Developing A Long Term Black Bass Management Plan
Janice Kerns FWCTo conserve and improve Florida's premier freshwater fisheries for residents and visitors, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has been working with the public to develop a long-term Black Bass Management Plan. The FWC now seeks public review and comment on the first draft of the plan.
Conserving and managing freshwater fish in Florida represents more than good fishing and eating. Our economy benefits as well, because Florida produces some of the world's best bass fishing. Each year, bass anglers spend more than 14 million days here and generate $1.25 billion for the state's economy.
The plan is still in a formative stage and very flexible. During the past six months, FWC staff sought public input to identify issues and possible solutions to incorporate into this first draft. Nearly 5,000 people completed the first survey or spoke with FWC biologists. However, none of the proposed actions are final. Public guidance will assist in the addition, deletion or refinement of appropriate management actions for the next several decades. For more information and to contribute your input, go to MyFWC.com/BassPlan_survey.
Responses to the original survey were reviewed by a technical assistance group representing a variety of stakeholders, such as avid anglers, tackle shop owners, fishing lure manufacturers, tournament anglers, fishing guides, outdoor writers, university researchers and tourism-destination marketers. Next, fishery biologists, law enforcement officers, research scientists and program administrators drafted a list of solutions to problems cited by the public. They provided background information to document the current situation and tools available to fisheries biologists to improve bass fishing enjoyment. Some issues have a pro-con dialogue available to help the public understand their complexity and the need to accommodate multiple users. These include issues like hydrilla management, fish stocking, tournament rules and fishing regulations. The result was the first working draft of a Black Bass Management Plan.
The survey is in outline format, and participants can comment on sections of particular interest, read a more detailed account, or skip areas where desired. The entire draft Florida Black Bass Management Plan is available for downloading or for online reading.
The FWC welcomes continued public input and will accept comments through Oct. 18. The technical advisory group and FWC staff will discuss the additional input to create a more refined plan, for further public review.
"Together we will make Florida the undisputed 'Bass Fishing Capital of the World,'" said Tom Champeau, director of the FWC's Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management.