Soon after its launch more than 40 years ago, Florida Sportsman became the state’s primary voice for fisheries conservation and wildlife advocacy.
In every issue Florida Sportsman covers key topics, providing hard-hitting insights and leadership. Some of the highlights:
• Currently, Florida Sportsman has led the attack against the federal government’s total closure of Atlantic red snapper fishing as well as other excessive restrictions based on extremely controversial science.
• NOAA’s continuing promotion of a “catch shares” scheme, which would split up types of recreational fishing and increase commercialization also is under attack by Florida Sportsman.
• The magazine and its multi-media components fights year after year against complete “no fishing zones” fostered by the federal government under the guise of ecological reserves and other names that prevent even family-level non-commercial traditional angling.
• The conservation drive constantly seeks to change allocations which often give commercial use far in excess of its relative value. The “best use” of a sustainable fishery, economically and socially, must be given first priority.
• Historically, Florida Sportsman is especially known for initiating the gillnet ban of 1995 which revolutionized inshore fisheries. The constitutional net limit amendment is considered the most significant-ever reform in bringing fish abundance.
• In 1989, largely through Florida Sportsman’s leadership, redfish were accorded no-sale gamefish status, capping a long-running political battle. The change triggered growth of the species into one of the state’s most valued fisheries.
• Through its founder, Florida Sportsman was a key player in establishing the Florida Conservation Assn., now the Coastal Conservation Assn., whose staff and army of volunteers were instrumental in the gillnet ban and no-sale status for redfish.
• Over the decades, Florida Sportsman’s Openers column editorials have championed the value of responsible recreational wildlife use rather than commercial exploitation which so often has depleted populations. Articles in “On the Conservation Front” take careful aim at mismanagement.
• In addition to the constitutional amendment banning gillnets, two other state constitutional amendments involved FS board positions. One amendment attacked agricultural pollution, and the other unified management of freshwater and saltwater management.
• In its first years, Florida Sportsman helped lead the fight to stop the Cross-Florida Barge Canal.
• Then, in the ‘70s, FS supported a successful campaign to eliminate commercial netting from the Everglades National Park. Importantly, this did not ban recreational fishing in the park. Regulations there became what many believe to be the best fisheries laws in the world today.
• Florida’s recreational anglers had been overwhelmed by commercial influence in Tallahassee. FS pushed for a recreational fishing license to give recreational fishing both funding and political clout. Its passage in 1991 prompted the Miami Herald to report that Floridians owed Florida Sportsman a vote of thanks for the legislation.
• Another major undertaking is a campaign to stop discharges of vast amounts of polluted water from inland agriculture into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries, devastating estuarine life.
• Florida Sportsman’s conservation ethic extends to its associated entities. That especially applies to the FS member who may state with pride that “I am a Florida Sportsman.”
Florida Sportsman pledges to continue its tradition of dedicated work for conservation and thanks readers and supporters who have made progress possible.
For a 35-year timeline of key Florida Sportsman editorial content, from 1969 through 2004, click here.