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FB101 May Freshwater Fisheries Funding Formatted

FB101 May Freshwater Fisheries Funding Formatted

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May 2014, Fish Busters' Bulletin by Bob Wattendorf of the Florida FWC dealing with funding for conservation and partnership efforts with anglers and industry.
May 2014, Fish Busters' Bulletin by Bob Wattendorf of the Florida FWC dealing with funding for conservation and partnership efforts with anglers and industry.

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09/30/2014

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Florida Fish Busters’ Bulletin May 2014
Freshwater fishing excels due to team effort
By: Bob Wattendorf
This spring has proved exceptional for freshwater anglers, but it is not just a matter of luck or seasonal weather variances. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) biologists regularly work with anglers, industry and other scientists to provide optimum-sustained use. Protecting and enhancing Florida’s freshwater fish species and aquatic habitats is part of the FWC’s mission and anglers help ensure success. Funding for these efforts comes from a variety of sources, including fishing license sales, Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration and sale of the “Go-Fishing” largemouth bass tag. Biologists routinely conduct electrofishing studies in which electric current is used to stun fish, which are then collected, identified, documented and released. Biologists and trained staff also collect creel data by interviewing anglers to see what they are catching and how much time it takes to catch various sport fish. This type information is combined and compared with results from previous years and other water bodies. Unfortunately, those random sampling techniques tend not to account for some of our most valuable fish – trophy largemouth bass.
ark Detweiller shows off a roperly documented TrophyCatch bass prior to releasing it back into Lake Toho.
 
 
“Filling that data gap is a major reason for TrophyCatch,” says Tom Champeau, director of the Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management. TrophyCatch (TrophyCatchFlorida.com) is an incentive- based conservation program that rewards anglers for releasing bass heavier than 8 pounds. In addition to the direct benefits of promoting catch-and-release of these older female bass, so they can be enjoyed by other anglers, the verified data that is provided is used as a form of citizen science. In March alone, 145 verified Lunker Club bass (8-9.9 lbs.), 54 Trophy Club (10-12.9 lbs.) and 3 Hall of Fame bass over 13 pounds were verified with photos and released. This information, combined with electrofishing, creel and other scientific measurements, help biologists determine the best way to manage trophy bass fisheries. For instance, FWC stocked 3.5 million freshwater fish last fiscal year, including approximately 300,000 largemouth bass. Aquatic vegetation management plans kept waterways open for multiple uses, while native aquatic plant and other habitat enhancement strategies improved habitat for fish and other wildlife. Other FWC
 
 Proper documentation of the weight is critical  for TrophyCatch, but length and girth data is also valuable when the fish can still be safely released alive. ll bass verified for TrophyCatch must me live released.
 
programs included building and repairing boat ramps and courtesy docks, placing fish attractors and fish feeders, constructing fishing piers and providing fishing clinics for youth. The result is that Florida provides some of the best freshwater fishing in the country, or the world for that matter. Specific to freshwater fishing, the latest national survey, in 2011, reported that Florida had 1.2 million anglers. They enjoyed 26 million days fishing (No. 2 Texas had 23 million), spending almost a billion dollars and generating an economic impact of $1.7 billion that supported more than 14,000 jobs. Perhaps what is most important is that those 26 million days of fishing equate to 100 million hours of healthy outdoor recreation. In a time when reports of sedentary lifestyles are leading to an obesity crisis among not only adults but also young children, providing fun, inexpensive ways to get outside and be active is increasingly important. Freshwater fishing is available 365 days a year, with no closed seasons. An average angler fishes 17 times a year for about four hours per trip, so based on a annual resident fishing license costing only $17 that works out to just a quarter per hour of fishing fun and maybe some high quality, fresh fish dinners. Fishing license sales are the primary source of funding for the Division of Freshwater Fisheries. A program known as Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration (a.k.a., SFR, Wallop-Breaux or Dingell-Johnson) was created, in 1950, as a user-pays, public-benefits program to restore and
FWC uses Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration funding to provide boating access as well as fisheries conservation and research.

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