The Story of Sunk Boats
I Heart ♥️ Oakland Alameda Estuary supporter Keith Nguyen on the importance of healthy oceans, bays, and estuaries.
My name is Keith Nguyen. I'm passionate about kayak fishing and the mental, spiritual and physical benefits of fishing. Kayak fishing helps me reset when I have a tough week. In California, our coastlines, lakes, rivers, and reservoirs are the envy of the world. We should utilize and protect our local resources. My blog is a good resource for those wanting to improve their kayak fishing skills.

In all things, you have a spectrum. There are the people who attempt to catch everything. Then you've got the middle group of people in which there's a mix of conservation and a little bit of, "Hey, I want to catch what I can." Then we have the people who only catch what they need, that are aware that we need to preserve our resources. It's an evolution though, people evolve as their fishing skillsets evolve. It's a changing dynamic, and it's been like this in the fishing community for years and years.

Conservation is at the forefront of my fishing philosophy. I first started fishing as a means to catch fish and forage for my family. As I evolved as a fisherman, I grew to understand the importance of conservatism and protecting our resources for ourselves and the next generations.

Within the local kayak fishing community I fish with, we're evolving ourselves, we understand the importance of conservation and our impacts on the community. We are trying to do our best to be a good partner with our fisheries, and our environment as well.

Why are San Francisco Bay garbage cleanups important?

We all live on the same planet, which is our home. I think no one wants to live in a dirty house. Whether you live in a house or in the ocean, we are all impacted by the health of nature in one way or another. I think people realize from an ecological standpoint that the health of the ocean, bay, estuaries, and rivers affects our survival.

People understand that we can't keep going the way we are going. We need to steward our environment and the planet. Cleaning garbage from the San Francisco Bay is in our best interest. It should be important to everybody.

What is your favorite place to fish?

In the Bay, my favorite places to fish are Oyster Point, Paradise Park, and the Alameda Rock Wall. I have an annual Halibut kayak fishing tournament in Alameda at the Rock Wall. Paradise Park is an amazing and beautiful area.

In the ocean, I have two spots I love to fish, Big Sur and Shelter Cove. I've introduced people to these areas and everyone that visits is taken by our astounding local resources. If you've been to Big Sur, you'll know, that driving Highway 1 is beautiful. Then imagine you are out in the calm water, looking at the kelp beds and up at the mountains from the water. It takes your breath away, it's beauty that is hard to describe.

Big Sur is an amazing place, but you need technical kayaking skills to go out in the ocean. It is not a place you want to go out and say, "Hey, this is beautiful, let’s get out." There are consequences around that. I think any time you are going into the ocean it’s important to be a skilled kayaker. I'd suggest to start at lakes and then work to advanced ocean kayaking.

How would you describe the areas you consistently fish; healthier, or not as healthy?

There are give-and-takes in everything. I think more people are making conscious efforts to do better in the bay. Over the last 15 years I have fished there are more people on the water now. I think that has to do with the explosion of kayak fishing, with people realizing that we have great resources in the Bay and the Pacific Ocean. With this growth, there are impacts on the areas.

In the South Bay, there used to be a Naval Station that was very dirty. The government did not clean it up, and there was a lot of pollution in the area. Over the last few years, there is an economic and environmental incentive to clean it up. The government spent a lot of money to fix the mess they left behind, and now it's in for redevelopment and cleaned up.

Then on the other side, in Richmond last year there was an oil spill. With all of the cargo ships, there are oil spills in the bay; and that, unfortunately, happens a lot.

Has plastic pollution impacted the fish that you catch?

Microplastics get degraded, fish eat them, and plastics get caught in their bodies. We must tackle this issue because it impacts us all.

I am a big advocate for kayak fishing. I lean toward being a good conservationist. There is an evolution from when you start fishing, and once you connect with the bay and ocean, you’ll eventually end up understanding the need to be stewards, good citizens of our planet, and to caretake the resources that we have.

I think as humans, we can solve problems. Now, is there a will to do it? I don't know. I know I can only do what I can on the local level. I enjoy watching non-governmental entities and startups work to tackle larger problems. They are using advanced AI to learn how to collect and solve complex problems in the ocean.

Positive Actions, Good Juju = Big Fish

I urge people when they are out fishing that the small actions they take every day impact what we do as a community. I encourage people, "When you are out there, pick up garbage. Just pick it up and store it away. Then when you get on land, throw it away." My incentive is it gives you good juju and good karma. As you build that good karma, you'll see the other side and catch when you fish, Mother Earth provides.

I've experienced the positive juju theory many times. I've picked up a lot of garbage, those good actions build, and then I land a massive salmon. People ask, "How do you do it?" I say, "Dude, just do good things, and good things will come your way."

We all know what is right and wrong; in our minds and our hearts. Follow your good conscience, do the right thing, and I think good things will come to you and those you support.
AUGUST / 2022

Text author:Mary Spicer
Photography:Keith Nguyen
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