Casting a Brighter Future: Empowering LA Youth through Fishing and Ocean Conservation

ByGiancarlo Ceja


The success of this program drew media attention across Southern California, including an article by The Argonaut (a Westside LA local newspaper), and two primetime news media features from NBC Channel 4 Los Angeles.

Notably, the NBC4 LA media coverage included attending one fishing trip on Tuesday, August 1, 2023, to highlight the youth program and interview various attendees, including USC Sea Grant’s Linda Chilton.

The event garnered further interest from the Office of Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, with Lizzeth Rosales, the Office’s Director of Environmental Justice, also present at the August 1st fishing trip. NBC’s coverage highlighted Rosales’s reminder to the children that the Office of Karen Bass “wants to make sure that no matter where you live and where you play, you have access to this beautiful place as well.”


USC Sea Grant’s intern, Giancarlo Ceja, wrote about the program:


The California Coastline offers a plethora of beaches, tidepools, and Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) to explore, each filled with an abundance of biodiversity and geographical wonders. Despite the proximity of beaches to Los Angeles County residents, many haven’t had the opportunity to visit our beaches due to accessibility barriers. The California Coastal Act emphasizes the dual importance of public access and protecting these vital coastal habitats, which is what led to Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). USC Sea Grant, as part of the LA MPA Collaborative, the LA Rod and Reel Club, and Marina del Rey Anglers, worked together to integrate MPA education into a longstanding youth fishing program to not only introduce the next generation to the joys of fishing but also instill in them a deep appreciation for ocean conservation.

Over the course of ten fishing trips, Los Angeles Youth aged 5 to 18 from the neighborhoods of South Los Angeles and Pico-Union embarked on fishing trips where they were introduced to the importance of marine protected areas, the ocean’s role in producing oxygen, and the intricate web of connections that binds us to the sea. Many had never been to the ocean before.



Survey Results

The youth participants were given a survey before and after their participation in the program to gauge how their knowledge about the ocean and themes of conservation changed.

Participants coming in had limited knowledge about the ocean and sustainable practices related to the ocean. This is demonstrated by 30% of youth stating they knew what an MPA was before the program, and 26% of youth indicated they knew what sustainable fishing is. A large factor that can impact these results is the lack of ocean access and fishing experience for students within the program. The students mainly came from areas of Southern California where the ocean was difficult to access, which led to 72% of the students having never been fishing in the ocean before.



Ocean Inaccessibility

The curiosity and intrigue of the youth participants in the program highlight a larger issue of beach and ocean accessibility for Los Angeles County residents. Despite the proximity of Los Angeles to its beaches, a lack of public transportation options results in low-income communities having limited opportunities to access the ocean. A 2021 UCLA survey estimated that it costs people $22.09 to travel to the ocean in Los Angeles County, highlighting a price barrier in accessing a public resource.

Though there are 12 bus lines and the LA Metro E Line that lead to Los Angeles County beaches, there exists a transportation barrier to transporting beach supplies with you via public transport, giving a large advantage to those who have cars. Even with automobiles, the large traffic spikes and commute times create a time barrier for residents who have limited leisure time.

The program highlights the joy that youth residents feel when visiting the ocean and highlights a need for increased accessibility to the California coastline, as higher awareness leads to a more interconnectedness to the ocean.


Although the program has concluded for the summer of 2023, they will be back again next year. To learn more about this program or to support their efforts, please contact either the Marina Del Rey Anglers or the Los Angeles Rod and Reel Club.