Today’s youth are the future of Florida’s freshwater fisheries.
The Sunshine State is blessed with 3 million acres of freshwater lakes, ponds and reservoirs and more than 12,000 miles of fishable rivers, streams and canals.
Add to that a year-round fishing season and more than 40 species of freshwater fish that anglers harvest, and it is safe to say we have great fisheries resources. More than 1.25 million anglers enjoy freshwater recreational fishing in Florida annually, and they generate an economic impact of $2.5 billion and support 24,800 jobs in Florida.
We invite you to join the fun and excitement.
Managing Florida’s freshwater fisheries requires public input, the best available science, habitat management, appropriate stocking programs and carefully tailored and enforced regulations.
The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is led by a seven-member board of commissioners who set priorities and help attain the necessary resources to accomplish the mission. They merge public input with science to manage fish and wildlife resources for their long-term well-being and the benefit of people.
The FWC supports and promotes the recreational fishing tradition by opening new areas, enhancing access and recruiting new anglers. We are especially mindful of the need to introduce children and under-represented groups to nature.
The Nielson Company reported that children 2 to 5 years old spend more than 32 hours a week in front of a TV. Similarly, the Keiser Family Foundation, documented school-age children spending 7.5 hours a day on electronic media. Preschool children who are overweight more than tripled from 5.8 percent in 1971 to 18.4 percent in 2009. Those sedentary lifestyles led to the weight gain as well as multiple health and social problems.
“Creating the Next Generation that Cares” is a major FWC effort. David Sobel, a noted educator said that we have to “give children a chance to love the earth before we ask them to save it.” By getting children and families outdoors and engaged in active nature-based recreation, such as fishing, we not only create a caring generation to ensure the future of our resources, but benefit these new anglers by giving them a fun activity that can enhance their physical and mental well-being.
This initiative includes our efforts to build a series of Florida Youth Conservation Centers around the state and to engage other partners through the Get Outdoors Florida! Coalition.
Habitat and species management plans are also critical to our long-term success. This publication speaks to freshwater fishing regulations – additional tools we use to ensure future generations share our rich, natural heritage. The FWC has an underlying philosophy that regulations must not be more restrictive than necessary to conserve Florida’s fish and wildlife.Thanks to the stewardship of generations who lived here before us, fishing opportunities abound. While you’re at it, take a kid with you. This is their Florida too, and they will be happier, healthier and even smarter for it.