Posted on July 21 2016
As the slow moving Lake Okeechobee disaster and its toxic algae bloom spreads from the Everglades to Georgia waters, the American Fly Fishing Trade Association asks our members to contact Florida Governor Rick Scott’s; Senators Bill Nelson’s and Marco Rubio’s; and Representatives Carlos Curbelo’s, Ilena Ros-Lihtinen’s, and Patrick Murphy’s offices to request that they introduce and support legislation that finds long term solutions to this ongoing problem and provide fiscal and restoration relief for those effected.
Benjamin Bulis, President of the American Fly Fishing Trade Association, notes, “As the trade association representing the business of fly fishing, it is our responsibility to do whatever we possibly can to facilitate change and spark reforms of the environmental disaster we are seeing in Florida. The local and federally elected officials must come together with a plan of action and implement the plan before it’s too late. The loss of sea life and sea grasses unfortunately will take decades to rebuild, but they will if we act now.”
Fishing, and especially the fly fishing trade, is a huge economic driver in the state of Florida. Statewide, recreational fishing provides $9.3 billion dollars in revenue, with the Florida Keys flats accounting for $465-million of that and the Everglades an additional $1-billion. These economic impacts though, do not highlight the state of emergency that this places on the 123,000 people and families that rely upon healthy water and ecosystems to earn their livings.
“The discharges that contain blooms and/or cause catastrophic salinity variances also kill the most common vehicle for recreational angler involvement – hands on restoration work. A lot of anglers want to help to create a brighter fishing future,” states AFFTA member Brett Fitzgerald, Executive Director of the Snook & Gamefish Foundation. “Local volunteer projects such as mangrove plantings, sea grass plantings, oyster bed building are often the best way to engage anglers and build a lasting sense of connection with our environment. Right now, we can’t ask anglers to bother with such projects in an estuary or waterway where the water quality is going to kill the new habitat before it has a chance to have an impact. We’re losing an avenue of empowerment and communication with our brothers and sisters on the water.”
Florida thrives on its tourism industry and many kids are introduced to the pull of the sea by exploring Florida’s wild places. That introduction is often through the eyes and mentorship of an experienced fishing guide or outfitter. Something must be done now. Call Florida’s congressional delegation and ask them to take action.
Senator Bill Nelson
United States Senate
716 Senate Hart Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Senator Marco Rubio
284 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C., 20510
Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
2206 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Representative Carlos Curbelo
1409 Longworth HOB
Washington, D.C. 20515
Representative Patrick Murphy
211 Canon HOB
Washington, D.C. 20515
Office of Governor Rick Scott
State of Florida
400 S. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001
AFFTA advocates for and promotes the sustained growth of the fly fishing industry. By igniting consumer demand for products and services, providing businesses the tools to be successful, and advocating for access, protection and restoration of fishing waters, we will continue to enhance the passion and profitability of the sport of fly fishing.