Frankie Orrala is an outreach coordinator and angler educator for Heal the Bay, a Santa Monica based environmental group. Frankie is originally from Ecuador, where he studied biology and fisheries management.
FCEC: Frankie, you help coordinate a lot of angler outreach surveys for FCEC and Heal the Bay. Why is this work such an important part of educating the public about fish contamination?
Frankie Orrala: This work is very important because we warn and inform the angler community about fish contamination and long-term effects of fish consumption if proper precautions are not taken. Many of the anglers plan to eat what they catch, and many of them have never been exposed to the information we disseminate.
FCEC: What kind of information do you gather while at piers where you talk to anglers?
Frankie Orrala: First of all I am interested in their fishing activities. I ask them how they have been doing and what kind of fish they catch. Then I explain in detail the problem of the Palos Verdes Shelf and methods of fish consumption to reduce exposure to contaminants. Finally, I create a working relationship between fishermen and Heal the Bay.
FCEC: What sort of feedback do you get from anglers?
Frankie Orrala: Most of the pier anglers have no idea that there are contaminated fish around the Palos Verdes Shelf and at the end of our intervention they wonder what kind of fish they can eat. Another question we get often is “why are there no signs on the piers that say what fish are not to be eaten”. They are always grateful for the time we spend with them to explain the problem. But signs about proper fish consumption are coming to local piers very soon!
FCEC: What sort of impact do you think this type of outreach has on these anglers?
Frankie Orrala: I’m sure the result is positive, anglers always express their appreciation, and I believe that they follow our recommendations. There is still much to do, our community is very diverse and we must reach all anglers. We need to not only reach anglers from the piers but also the general public who is often unaware of the fish contamination as well.
FCEC: What was your most memorable experience while on the job?
Frankie Orrala: I have had lots of enriching moments with people. There are so many good moments to share that it is hard to say. I remember one day at Venice pier my colleagues and I looked at the sea and saw a lot of dolphins. Everyone froze, including fishermen and tourists. Nobody cared about what they were catching at this point, they only wanted to see a wonderful show, which these marine mammals gave us for several minutes. Another wonderful experience that sometimes happens is when someone catches a large shark at the pier, all of the fishermen unite to help reel it in!