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Florida Friendly Fishing Guide Certification

Fishing is big business in Florida, contributing billions of dollars each year to the state’s economy.  Fishing guides are an important part of the fishing industry, providing locals and tourists alike with authentic Florida fishing experiences and memories that last a lifetime.  The Florida Keys has some of the most highly acclaimed fishing guides in the world!  Fishing guides are role models that can teach ethical angling through their onboard behaviors.  The University of Florida IFAS Extension and Florida Sea Grant have developed a voluntary certification program with the FWC and input from fishing guides called Florida Friendly Fishing Guides.  The target audience is flats guides, charter boat and head-boat captains and crew.  Recreational fishers are welcome to take the course, too.

What will I learn?

The Florida Sea Grant Florida Friendly Fishing Guide online course teaches best practices for catch and release fishing.  Each lesson plan focuses on a different aspect of ethical angling and there are modules on seafood safety, federal and state fisheries management, onboard waste management, and how to teach your customers about the environment.  One environmental impact of fishing is what we call discard mortality — this is when a caught fish is released but does not survive.  You will learn how to increase fish survival, including how to identify barotrauma and use descending and venting tools to return reef fish back to deep water.

Starting July 15, 2020, a descending device will be required for head-boats, charter boats, commercial, and recreational vessels fishing for reef fish in federal waters of the Atlantic Ocean from North Carolina to Florida.  In the Florida Keys, this will be required on-board when fishing for fish in the snapper-grouper complex in the Atlantic from 3-miles offshore all the way to the Dry Tortugas.  The Florida Friendly Fishing Guide course will teach you how to identify barotrauma and select the right tool for sending fish back down to the depths!  Up to 60% of fish that are caught are released, which is why it is so important to have proper fish handling skills.

For More Information

The Florida Friendly Fishing Guide certification recognizes fishing guides that are committed to preserving the future of Florida’s fisheries through sustainable boating and fishing techniques.  Our local captains and mates are fishing ambassadors.  They can demonstrate proper fish handling skills and best practices for ethical angling to their customers.  This is a great opportunity for professional development and a benefit to list your business on the Florida Sea Grant Florida Friendly Fishing Guide website.

The cost is $130 and the course takes about 4 hours to complete. Once you complete the course you receive a welcome package, public listing on the Florida Sea Grant website, and an optional social media promotion. For more information and registration go to https://www.flseagrant.org/florida-friendly-fishing-guide-certification/ or contact your local Florida Sea Grant agent.  Florida Friendly Fishing Guide is a state-wide program for all saltwater fishing guides in Florida.  In Monroe County, contact Shelly Krueger at shellykrueger@ufl.edu

 

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