The American Sportfishing Association reiterated its support of efforts being made on the federal and state levels to address Florida water-quality issues that can have an impact on fisheries habitat and management.
A record-breaking amount of rain in January required that a large amount of water be released from Lake Okeechobee by the Army Corps of Engineers, sending fresh water west and east to coastal areas that are adversely affected by such an action.
On Monday, the Army Corps of Engineers acted on an emergency request from the governor’s office, in coordination with other state agencies, to allow the water to move south on its historic path through Everglades National Park into Florida Bay.
“We encourage the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Florida state agencies and organizations, along with Congress and the Florida legislature, to continue to work together toward long-term solutions and funding for Everglades restoration,” ASA vice president for government affairs Scott Gudes said in a statement.
“This event provides positive momentum to accelerate the completion of projects that have been identified or are underway to achieve the necessary infrastructure to restore the Everglades to its natural function.”
The ASA said Florida is the No. 1 fishing state in the country in terms of participation and economic impact. Keep Florida Fishing, the ASA’s Florida-based advocacy initiative, was established last year to help ensure that the voices of anglers and the recreational fishing industry are heard when policy decisions are made that affect the key recreational fishing state.
Gudes further noted that earlier this month a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the U.S. House and Senate, led by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Reps. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), introduced legislation to expedite all Everglades restoration projects that the Army Corps of Engineers is ready to begin during the next five years.
One of the restoration projects that would be authorized immediately if the legislation passes is the Central Everglades Planning Project, which will increase water flow south into the Everglades, reducing harmful discharges to the St. Lucie (east) and Caloosahatchee rivers (west).