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“Every day we are hearing encouraging reports of our marine businesses working to get back to some level of operation. But much help is still needed, and we are calling on our counterparts in to help us meet needs of marine industry families through a joint effort with the highly regarded Old Salt Fishing Foundation, based in Madeira Beach, Florida.”

Those are the words of John Good, executive director of the Marine Industry Association of Southwest Florida & Tampa Bay, in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.

In teaming up with the Old Salt Fishing Foundation, MIASWFTB selected an organization with years of experience in fundraising and with the proper infrastructure in place to accept and administer donations. (For transparency, my wife and I are members of the foundation.)

“Certainly, there are many worthwhile assistance efforts out there, and we applaud them,” Good says, “but we see the need to put funds quickly and directly in the hands of those who make their living on our southwest Florida waterways, specifically our marine businesses, our fishing industry and our marine law enforcement families.”

Through a “Boaters Helping Boaters, Marine Industry Families Relief Fund” with the Old Salt Foundation, MIASWFTB has kick-started the drive with an initial $2,500 donation. The association is reaching out to other marine trades groups nationwide, as well as industry manufacturers and suppliers, to join the effort. “We’re also committed to appropriately recognizing any and all contributors with names and logos,” Good says.

Those wanting to join the effort can click here to donate. Contributors are assured that 100 percent of every dollar donated will be used solely for the relief fund.

Old Salt Foundation’s mission is “to create, protect and promote recreational fishing opportunities for Florida anglers and their families.” The group is widely recognized for advocating the development of sound fisheries science and conservation policies, its extensive youth and family outreach programs, and education initiatives.

Moreover, it operates with an all-volunteer staff and board of directors. During the past 10 years, for example, Old Salt has delivered fishing, tournament, conservation and education programs to tens of thousands of anglers, while donating more than $1 million to regional charities.

Here are notes from MIASWFTB’s latest member report:

• The cooperation and effort being put in by those in our industry to help others more impacted by Ian is amazing.

• Most dealers are trying to assist customers with huge numbers of damaged boats.

• There is going to be a big need for technicians and fiberglass workers.

• Marine contractors are using dock-building equipment to recover boats in canals and mangroves, and are helping sort out some of our dealers’ display lots.

• There have been countless trips to deliver supplies and shuttle people to islands that are only accessible by water or air.

• There are signs of progress, such as the road through Matlacha to Pine Island being opened.

• Local agencies are still identifying the most pressing needs, as areas become more accessible and supply lines open.

• Downtown Fort Myers was inundated, but the city is pushing hard to recover.

In the member report, Good added a positive note:

“We will recover and move on, and for any of you familiar with Bert’s Bar in Matlacha, which laid claim to being the oldest bar in Florida and was completely destroyed, they had a live band playing on the [building’s] foundation Sunday afternoon. We will recover and move on.”

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