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Conservation education and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill

Fish Busters' Bulletin

Monday, August 02, 2010

Media contact: Bob Wattendorf

Summer provides ample opportunity for children to develop a love of nature. Every time they get outdoors and connect a little more with nature, it helps them develop healthier, happier and smarter lifestyles and appreciation for conservation.  Whether they visit a fishing pond, climb a tree, help in the garden, go swimming or tubing, or explore a park or wooded lot, it gets them outside to participate in active pursuits.

When Richard Louv published "Last Child in the Woods - Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder" in 2005, it spurred a global movement led by the Children and Nature Network to accomplish just that.  In Florida, Get Outdoors Florida! is both the initiative and coalition, with the goal of helping parents and families find fun ways to lead healthier, more-natural lifestyles and to better appreciate our resources. Visit for places to go and tips on fun activities. You can also learn more about the benefits or how to make a contribution.

Ever since the oil-drilling platform, Deepwater Horizon, exploded in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, setting off one of the largest ecological disasters in American history, Floridians have been reconsidering how critical a conservation ethic is to our quality of life.

It is important that parents be able to communicate with their children at an appropriate age level about catastrophes of all types as well as the importance of nurturing nature. Ranger Rick ( provides some excellent tips.

The FWC continues to work diligently with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, county governments, water management districts and several federal agencies, to conduct wildlife assessments and to protect Florida's wildlife populations throughout this crisis. This includes taking water samples and testing for contaminants in sediments, fish and shellfish, and evaluating critical habitat and shorebird and sea turtle nesting areas.

Gov. Charlie Crist requested and received a determination from the U.S. Department of Commerce that some of Florida's vital fisheries have failed. This enables fishermen and affected businesses to qualify for economic injury loans. Meanwhile, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Fisheries Service has enacted emergency regulations to close a portion of the Gulf of Mexico exclusive economic zone to all fishing, and the FWC has issued local fisheries advisories. Since these are subject to change, please see for updates.

In spite of all this, Florida remains the Fishing Capital of the World, with most of our saltwater fisheries and all of our freshwater fisheries still providing diverse, year-round, nature-based recreation to Floridians and tourists.  Help keep it that way by taking a kid fishing, buying a license and contributing to youth fishing/hunting programs when you make your purchase (  All of your license fees go to conservation, and donations go specifically to youth fishing and hunting programs in Florida.

The FWC is working aggressively to protect and restore fish and wildlife species and their habitats and to reconnect children with nature, since the ultimate solution to such ecological crises will be in their hands.  Floridians should care about and be able to enjoy our natural resources in ways that our forebears did to preserve not only our sporting heritage, but also Florida's diverse natural wildlife and the aesthetics that drive the real estate economy, tourism and our sense of being.

Education and opportunity are the key. When children or adults get outdoors more frequently they achieve healthier, happier and smarter lifestyles (see for details) and understand how fragile and interconnected our environment is.

The President's "America's Great Outdoors Initiative" ( and First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move Outside" program ( are national efforts that contribute to preserving and enjoying our natural heritage, combating obesity and creating a brighter future for our children. Together we can keep Florida a beautiful place for children, fish and wildlife to grow together as nature always intended.

FWC Facts:
Black bear cubs stay with their mother for a year and a half, and will usually den with her their first winter.

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