A few months back, Charlotte County Sea Grant agent Betty Staugler asked me to preview and critique an online class. The class was going to be part of a new certification program for fishing guides.
The program is now ready to go into action. It’s not intended to teach these guides how to fish or run a boat — a decent guide should already know what they’re doing in those departments. Instead, it educates them about how to avoid damaging the environment and our fisheries while out with clients.
Guides put in a lot of hours on the water, so having them minimize the harm they cause is a good thing. But that’s not all they do. Guides are also teachers. How many clients do something a certain way because that’s how they saw the guide do it? Most of them. The real goal of this program is to get guides to be better role models.
Now, not every guide is going to do this. Some won’t see the value. Some already think they’re the Mary Poppins of the sea (practically perfect in every way) and therefore don’t need to change anything. Some just don’t like any idea that doesn’t originate in their own heads.
But those who do choose to participate are going to be better guides for it. That’s why the program will offer certified guides a way to show off that certification, and also will help in promoting those guides.
The program is new, so there aren’t many guides certified yet. But as more of them take part, it would be better for Florida’s marine resources if clients made an effort to choose certified guides. If you are a guide and you’re thinking this program might be a good idea, here’s the info you need from Betty’s press release:
The Florida Friendly Fishing Guide Certification is a program established by UF/IFAS, Florida Sea Grant and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission recognizing fishing guides who are committed to preserving the future of Florida’s fisheries through sustainable boating and fishing techniques.
Participation in the Florida Friendly Fishing Guide program is completely voluntary, and the program involves no regulatory component.
This online certification course covers science-based techniques that ensure minimal environmental footprint of fishing. The course can be accessed via computer, smartphone or tablet. The course takes approximately four hours to complete and can be taken at your own pace in 20- to 30-minute chunks.
The course contains eight educational modules that cover the following topics:
• Introduction to fisheries management
• Best practices for catch-and-release fishing
• Seafood safety and handling
• Sustainable waste management and fueling
• Overview of marine ecology
• Environmental ethics
• Sustainable on-board materials
• Giving back to fisheries management & research
Once you complete the course, you will receive a certification emblem and decal to display on your website and vessel, letting your customers know that you adhere to the highest environmental standards. You will also be listed on UF/IFAS and Florida Sea Grant’s directory of certified guides and receive a swag bag from our sponsors.
The certification is valid for three years and is offered for a registration fee of $130. A refresher course (a shorter version of the full course) will be required for re-certification.
For more information on becoming a Florida Friendly Fishing Guide, visit http://bit.ly/2BuMJIT.
Contact Capt. Josh Olive at 941-276-9657 or Publisher@WaterLineWeekly.com.