parks & Rec, Monterey Bay Sanctuary, the Coastal Commission is a full time job, and it is all managed by volunteers. The council meets via phone conference in odd months on the last Wednesday, and all members and other divers are welcome. More help is really really needed. Can you help out? give us / me (707 343 7132) or croseusoa@aol.com – a call, whatever you can offer – lots of stuff can be done from home. More hands – lighter work.

And That’s a CenCal! and What It Does for Divers …