— 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.