Thanks to the incredible outpouring of support of fishing guides, industry leaders, and recreational and commercial anglers – who all traveled to Tallahassee on April 11th to ask legislators for help – Florida has taken the first major step in years to send Lake Okeechobee waters south. One day after NowOrNeverglades Sportfishing Day, the Florida Senate passed SB-10 by an incredible margin, 36-to-3.
This was also the first time in over twenty years that the sportfishing industry mobilized to demand action in Tallahassee. Since the gill net ban in 1994, anglers have stayed out of the dealings in Tallahassee (for a good reason- fishing is much more enjoyable than politics!) But, as proven throughout history, when fisheries are being destroyed, anglers are willing to do anything and everything to save them.
After a morning press conference at the Florida Press Association participants broke into teams and worked the halls of the Senate and House of Representatives. Meetings were held in the offices of more than 50 Senators and Representatives. Included in the slate of legislators that teams met with was Speaker of the House, Richard Corcoran.
During the meeting with Speaker Corcoran, Congressman Brian Mast of Florida’s 18th Congressional District emphasized the importance of the EAA reservoir in alleviating Lake Okeechobee discharges and restoring the natural flow of water. While donning a Captains for Clean Water baseball cap, Congressman Mast pledged to Speaker Corcoran support in Washington D.C.
Sportfishing Day concluded at a local legislature favorite, The Edison. Whereby hundreds of supporters ranging from anglers, fishing industry giants, the International Association of Fire Fighters, Representatives Heather Fitzenhagen, Holly Raschein, and Neil Combee, and much more gathered to rally for clean water and to save the Everglades.
Captains for Clean Water is continuing to build momentum. “The incredible support from fishing industry giants such as Yeti, SeaDek, Simms, Costa, Mustad, Florida Sportsman, Hell’s Bay Boatworks and many other companies has empowered us to quickly become the leading group of resource users fighting for clean water in Florida”, said Capt Daniel Andrews, co-founder of Captains for Clean Water. “I represent an awful lot of conservation advocacy groups, but honestly I have a heartfelt connection to Captains for Clean Water, because I want these guys to have my back if my water were to have problems.” Said Capt. CA Richardson, host of FlatsClass TV.
The finale of the event occurred when Fort Myers Attorney and Captains for Clean Water advisor, Sawyer Smith of Wilbur Smith Attorneys at Law, presented Captains Chris Wittman and Daniel Andrews a ceremonial check to Captains for Clean Water in the amount of $100,000.
It’s critically important for all Floridians to get involved with this issue, as we still have an enormous battle ahead of us. The bill, which still has to pass the House of Representatives (without being harmfully amended) and be signed by the governor, is merely a first step in the effort to end harmful discharges into the coastal estuaries and restore the desperately needed flow of clean freshwater into Florida Bay.
Be part of the solution: Join Captains for Clean Water today.
Special thanks to SeaDek, Simms, Costa, Hell’s Bay Boatworks, Mustad, MANG, Florida Fishing Products, Skinny Water Culture, Patagonia and Carbon Marine for taking part in the event.
We would also like to thank the other organizations who made the event a success: Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, Bullsugar, Florida Wildlife Federation, International Gamefish Association, FSU Fishing Club, and Everglades Trust.