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.
— Press Release —
August 16, 2017 – Bozeman, MT – The American Fly Fishing Trade Association (AFFTA) today announced a new partnership with Florida-based clean water advocacy group Bullsugar to support efforts to restore critical estuaries in South Florida. Fishing in Florida boasts a state economic value of $9.7 billion. As a leading voice for the recreational fishing industry, AFFTA joins Bullsugar in calling for an end to the toxic discharges that periodically destroy fisheries in the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries, and to water management policies that have caused the collapse of fisheries in Everglades National Park and the Florida Keys.
To boost awareness of government policies that contribute to the decline of these world-class recreational fisheries, and of the science-based solutions that can lead to their recovery, AFFTA will work with Bullsugar to distribute the Now or Neverglades Declaration to members and their clients, and to publicize the impact of Everglades restoration and water management decisions on water quality and estuary health in South Florida. AFFTA and Bullsugar will collaborate to help tackle manufacturers, retailers, and guides understand how to take action and recruit anglers across the US to promote the Now Or Neverglades Declaration and oppose legislation and candidates that threaten the survival of these vital waterways and the extraordinary fly-fishing industry they support.
“The fly-fishing industry has always promoted clean water policy and sound conservation principles, because our businesses depend on healthy fisheries and our values drive us to maintain them for future generations,” said Benjamin Bulis, AFFTA president and CEO. “These estuaries are precious, fragile, and unique. The opportunity to fish here inspires people from all around the globe to visit and relocate to South Florida. Our work with Bullsugar can help preserve that opportunity for their children and grandchildren.”
The estuaries threatened by water management policies include three of the birthplaces of saltwater fly fishing. The Caloosahatchee and the inshore fishery it supports offers some of the richest redfish, snook, spotted sea trout, and tarpon fishing on the globe. The St. Lucie is North America’s most biodiverse estuary, a historical producer of trophy snook and sea trout, where populations of bonefish and striped bass share the same water. And the Everglades and Florida Bay still offer the most remote, unspoiled shallow water fishing in the U.S. Reconnecting historic flows through the Everglades’ “River of Grass”—the focus of the Now or Neverglades Declaration—is critical to the long-term health of all three estuaries.
“This fishery can’t be replaced. There isn’t another Everglades,” said Sandy Moret, renowned guide and owner of Florida Keys Outfitters in Islamorada. “Our industry’s survival depends on Everglades restoration, and with leadership from the AFFTA and groups like Bullsugar, we’ll continue to grow the coalition of fisherman who support the science-based solution to revitalize and protect these waters.”
Bullsugar is led by fly fishermen who witnessed the catastrophic decline of all of these South Florida estuaries within months as toxic discharges and the mismanagement of freshwater caused massive, long-term ecological damage because government policies prioritized drainage and irrigation for Florida’s sugar crop over all other uses. Called in a recent Bloomberg News report “the most influential commodity in the US,” the sugar industry outspends all other agriculture lobbies combined to fund political campaigns and shape legislation. Bullsugar is raising awareness of the costs of sugar’s control over Florida’s water policy, and showing voters how to combat the industry’s political influence.
“Last year in Florida, fishermen rallied around the Now or Neverglades Declaration, which led to historic state legislation to stop discharges and send clean water south to revive the Everglades,” said Bullsugar co-founder Chris Maroney. “That legislation is now in the hands of Washington D.C. lawmakers. We need fisherman across America to understand that the survival of these legendary fisheries depends on their voices. It really is ‘Now or Neverglades,’ and we are grateful and excited for the opportunity to work with AFFTA to keep the momentum going.”
Peter Girard: firstname.lastname@example.org | Jess McGlothlin: email@example.com
Bullsugar.org is dedicated to stopping the damaging discharges into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries and restoring the flow of clean freshwater to Florida Bay. We aim to empower voters to take back our water and government and to ensure a lasting legacy of clean water and healthy estuaries for future generations.
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.
IFTD exhibitors! The AFFTA Demo Day at IFTD is returning, and you have a chance to exhibit during at the event! Join us the morning of July 11, 2017 at the The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes. This is a fantastic opportunity to get your products in front of media, retailers, and general IFTD attendees.
Set-up starts at 6AM; with the main event running from 7AM to 11:30AM, with lunch to follow.
$500 gets you space at the lake — sign up here TODAY! Sponsorship includes a table, three chairs, and transportation of all product to and from the Ritz Carlton Grande Lakes golf pro shop to your pond location on the 18th fairway and lunch.
The IFTD Demo Day will allow media and retailers the opportunity to catch trophy bass using manufacturer’s products. This is a great opportunity to talk directly with the attendees one-on-one about your product outdoors, on the water, in a live fishing scenario.
IFTD will be here before we know it! We look forward to seeing everyone in Orlando, and thanks for your support and help in moving our industry forward.
This ad, an open letter from Orvis CEO Perk Perkins, ran in the Miami Herald yesterday:
Dear Governor Scott and members of the Florida Legislature,
You stand at the threshold of being able with your leadership to solve a problem that has existed for decades and is accelerating in its destruction of one of the world’s great ecological treasures. There is a tipping point in every battle when a fight is won or lost, and in regard to the Everglades we are there. The very nature of southern Florida and this irreplaceable ecosystem hangs in the balance both environmentally and economically. The Everglades ecosystem supports 1.3 million jobs and represents $109 billion dollars to Florida’s economy in recreation and tourism by the very nature of its beauty, but that ecosystem is collapsing and Florida must act now to save it. History will be made here, one way or the other.
There is an answer. The opportunity has never been better to enact a long-term permanent solution to the tragic decline of the Everglades. Climatic, scientific, economic, and political forces are all in place and this must happen now or we may lose our best chance to save it. More than 200 Everglades scientists agree that increased storage, treatment, and conveyance of water south of Lake Okeechobee is necessary as a long-term solution to both the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries, and the increasing damage to Florida Bay and the Everglades. Seventy-five percent of Florida voters approved Amendment 1 to fund the acquisition of the land necessary.
The legislation to guide this effort is in play with Senator Bradley’s SB 10 and Representative Altman’s HB 761. We need your leadership to see this through.
As the CEO of The Orvis Company we commit 5 percent of our pretax profits to conservation and to date have raised more than $20 million dollars with our customers in our commitment to protect our natural resources. This year we are focused on total devotion to the Now or Neverglades Campaign. Our customers have the wealth, power, and influence to accomplish far beyond what we as a company could ever do, and our goal is to inspire and focus them on this campaign. With your leadership we have the opportunity and the duty to bring to bear all the resources necessary to save this unique and spectacular ecosystem, a symbol of Florida, and the engine for a substantial piece of Florida’s economy. Please act now for the good of your state, your residents, and all of us who love the natural wonder that is Florida.
CEO, The Orvis Company, Inc.
Want to help? Tell Florida’s leaders to support SB 10 to build the EAA Reservoir. Text the word “WATER” to 52886.