There’s Nothing a Good Day of Surfing Can’t Cure

Article originally published by; written by Beau Flemister.

Photo by @Stretch922

Photo by @Stretch922

When I was young, my dad had one of those classic, working man’s Toyota Tacoma carpenter trucks — long-bed brimming with tools, cords, hoses, generators, compressors, discarded Diet Mountain Dew cans and various ladders lodged precariously upon custom welded pipe racks. He simultaneously both loved that truck to death and treated it like shit. But I’d know that when I would hear him whistling a tune as he pulled into the driveway, there were waves and he was going surfing. If I did not hear that shrill, happy whistle, he was not surfing.

I also remember that the tailgate and rear dash were covered with an array of still-breathing and since-shuddered surf company stickers, most of which I was responsible for applying on said-tailgate. There was one sticker that always struck me, though. It was a rectangular message from an old tail grip company called Tractop that read: There’s nothing a good day of surfing can’t cure.

I often wondered about that statement many times. The “nothing” part seemed so bold, so uncompromisingly certain. It seemed like hyperbole to me, even as a 14-year-old grom. But also, a part of me fantasized that maybe, just maybe it was true. That surfing could be that powerful. Like a remedy. Like an antidote. Like a vaccine for the most profound ailments.

Before surfing, the sea as a place of healing — with therapeutic functions and usages — is nothing too entirely recent. Of course, that all came centuries after a fierce fear of the place. Greek and Mayan myths, pirate stories of sea monsters and Biblical verse pretty much unanimously warned everyone: Stay the f–k out of that vicious, churning aquatic wilderness. At least, in the Western world. Polynesians, Pacific Islanders, and other wayfaring cultures, however, didn’t seem to share those fears.

But by the late-16th Century, English doctors started prescribing cold water to help jumpstart the body, or at least shock it out of melancholy, “hysteria,” and other maladies of the time. Cold water turned into cold seawater, and by mid-18th Century, European docs were prescribing beach days and ingesting pints of saltwater. Seaside spas and resorts began to pop up and by 1944 The Journal of the American Medical Association promoted the trilogy of sea, sun and air for a range of illnesses.

And the surfing part? Well, these days dozens of organizations and non-profits have created programs promoting nature, ocean therapy and surfing to ease symptoms in a number of conditions from autism to PTSD. The Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation in South Bay, LA, for instance, has had an Ocean Therapy program for over 15 years now. This very program has helped both vets suffering from PTSD and at-risk youth from local shelter facilities. Mostly, through hopping up on a board and learning to ride waves…

If you’re a recovering addict/rehabbing…

For some, the traditional model — a rehab facility or even halfway house — might work for recovering addicts and outpatients, but for many, they’d probably appreciate a more creative, holistic, outdoorsy option. Many substance abusers often return to abusive behavior because they couldn’t connect with any of the activities their treatment facilities provided.

Enter groups like Oceans Global, an organization dedicated to helping individuals find peace of mind, maintain sobriety, and create healthy lifestyles through therapeutic water-based activities. Founded and run by avid watermen, Oceans Global offers half/full/multi day camps in California for residential recovery houses with programs providing experiences like: Surfing, Stand-Up Paddle Boarding, Beach Walks & Clean-Up, Fishing Trips, Introduction to Scuba/Free-Diving and more…

To read the article in full, click over to

15 Year Old Fish Discovered in Oceans Global 2018 Spearfishing Tournament

A white sebass born and raised at Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute’s (HSWRI) Leon Raymond Hubbard Jr. Marine Fish Hatchery in 2003 was turned in by spearfisherman Joe Farlo in April 2018. The submission of the white seabass head by Farlo coincided with the 2018 Kirk McNulty White Seabass Spearfishing Classic, which requires spearos to submit their heads to qualify for the tournament. The 15 year old fish is HSWRI’s second oldest (The oldest fish to be recaptured was caught the same year. More on that below.) fish to be recaptured. The tagged fish managed to travel roughly 80 miles from its time of release in 2003 from the Carlsbad hatchery to its location of capture in 2018.

Joe farlo with second oldest HSWRI tagged white seabass

Joe farlo with second oldest HSWRI tagged white seabass

Historically, the majority of recaptured heads (with wire tags) have come from commercial fisheries and those numbers have proven to be low by some critics. With the inception of the Kirk McNulty tournament, Oceans Global wanted to help validate whether the HSWRI program is actually beneficial. Due to the tournament, more white seabass being caught in recreational areas throughout California would have their heads submitted back to HSWRI. Five years into the Kirk McNulty tournament; the first three being optional to turn in heads with the most recent two years mandating head submissions. HSWRI has received roughly 40 heads from the Oceans Global backed tournament so far. With 2018 providing our first recapture. Oceans Global is looking to increase overall awareness of the “Save your white seabass head” program beyond the annual tournaments two-month span.

Joe Farlo, Mayor of redondo Beach and Oceans Global’s Sophia neveu at the King Harbor White Sea Bass Grow out

Joe Farlo, Mayor of redondo Beach and Oceans Global’s Sophia neveu at the King Harbor White Sea Bass Grow out

Additionally, In January of 2018, kayak angler Greg Barnicoat caught a tagged white seabass in Torrance that would become HSWRI’s oldest fish to be recaptured in the program. The 46.5 pound and 52 inch long white seabass caught in 145 feet of water originated from a spawn in August of 1997 and released near Dana Point in February of 1998. Barnicoat volunteers at the King Harbor white seabass grow out in Redondo Beach, which made him well aware of the potential for a tag, so naturally he turned in the head. Every time HSWRI rears a batch of white seabass, each fish receives a coded wire tag that identifies its history. The magnetically encoded tags are scanned to reveal whether they are holding data. 

White seabass Encoded Tag

White seabass Encoded Tag

Under the watchful eye of the Ocean Resources Enhancement and Hatchery Program (OREHP), HSWRI runs a white seabass hatchery in Carlsbad, which distributes juvenile seabass to grow out pens spread throughout California. The program is administered by the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) which is largely funded by recreational anglers through the Ocean Enhancement Stamp. As proven by the size of fish being submitted and verbal reports from spearos there has been a consistent increase in the once dwindling white seabass numbers.

Greg Barnicoat with oldest hswri tagged Whie seabass

Greg Barnicoat with oldest hswri tagged Whie seabass

It’s our hope that we will see increased submissions proving the value of this longstanding program. Ultimately, our priority is keeping an eye on our oceans and ensuring a well balanced, respectful approach to harvesting fish from it’s waters.

The Inertia: "Why Spearfishing Isn’t All Just Blood and Guts"

Original article appeared in The Inertia April 11, 2017

It’s counterintuitive to think of spearfishermen as conservationists. After all, at the heart of the sport lies the hunting and killing of aquatic animals. There’s something undeniably primal about the entire process. However, as we’ve seen throughout history, it’s entirely possible to kill a creature while maintaining the utmost respect for it and its natural habitat. And that’s exactly what modern day recreational fishermen and watermen aim to do. In fact, these underwater hunters are generally at the forefront of the marine conservationist movement. They spend so much time in the ocean that it feels like a second home to them; one they are constantly fighting to protect.

When the general public thinks of recreational fishermen they often conjure up images of folks standing on a boat or dock, holding up a dead, bloody fish, while smiling about the life they just claimed. There is definitely a sense of pride and satisfaction derived from killing a prized fish. Yet, the environmentally conscious fishermen earn the right to feel that pride. They aren’t savagely ripping through the ocean looking for their next kill. They’re finding new ways to respect, maintain, and replenish marine habitats, using their sport as a platform to raise awareness.

Take Bill Shedd for instance. He’s the president of the American Fish Tackle Company (AFTCO) and the son of Milt and Peggie Shedd, co-founders of the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute (HSWRI). The HSWRI, along with AFTCO, have been committed to protecting our oceans and nurturing sustainable fishing practices since the 60s. AFTCO has actually donated 10% of their annual profits to this cause since 1973. In the words of Shedd, “there is no other tackle and clothing company who has done more for the ocean than AFTCO and the Shedd family.” It’s just one instance of fishermen taking an active role in securing a future for a part of our environment that we all rely upon so much.

That’s the major distinction between recreational and commercial fishing. The former is for sport and nourishment while the latter is purely for profit. And those that fish for profit are far less interested in the ethical use of our oceans. In our capitalistic society, businesses are expected to churn a profit by whatever means necessary. That creates a slippery slope to overfishing, pollution, and a complete disregard for sustainability and marine life as a whole.

“The problems happen when you have large scale commercial interests taking all they can from the oceans,” says CEO of Gannet Dive Company, Garo Hachigian. As a diver and member of the spearfishing community, Garo understands how important fish are as a source of nutrition for the entire planet. However, most large-scale seafood businesses don’t realize how finite marine life can be. As he states, “we need to figure out a way to feed the world without destroying it.” And demonstrating ecologically principled ways of fishing is a necessary start.

Spearfishermen have to find ways to thrive in an inherently unwelcoming environment. Unlike land hunters or commercial fishermen, spearfishers definitely do not have the upper hand. They have to hold their breath (sometimes for up to 2-3 minutes straight), while swimming in cold and murky waters. They can’t smell, their hearing is practically useless, and their visibility is severely impaired. On top of all that, these underwater hunters are usually seeking out elusive creatures that are perfectly adapted to their environments. It requires patience, years of experience, and an incredibly fine-tuned skill-set to catch even a single prized fish.

This is why spearfishing is intrinsically sustainable. Even if spearfishers didn’t have an ounce of care for conservation, these physical limitations would automatically restrict their environmental impact. A commercial fishing vessel can cause more damage in a single outing than a spearfisher could ever dream to cause in multiple years underwater. John Park, an active spearfisher and owner of Fish 101, says “most dives, [he] never even pulls the trigger.” This is the case with the majority of spearfishers.

Many recreational fishermen are members of clubs and nonprofits like the International Underwater Spearfishing Association (IUSA), Long Beach Neptunes and LA Fathomiers. These groups work both locally and internationally to advocate and facilitate the most ecologically friendly spearfishing possible. They also work side-by-side with national organizations like the Ocean Resources Enhancement and Hatchery Program (OREHP) and HSWRI. The open dialogue between spearfishermen and scientists is an increasingly important facet of the sport and the marine conservationist movement.

Again, it’s not intuitive to think of recreational fishermen as scientific researchers. Yet, by spending so much time embedded in marine habitats, spearfishermen are often some of the first observers to recognize subtle and potentially dangerous shifts in the environment’s health. Even without any scientific training, these divers instinctively understand when a species of fish or their respective habitats appear damaged. By reporting these changes to actual marine biologists, spearfishermen act like de facto field agents for hugely important environmental research.

Both John Park and Garo Hachigian do their part to promote eating locally. As Park notes, “local, seasonable, and sustainable goes hand-in-hand with freedive spearfishing.” And Hachician says that he only eats local fish that he catches. In fact, the most gratifying parts of spearfishing involve the act of providing sustenance for oneself, rather than finding trophy fish to brag about.

Consumers often neglect or don’t realize the true environmental impact and extent of the the carbon footprint of imported food. By advocating locally sourced diets, spearfishermen aim to improve local economies, boost small businesses, decrease our overall reliance on other countries, and make a serious dent in the fight for our planet. As an added bonus, eating locally creates a newfound respect for local ecologies, which in turn fosters environmental awareness. It all adds to an ever-improving balance between utilizing our natural resources and doing our part to help maintain them.

That delicate give-and-take is further improved with the annual Kirk McNulty White Seabass Spearfishing Classic and the Jack White Seabass Open. These spearfishing tournaments both contribute to the HSWRI and its affiliate, the OREHP, and they both work to increase environmental activism while promoting healthy and sustainable ways to utilize and enjoy our oceans.

Both tournaments mandate that contestants donate their fish heads to research, while the profits from the Kirk McNulty Classic are given directly to HSWRI and the King Harbor Ocean Enhancement Foundation. OREHP and the HSWRI have been at the forefront of the scientific study and practice of fish population replenishment since the 1980’s. While the donations from each contest are relatively small, they go a long way toward helping these scientists develop new ways to give back to the ocean.

The tournaments feature spearfishermen of all ages and skill levels. Anyone with a desire to fish in a sustainable way while spreading the seeds of activism is welcome to register.

So while it might not be inclined to think of spearfishermen as conservationists, the two definitely go hand-in-hand. Anyone who spends enough time underwater, observing the marine life while stretching their physical limitations, is going to develop a deep yearning to protect what’s at hand. And what’s at hand is a bountiful mother ocean.

Editor’s Note: This feature was co-authored by Rhett McNulty and Stephen Roth of

The Inertia: "How Spearfishing Evolved from Hunting to a Sport Leading the Conservation of Marine Environments"

Article originally appeared in The Inertia on March 7, 2018

Spearfishing is older than civilization itself. It’s one of the earliest known methods of catching a truly fundamental food source. Without fish, the growth and development of the human species would have been severely stunted. And while other means of fishing have been known for millennia, spearfishing has played a major role in humanity’s relationship with marine life.

The concept of spearfishing as an actual sport didn’t really surface until the early 20th century. Before then, a spearfisher wasn’t an athlete. He (or she) was a hunter in the traditional sense of the word. It was all about providing nutrients. Although to be fair, the concept of bragging rights can also be traced back to hunter-gatherer societies.

It wasn’t until divers in the Mediterranean began crafting innovative fins, masks, and snorkels that underwater hunting became recreational. It was around this time that the speargun was first introduced. Much like land-based recreational hunting, spearfishing quickly turned into a sport focused on using a gun to catch the biggest possible prize. Jay Riffe, legendary spearfisher and founder of Riffe International Inc., notes that “with bigger, more powerful spearguns, there is an increased desire to land bigger, better fish.” Riffe has witnessed firsthand a surge of new spearos taking up a sport that used to be fairly unrecognized.

Southern Californian frogmen like Jay Riffe, Jack Prodanovich, Wally Potts, and Bob Meistrell expanded American recognition of the sport throughout the 40s, 50s, and into the 60s. They ventured further and deeper than those that only thought of diving as a “hobby”. They pushed spearfishing beyond the realm of sport and transformed it into a way of life. By developing and designing Americanized improvements on European equipment and spending endless hours in the water, these fishermen helped foster a heightened love for the ocean and its seemingly endless offerings.

However, therein lied a major issue. Back then, the oceans appeared to be a bottomless bucket. The competitive elements of spearfishing led underwater hunters to focus primarily on catching large quantities of fish with less regard for sustainability. And while natural conservation was a widely-accepted necessity in the mid-20th century, the effects of pollution and overfishing were far less of a concern than they are today. Riffe remembers a time when he and his fellow spearos would “target reef fish and enjoy a healthy quantity.” Nowadays, these fishermen are advocates for a much more selective type of fishing.

In more recent times we’ve started to see an entirely different attitude toward spearfishing and marine-life in general. These days competitive spearfishing actively seeks to improve and restore depleted and mistreated underwater environments. As Riffe notes, “the oceans seem to have become a little smaller.” He advocates for a more selective and sustainable approach to the sport. After all, most fishermen would like to see future generations be able to take part in their practice. In Riffe’s words, spearos should always “fish for the future.”

Sure, it might seem like helping fish populations could never go hand in hand with hunting them. But when done responsibly and with the proper amount of respect for the water, a spearfishing competition can provide valuable awareness and a deepened understanding of humanity’s impact on our beloved ocean.

This is why Damien Salerno, owner of the James & Joseph spearfishing shop, did all that he could to help establish the Jack White Seabass Open in honor of the late legend Jack Prodanovich. Salerno’s shop is currently a sponsor of both the Jack and the Kirk McNulty White Seabass Spearfishing Classic. As an avid spearfisher and industry professional, Salerno is very familiar with the positive impact that the local recreational community can have on the environment. He personally derives most of his satisfaction from the sport by being able to “catch [his] own food.”

Nowadays, there’s a concerted effort to make spearfishing less about bragging rights given to whoever can catch the biggest fish. It’s becoming more about building a community and culture of respect, hunting conservatively, and giving back to the ocean. And this is exactly the type of mentality that Skip Hellen and Joe Farlo are attempting to promote as members of the board of directors for the International Underwater Spearfishing Association.

As a member of the board, Farlo and Hellen both voted to stop giving divers record-based awards for catching critically large species of fish. This was a fairly controversial decision because the vote involved fish that weren’t necessarily endangered. As Farlo notes, “we’re making a statement by making them ineligible.” That statement suggests that all humans need to think a few steps ahead when interacting with our oceanic neighbors. It’s an active game of balance and requires a concerted effort to think about upcoming generations. As a lover of marine life and a father of four soon-to-be spearfishers, Farlo is clearly considering the future of the ocean.

And that brings us back to the Kirk McNulty White Seabass Spearfishing Classic. The tournament is an ecologically friendly contest that honors the legacy of Kirk McNulty. The tournament advocates for selective hunting and seeks to spread awareness of sustainable uses of our oceans. This year, the Kirk McNulty Classic runs until April 30th and a $29.20 entry fee is required prior to spearing a fish. The $29.20 number represents the costs that it takes to raise, tag, and release two white seabass according to Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute (HSWRI). Clark McNulty, one of the organizers of the tournament says, “We wanted there to be a direct correlation between the registration fee of the tournament and the cause we are supporting. Participants can feel good that each of them are reintroducing life back into our ecosystem.”

These tournaments also feature a healthy range of age and skill-level for their competitors. Oceans Global, the host of the Kirk McNulty Classic, recommends always diving with a partner, no matter how many years of experience you have. This is the 5th annual tournament to memorialize Kirk and the respect he had for the ocean. The White Seabass is the prize of both tournaments due to its elusive nature and sensitivity to changes in light and sound. In short, it is an extremely difficult fish to catch, making it all the more interesting. This goes hand-in-hand with Jay Riffe’s comments about shooting for “quality over quantity”. It’s a quality fish that takes patience and dedication to catch. While its populations have suffered in past decades, the competitive and sustainable fishing of the White Seabass raise awareness to the fishing industry as a whole and ends up doing far more good than harm.

The HSWRI, along with the Ocean Resources Enhancement and Hatchery Program (OREHP), has been at the forefront of experimental hatchery science and White Seabass replenishment since the early 80s. Breeding, raising, and releasing fish requires sophisticated infrastructure and understanding of the biological and ecological implications involved. The HSWRI needs support and your participation in these competitions will truly make an impact.

The OREHP, with which the HSWRI is partnered, is a global model for fish stocking programs and the only operation of its kind on the West Coast of North America. They focus on breeding and raising White Seabass until they are juveniles. The fish are then distributed to 13 grow-out centers up and down the West Coast. These grow-out centers raise the fish until they are ready to be released into the wild.

In 1982, the OREHP produced the first experimental release of 2,000 White Seabass in Mission Bay, California. By December of 2006, they had released over 1.2 million fish into the Pacific. Their efforts continue to lead the way for modern oceanic conservation and the replenishment of vital fish populations.

With these tournaments, selective and sustainable fishing can actually help long-term efforts to restore White Seabass populations. If you’re a spearfisher and want to become a member of a growing community of ecologically minded watermen, enter to compete in a tournament. Get in the water, raise awareness, and give back to the ocean. It’s amazing what can be done when we promote respect for our natural resources. In the words of Jay Riffe, “Dive safe and smart, and most importantly, have fun!”

Wheel House, Written by Kelly Dawson, SouthBay Magazine


Hermosa Beach’s Ron Arias turns to ceramics after a career in storytelling.



A soft melody of classical music is playing when Ron Arias enters his studio, lifting a curtain that divides the workspace from the rest of the dark garage. A single light shines above the small area and casts a warm glow on the clay-crusted potter’s wheel, desk and others tools that comprise his sanctuary.

Ron has been making the short walk from the home he shares with his wife, Joan, to this converted studio for years. It’s where he spends afternoons creating ceramics from the tan-colored mica clay he discovered on a trip to New Mexico. But it’s also a place where he’s learned to recast his detailed journalistic eye for the more relaxed gaze of an artist.

“It uses a different part of my brain,” Ron says. “I’m not thinking. I’m just doing.”

Read the full article at  

Ron Aria's work is featured in the See the Seas exhibition organized by OceansGlobal at Javaman in Hermosa Beach, California from July 16 - August 30.  All work in the exhibition is for sale with proceeds going to  For more information please email  Follow us @oceansglobal #seetheseas

See the Seas | Opening Reception | Sunday, July 26

Please join us for the opening reception for See the Seas this Sunday, July 26 from 2-4pm at Javaman in Hermosa Beach. The afternoon will include art making activities for all ages.  #seetheseas 

We are proud to share that we exceeded our Kickstarter fundraising goal to raise $1,000! Thank you to our generous supporters. Because of you, we will be able to fully realize this fantastic exhibition, offer exceptional arts education programs, and host a celebration for the exhibition.  



Power Outage Causes Fish Loss at King Harbor

Photo King Harbor Ocean Enhancement

Photo King Harbor Ocean Enhancement

The white seabass hatchery at SEA Lab in Redondo Beach suffered total loss due to power outage.  An estimated 3,000 white sea bass were being raised on site by volunteers with the King Harbor Ocean Enhancement Foundation, which works to restock local waters with WSB.  Volunteers were told to clean the tanks and await a delivery of new fish, expected to arrive in May 2015.

The Redondo Beach grow-out receives white seabass hatched in Carlsbad by Hubbs-Seaworld Research Institute.   They keep the fish for five to six months until mature enough to release into the wild. 

The King Harbor Ocean Enhancement Foundation relies on volunteers and community support.  Proceeds from the 2nd Annual White Seabass Spearfishing Classic in honor of Kirk McNulty will be donated to the organization.

Hermosa Beach Residents Vote NO on O

Hermosa Beach Pier | Photo: Clark McNulty 

Hermosa Beach Pier | Photo: Clark McNulty 

Hermosa Beach's Measure O would have allowed a drilling project proposed by E&B Natural Resources Management Corporation 

Residents of the "best little beach city", Hermosa Beach, California, showed up to the polls on Tuesday, March 3 to defeat Measure O.  

“It’s the busiest day I’ve ever seen,” said City Clerk Elaine Doerfling. “And I’ve been here since 1989.” With 13,800 registered voters, city council elections typically draw about 4,500 voters.

But on Tuesday, early estimates said 7,000 voters may have turned up. (LA Weekly)

The entire community is just 1.4 square miles with 20,000 residents.  Community leaders, business owners, concerned residents and professionals staged a grassroots campaign, Stop Hermosa Beach Oil, to inform and enable the citizens of Hermosa Beach to accurately and fairly judge the environmental, economic, and social impact of the oil company's proposition with the intention to "Keep Hermosa Hermosa".  

The community debate peaked when the New York Times published a story on March 2 highlighting both sides of the debate.  

The sounds of victory could be heard on Pier Ave in Hermosa Beach last night.  Thanks to Stop Hermosa Beach Oil, Heal the Bay, Surfrider Foundation, and all the grassroots campaigners, supporters, and voters who galvanized to Vote No on O.

Hermosa Beach Pier Wave | Photo: Clark McNulty

Hermosa Beach Pier Wave | Photo: Clark McNulty


Local villager spearfishing off the island of Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu.  Photo: Clark McNulty  We are one day into the   2nd Annual Kirk McNulty White Seabass Spearfishing Tournament  .  The tournament runs through MaY 31, 2015.   A $10 entry is required prior to spearing a fish . Register   here .   Winners will be chosen by Top 3 Biggest Fish! Awards Party held in June at Body Glove Headquarters in Redondo Beach.  The proceeds will be donated to the White Seabass Hatchery Program led by  Hubbs-Seaworld   to help improve the WSB population on our coast.  In 2014, the inaugural contest was won by South Bay local Paul Hugoboom with a 72.70 pound white sea bass speared in local waters.   Follow us on  Instagram  and share your images #kirkspearo

Local villager spearfishing off the island of Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu.  Photo: Clark McNulty

We are one day into the 2nd Annual Kirk McNulty White Seabass Spearfishing Tournament.  The tournament runs through MaY 31, 2015.

A $10 entry is required prior to spearing a fish. Register here.  Winners will be chosen by Top 3 Biggest Fish! Awards Party held in June at Body Glove Headquarters in Redondo Beach.

The proceeds will be donated to the White Seabass Hatchery Program led by Hubbs-Seaworld  to help improve the WSB population on our coast.

In 2014, the inaugural contest was won by South Bay local Paul Hugoboom with a 72.70 pound white sea bass speared in local waters. 

Follow us on Instagram and share your images #kirkspearo