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You'll have to excuse Florida Sportsman founder and editor-in-chief Karl Wickstrom for being blunt about the destruction of our estuaries. Blame a lifetime of listening to excuses and lies about it.
Irma’s next victims will be the fishing, hospitality, artist, and service communities in South Florida. The next urgent task is to help supplement those without sufficient financial buffers against unexpected catastrophe of this scale. As recovery begins, we should be providing two functions: grants and information. We should be using social media to help on the sourcing of information.
Matt Hauck started fly fishing in Florida more than 25 years ago. Today he chases redfish from Jacksonville to the Keys and heads to Flamingo to find snook as often as he can. But a recent trip to Florida Bay inspired him to do something about the declining conditions he saw more and more frequently.
Bud Jordan built a legacy of personal investment in Martin County. After watching US Sugar infiltrate and turn a local institution against itself, he walked away from a group he founded. But instead of a bitter lesson, Jordan’s work is a blueprint for how to build and protect a healthy community.
Bud Jordan moved to a waterside paradise in 1971 and fell in love. He and his wife Marji ate stone crabs and pompano caught from their dock and swam in the St. Lucie all year long. But it didn’t take long to notice the river’s decline. Slowly at first, but then in awful pulses that came more and more frequently with freshwater discharges from Lake Okeechobee, the grass beds and fish began to disappear. More of the snook Jordan caught had lesions and parasites. The deep river bends silted in with flocculent ooze--polluted, decomposing muck from the lake.Read more
Eric Burnett is the quintessential Florida sportfisherman. Fishes for lots of species, salt and fresh. Appreciates world-class fisheries. And top-quality tackle. Fly fishes with professional guides. Worries about their future and about the next generation's chances to fish these waters. Doesn't live here.
"I treasure the moments when I'm able to spend fly fishing," he says. "Fishing in areas like the Everglades or the Keys allows me to challenge my abilities and experience an entirely different world. By protecting areas like these, I get more opportunities to enjoy them in the future, and my son gets a chance to enjoy them after I'm gone."
Hundreds of captains and guides are headed to Tallahassee on April 11th to tell their stories to lawmakers. You should, too.
Now Or Neverglades Sportfishing Day will unite people who depend on healthy fisheries for their livelihoods--fishermen, boat builders, outfitters… but also people who just love the water and refuse to stay quiet while our estuaries die. Legislators have asked us again and again to tell them in person about the impact of Florida’s water management crises, to take our stories to them. On April 11th we’re bringing them a boatful.
The reason it makes a difference is that numbers are abstract, even when they’re impressive. Florida’s fishing industry contributes $9.7 billion and 129,000 jobs to our economy, and boating contributes another $10.4 billion and 83,000 jobs--and both are dwarfed by our $89.1 billion tourism industry and its 1.1 million jobs. And toxic discharges and the diversion of freshwater from the Everglades puts every dollar of it at risk.