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Florida Remains A Top Fishing & Hunting Destination, FWC Praises DeSantis

by | Dec 21, 2023 | Florida | 0 comments

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TALLAHASSEE, FL (Boca Post) (Copyright © 2023) — Florida remains a top destination for Fishing and Hunting, FWC thanks Governor DeSantis for his leadership.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said that under Governor Ron DeSantis strong leadership Florida remains a top choice for fishing, hunting and recreational activities. These opportunities have had a tremendous economic impact on our state, contributing nearly $15 billion to our economy. Governor DeSantis is committed to prioritizing conservation efforts to ensure that both residents and visitors can enjoy our environmental resources for generations to come.

“Governor DeSantis continues to make protecting Florida’s natural resources one of his top priorities. Because of his leadership, our conversation legacy will thrive for generations to come, and Florida will remain the Fishing and Boating Capital of the World,” said FWC Chairman Rodney Barreto.

“We are thankful to Governor DeSantis and the Legislature for their continual support of Florida’s natural resources and environment. Having our mission supported is crucial for keeping this State the most beautiful place to live and recreate,” said FWC Executive Director Roger Young.

The Great Outdoors Initiative

For example, The Great Outdoors Initiative, implemented under Governor DeSantis guidance through Executive Order 23-209, has partnered the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) with the Department of Environmental Protection. This initiative aims to encourage more Florida families to engage in outdoor activities by offering 50% discounts on Gold Sportsman hunting and fishing licenses as well as annual state park passes. Since its inception, FWC has successfully sold a total of $13.6 million worth of licenses, with 45,000 sportsman licenses purchased and over 12,000 individuals obtaining their first ever license. This discount will be available until January 13, 2024.

To provide further details about the discounted rates for FWC Gold Sportsman licenses—which cover saltwater fishing, freshwater fishing, hunting privileges along with associated permits—the following options are available during this holiday season:

  • Annual Gold Sportsman; $50.75.
  • Five year Gold Sportsman; $247.75.

The Lifetime Sportsman License fees are as follows:

  • For children aged 4 or younger, the cost is $201.50.
  • For children aged 5 to 12, the cost is $351.50.
  • For individuals aged 13 and older, the cost is $501.50.

Burmese Python Removal

Regarding the Burmese Python Removal, during the 2023 Florida Python Challenge®, a total of 209 Burmese pythons were successfully removed from the Everglades ecosystem. This event not only raised national and international awareness about invasive species but also highlighted the risks they pose to Florida’s ecology. Participants from 35 states and two countries registered for this year’s competition with a goal of removing these invasive constrictors. Each python removed contributes to safeguarding the Everglades and its native wildlife. The annual competition encourages public engagement in Everglades conservation by actively participating in removing invasive species.

In recent years, under Governor DeSantis leadership, together with support from legislative bodies and partnerships involving organizations such as South Florida Water Management District and Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida, four annual Florida Python Challenge® events have been held; in 2020, 2021, 2022 and most recently in 2023. Since the year 2000 until now, over twenty thousand wild Burmese pythons have been successfully removed from various parts of Florida, with more than half of them being removed since 2019.

Protection and Rehabilitation of Manatees

The FWC remains committed to the care and rehabilitation of manatees. Under the leadership of the Governor, a significant investment of over $20 million was made in the FY 2022 23 budget to improve and expand the network of specialized facilities for treating injured and distressed manatees. Additionally, an extra $8 million was allocated for restoring manatee access to springs and enhancing habitat preservation in areas where manatees are concentrated. Alongside our partners, the FWC successfully conducted 493 rescues of manatees across Florida from November 2018 through November 2022.

Red Tide Mitigation and Research

Since Governor DeSantis assumed office, he has dedicated more than $14.5 million to support the FWC FWRI Center for Red Tide Research. This funding has facilitated over 20 collaborative projects aimed at enhancing monitoring efforts and applied research related to tracking, predicting and mitigating harmful algal blooms. In 2021, a state of the art experimental facility was officially inaugurated at Mote Aquaculture Research Park in Sarasota. This facility enables scientists to test various compounds and technologies before implementing them on a broader scale. The partnership between the FWC and Mote Marine Laboratory will drive advancements in technology development and approaches for controlling and minimizing the impacts of red tide.

  • Extension of the Gulf red snapper season to 87 days, the longest ever, allowing anglers to enjoy fishing in both the fall and summer seasons. This not only provides recreational opportunities but also supports local economies along the Gulf Coast.
  • Over the past five years, we have worked with partners and cooperators to expand our wildlife management area (WMA) system, offering over 100,000 acres of new public hunting opportunities throughout the state. As part of this initiative, we established 7 new WMAs, providing an additional 30,000 acres for hunters.
  • Record breaking Lionfish Challenge resulted in removing over 30,000 lionfish from Florida state waters in just four months. We saw a significant increase in participation during this event.
  • Through collaborations with local governments and private landowners, our Freshwater Fisheries Management team has enhanced access to freshwater fishing locations across the state. This includes initiatives like the Florida Fishing Trail and Doral Glades Fish Management Area.
  • Deployed over 4,000 artificial reef patch reefs so far. These reefs have created amazing recreational opportunities for activities such as fishing and diving.
  • To help improve the survival of released reef fish, anglers fishing from a vessel targeting reef fish in state waters are now required to have a ready to use descending device or venting tool on board.
  • The Wildlife Research Section of FWRI coordinated the monitoring of around 212,400 sea turtle nests along 1,352 km of beach. This included a record breaking number of nests for green and loggerhead turtles. They also documented approximately 2,300 stranded sea turtles that were either dead, sick or injured. For about 80% of these cases, they were able to determine the cause of stranding. These valuable data have contributed significantly to the management and recovery efforts for all five species of Florida sea turtles.
  • A comprehensive approach to managing snook in Florida state waters has been implemented. This ensures that future generations of anglers will continue to have access to this iconic Florida fishery.
  • The Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management continues its efforts in conserving and managing Florida’s exceptional black bass fisheries. This includes special focus on native shoal bass populations and enhancing the trophy largemouth bass fishery.
  • The FWC is delighted to announce the selection of 14 new sites across nine counties as official members of the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail.
  • Every year, millions of people, both residents and visitors, participate in activities related to observing wildlife. This not only contributes billions of dollars to Florida’s economy but also aligns with the ultimate goal of the Trail. Promoting the conservation of Florida’s natural habitats and species.
  • Regarding the Florida Boating Improvement Program (FBIP) for the period 2023 24, the FWC received a total of 25 applications. On June 28, 2023, the Committee assessed and evaluated these applications and allocated available funds based on their scores. Starting with the highest scoring application, five projects were selected to receive grants amounting to a total of $1,999,601.00.

These achievements will continue to bolster Florida’s economy while offering residents and visitors ample opportunities to enjoy all that Florida’s beautiful outdoors have to offer.

For more information about these fish and wildlife conservation projects as well as others, please visit MyFWC.com.

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