Recrational Fishing Alliance Volunteers Take on Florida Fisheries Fight
New RFA-FL Leadership Ups Ante In Effort To Protect Red Snapper Fishery
March 16, 2011
- Grassroots efforts to safeguard the rights of saltwater anglers in the
Southeast have been significantly strengthened this week with official
announcement of a new board of volunteer officers for the Florida chapter of the
Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA-FL).
RFA-FL president Meli Londeree of Mt. Dora, FL said local anglers are
experiencing a new set of challenges in terms of accessing coastal fisheries and
she believes the newly elected officers for 2011 are energized to face the fight
head-on. "We find ourselves in a time of necessary action in
Florida, as anglers on the East Coast especially have grown increasingly
frustrated by the lack of recreational angler representation in our fisheries
management," Londeree said. "Here in Florida we are not going to
take it lying down, it's definitely an exciting time."
As new chapter
president of RFA-FL Londeree will be working closely with fellow officers Dave
Huber (vice president) and Rick Hale (secretary), as well as the rest of the
board of directors which includes other recognizable names within the Florida
angling community like Dave Heil and Ron Coddington. The board is
working with other state chapters and the national organization helping set up
regional committees throughout Florida in an active effort to take action at
every local level inside the state of Florida, while also helping unite state
efforts to meet the RFA mission to "safeguard the rights of saltwater anglers,
protect marine, boat and tackle industry jobs, and ensure the long-term
sustainability of our Nation's saltwater fisheries."
"The tides are
turning, and we have seen what we as recreational anglers can do when we work
together," Londeree said, adding "we have the ear of those who are supposed to
represent us, and it's time to keep that ball rolling."
In setting up
regional committees, Hale has already been tasked with serving as Northeast
Florida chair, and the ultimate goal is to set up other regional committees
throughout Florida with representative chairs in the East Central, Northwest,
Southeast, Southwest, West Central and Keys regions. "As we build
membership in each area the chairman will keep all members informed of what is
going on, and address any special challenges in each particular region,"
Londeree added, explaining that RFA-FL is currently in the process of finding
regional leaders already active in the state to head these specified
RFA-FL is also
addressing other opportunities as well, and with the recent introduction of the
Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission's Red Snapper Tagging Program, the board
believes there's an open window to help collect the necessary data to refute the
existing bad science that has closed down so much of the Southeast fishery. "We
feel this is what we have been screaming for all along, it is so important for
everyone to step up and support these efforts," said Heil, who is the lead
attorney in the present legal challenge fighting the National Marine Fisheries
Service (NMFS) decision to shut down the Southeast red snapper fishery.
Heil's comments came at a recent fishing club meeting for the Central
Florida Offshore Anglers, where Russel Brodie, Research Administrator for the
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, spoke about the new data
collection program. RFA has stepped up to the challenge working
with local fishing clubs to promote this tagging effort.
RFA-FL will also
be holding a Pig Roast Fishing Club Social, co-held with the Central Florida
Offshore Anglers, and Florida Sport Fishing Association on May 7, 2011 at
Bluepoints Marina in Cape Canaveral, FL. The pig has been donated
by RFA, and there is no charge for this event. "We intend to use
this event to bring everyone together in a fun setting to eat, enjoy, and
educate on some of the new opportunities we have coming," Londeree said.
"I am hoping we can get all fishing clubs in the state, and anyone here
in Florida who loves to fish to come out and enjoy the day with us."