New TrophyCatch website meets ‘I Do’
Fish Busters' Bulletin
Monday, August 04, 2014
Media contact: Bob Wattendorf, 850-488-0520
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) staff were at the world’s largest tackle trade show when it came to Florida, the “Fishing Capital of the World,” in July. ICAST attracted 11,000-plus attendees, all of whom were professionals involved with recreational fishing.
FWC staff took this opportunity to thank the industry for its contributions. They also highlighted the importance of recreational fishing in Florida while showcasing programs that benefit Florida anglers and resources. Among these are the latest TrophyCatch website and a new “I Do” campaign.
Recreational fishing provides an $8.9-billion benefit to the state’s economy, which supports 79,200 fishing related jobs ̶ greater than in any other state. Florida fishing license fees and federal aid provide critical investments to enhance recreational fishing and boating. State statutes ensure “revenues from fees paid by hunters and sport fishers may not be diverted to purposes other than the administration of fish and wildlife programs by the FWC.” This is a guarantee that your license money will not be diverted to other purposes.
In addition to fishing license fees, a percentage paid on the purchase of fishing equipment and motorboat fuels, and import duties on boats are placed into a federal trust fund administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. States and territories are then allocated their share based on the number of paid fishing-license holders and the state’s land and water area.
On the freshwater side, these funds allow the Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management to produce more than 3 million sport fish per year for stocking public waters, including about 2 million largemouth bass. Biologists evaluate fish populations and angler use in fresh waters throughout Florida. When combined with public input and research on the ecology, genetics and life history of Florida’s freshwater sport fishes, this information allows the FWC to to focus management activities, such as habitat restoration, stocking and aquatic plant management, to ensure sustainable use.
Boating access and safety also benefit. Fuel purchases for boats are a major source of Sport Fish Restoration (SFR) funds, so 15 percent of those dollars go to boating programs. These include an average of 30 boating-access projects annually with local government entities. In addition, the FWC maintains more than 240 boat ramps statewide, and provides location and access information on about 1,700 public boat ramps (MyFWC.com/BoatRamps).
Through TrophyCatch, the FWC has partnered with the fishing industry to reduce the need for regulations and to bring extra value to anglers. Rewarding anglers for releasing trophy bass, rather than prohibiting their harvest, accomplishes many of the same goals and has additional benefits. TrophyCatch is a citizen-science, data-collection program that rewards anglers who document and release bass heavier than 8 pounds. By providing valuable rewards, donated by industry partners such as those at ICAST, TrophyCatch acquires hard-to-obtain information about when, where and how trophy bass are caught in Florida. That information helps determine which conservation efforts are most effective. It also encourages live release of trophy bass and keeps the mature females in their native waters.
Thanks to Brandt Information Services, a new TrophyCatch website (TrophyCatchFlorida.com) was introduced at ICAST. Every angler who fishes in Florida should go online and register. Registering makes you eligible for a drawing for a Phoenix bass boat, powered by Mercury Marine and equipped with a Power-Pole shallow-water anchoring system and MotorGuide trolling motor ̶ all donated by the industry to support this conservation effort. While on the site, check out the rules and be sure to have a scale, camera and tape measure with you next time you go fishing. If you catch, document and release a qualifying bass, you will earn at least $100 in gift cards from Bass Pro Shops, Dick’s Sporting Goods and/or Rapala, as well as a shirt from Bass King Clothing, certificate, decal and bragging rights on the Web and with your social media friends.
In recognition of the importance of license fees and SFR funds, the Wildlife Foundation of Florida, “Florida Sportsman” magazine and other valued partners also launched the “I Do” Florida fishing license campaign at ICAST (FloridaFishingLicenseCampaign.com). This campaign encourages all anglers, even those who are exempt, to buy a Florida fishing license to contribute directly to improving fishing opportunities. Every new paid-license holder, in addition to the cost of the license, helps the FWC attain approximately $8 more from SFR. So you spend $17 but generate $25 to support your sport and conserve our fish and their habitats.
“Let’s buy a license as an investment in the outdoors we cherish,” said Karl Wickstrom, founder and editor in chief of “Florida Sportsman.” “Think of it not as a burden but a bargain.” Go to GoOutdoorsFlorida.com or call 888-FISH FLORIDA (888-347-4356) to order your license and to ensure access to a lifetime of fun, safe and sustainable fishing opportunities.