Our friends at Bullsugar with a timely update on the fight for Florida fisheries:
The Angling Community Won a Major Battle for the Future of Florida’s Inshore Fisheries. They’ll Need Help to Win the War.
Sometimes the good guys win. Remember that next time you’re crouching stock-still on the bow, pointing a rod tip at a tarpon crawling your way through a foot of gin-clear water. The shot you’re holding your breath for, the wake, the whole perfect moment comes out of a victory that once seemed impossible.
Fishermen like you saw these moments slipping away in South Florida, in three of the world’s legendary inshore fisheries. The state’s water management policy was flushing out pristine estuaries on the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Rivers and starving off Florida Bay. Endless grass flats, acres of tailing redfish, and empty horizons were fading into stories. But the local fishing community refused to let it all slip into the past.
Sportsman, guides, outfitters, publishers, manufacturers, and organizations from all around Florida built a coalition around the Now Or Neverglades Declaration to fight for a solution. The science, the engineering, even the funding was already settled. Only politics kept Florida from getting its water right and protecting these fisheries for future generations. But politics meant armies of lobbyists, million-dollar media campaigns, and waves of out-of-state support for the status quo, backed by the sugar industry’s unmatchable firepower.
The latest battle started over Now Or Neverglades was one of the most vicious in Florida’s conservation history, but it ended with a stunning decision. Lawmakers agreed this spring to act on the Now Or Neverglades solution: to build a dynamic reservoir in the Everglades to re-route clean fresh water from Lake Okeechobee south to the Everglades–and not to the coasts. When it’s done the project can simulate the historic flows of the fabled “River of Grass” and return South Florida’s estuaries to their natural splendor.
But that doesn’t mean it will happen.
Opponents clawed huge concessions out of the bill before it was passed, designed to shrink the project and limit its use. Lobbyists continue to pressure state officials to stall the planning. The sugar industry took the fight to Washington, where its billions buy attention from both parties, from congress to the White House. The money being spent to kill this solution could have restored the Everglades twice over. But somehow it’s still alive, thanks largely to fishermen who refuse to let this go.
It’s late summer on the St. Lucie. Bonefish are mixing in with snook and sea trout. The massive Caloosahatchee estuary is alive with redfish. Hundred-pound tarpon are snaking across Florida Bay flats. Fly fishermen from around the world travel to these incredible places for days that never fade from memory. No one who’s fished here or dreamed of fishing here ever asks if it’s worth the fight to protect it.
We need your help. Please add your name to the Now Or Neverglades Declaration today and follow Bullsugar.org on Facebook to find out more about the fight for South Florida’s estuaries. The fishing community has already made a difference here. With your support the good guys can keep winning.