Fish and wildlife contribute to Florida’s tourism industry. Each year, $20 billion and 250,000 jobs come directly from fish and wildlife in the state, and an additional $18 billion and another 200,000 jobs are the indirect benefit of boating in state waters.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission oversees these waterways and protects fishing and hunting resources for this generation and beyond. Those of us who work for the FWC are thankful that we get to enjoy the fruits of our labor while positively impacting others by creating jobs and revenue.
In fiscal year 2011-12 alone, the combined revenue from recreational fishing license sales and federal aid through the Sport Fish Restoration Program is projected to be $45.2 million. In today’s economy, where Florida families are doing more with less, I am proud that the FWC does its part every year to contribute to the state’s economy in a winning way.
Wildlife viewing is a significant economic engine in Florida, accounting for $5.6 billion and 51,367 jobs of the $20 billion and 250,000 jobs noted earlier. The Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail represents only one aspect of wildlife viewing enjoyed by residents and visitors alike. The FWC partnered with the Wildlife Foundation of Florida and the Florida Department of Transportation to create this network of 500 birding sites and 2,000 miles of self-guided highway trails throughout Florida.
During the February FWC Commission meeting in Apalachicola, my fellow commissioners and I experienced firsthand the impact of fishing and its role in the economy of the quaint fishing community. We heard from residents and business owners as we conducted our meetings, toured an oyster-processing company alongside Gov. Rick Scott and enjoyed lunch from the local bounty. The community depends on the marine life in its estuaries and Gulf waters.
Apalachicola is a piece of Florida locked away in time, guided by the traditions of years past. It rejuvenates us and reminds us of the importance of what we do at the FWC. We take our responsibilities to heart as we consider those who enjoy what Florida has to offer and those who make a living from its harvest.
Rodney Barreto's six-year run as FWC chairman will end in August.