Category Archives: Ethics

Catch A Buzz

Have you ever had the pleasure of poling a remote shoreline in Mosquito Lagoon early in the morning while being serenaded by the buzzing of thousands of wings?

No, not the insects for which the area earns its well deserved name; honey bees and bumble bees are omnipresent when mangroves are blooming. So much so, their collective buzzing nearly drowns out all other sounds in the area.

The next time it happens, slow down and poke your nose into the shoreline and watch them work. It’s a fascinating service they perform as they glean nectar from blossoms and collect pollen.

The lagoon is an amazing place, down to its smallest detail. Just like these little overachievers, we all need to do our part to make sure we’re acting in a manner that contributes to its sustainability.

Our responsibilities lie in how we treat it today and how we leave it for tomorrow.

Mosquito Lagoon Fly Fishing Guide

For decades Mosquito Lagoon has been know to some as “The Redfish Capital of The World”.  The area earned the title due to the presence of redfish of all sizes that roamed lush grass flats, shoals and oyster strewn bays.  The highlight being the presence of schools of  breeder size “bull” redfish in many areas that sustained the local population by remaining in the estuary to spawn.

Over the years, water quality has suffered and what was once an estuary known for its gin clear water has become a place where often times you will face limited visibility due to algal blooms and turbidity caused by a devastating reduction of seagrass.

Now more than ever, the guides that work in Mosquito Lagoon must be committed to loving the imperiled estuary.

Loving the estuary starts with how and where they fish, how they handle and release the fish and what they teach anglers about efforts to restore Mosquito Lagoon.

There are approximately 80 guides who may legally operate charters on Mosquito Lagoon.  Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is responsible for the permitting process and enforcement of commercial operations across a vast area.  The Law Enforcement Officers tasked with doing so are understaffed and underfunded.

Due to the wholesale lack of a law enforcement presence, guide operations are not unlike the wild west frontier.  Routinely you will see behavior that is unprofessional and unethical in the name of putting fish in the boat.

A large number of the permitted guides are merely part-time operators who merely see their trips as extra cash in their pocket, not a lifestyle or profession.  Their behavior in exploiting the resource is shameful.

The small number of working guides who are out there nearly everyday are working hard to highlight these problems and have taken on a leadership role in advocating for policies and practices amongst guides that will aid in sustaining Mosquito Lagoon.

If you’re looking forward to booking a fly fishing guide in Mosquito Lagoon, please make sure you’re supporting the resource by choosing a guide who has demonstrated a commitment to preserving and protecting it.

Not sure who that is?  Contact me and I’ll make sure you get the names of guides that I would trust.  I’ve spent a long time fishing alongside them and know who is worthy of your hard earned money.

More importantly, I know who loves the Lagoon.

 

– Ben Sittig Is A Huge Fly Fisherman – I’m A Huge Fly Fisherman Too

Recently, I had the good fortune to spend a few days on the water with my good friend, Ben.  As always, I picked him up at the Orlando International Airport and within an hour or two, he was tight on a redfish. Its become quite the tradition for us.

Ben is working on a new YouTube project and it was a “work trip” for him, so it seemed fitting to put him on the back of the skiff.

Here’s the result of that effort to get him up to speed with a push pole.

I’d say he’s well on his way to becoming a regular Pusherman.

In addition to stabbing a few fish in the face, we spent time talking about more technical issues like the following:

Make sure to follow Ben on his new YouTube channel, Huge Fly Fisherman, more content is on the way, including conservation issues facing Mosquito Lagoon.

Ben will also have his writings about the state of conservation efforts in Mosquito Lagoon featured in This Is Fly magazine very soon, check it out.

Stay Huge!

 

MINWR Shiloh Commercial Space Launch Environmental Impact Could Be Epic

Yesterday, as Tropical Storm Hermine brought wind and rain to the Space Coast; very few, if any, skiffs were on the water enjoying the mostly pristine beauty of Mosquito Lagoon.

The serenity of the quiet moment was interrupted when a thunderous series of booms shook the house again and again.

I immediately  went outside to investigate, knowing it wasn’t thunder from a storm band rain shower approaching.

Moments later, social media began to break the story of an “anomaly ” that had just occurred when SpaceX was testing a rocket motor in preparation for an early morning launch on Saturday.

I went to a nearby dock and immediately saw the smoke plume rising to the south, nearly 17 miles away.

Thanks to safety protocols, no human life was lost, nor were there any injuries.  The question that remains is: how much environmental damage might be done by the remnants of rocket fuel that were surely washed into the surrounding marshland when a deluge of water was applied to extinguish the massive fire.

Currently, Space Florida is awaiting an environmental impact study’s completion in an effort to bring just such a launch site to the MINWR, just 5-7 miles south of my home along the shores of Mosquito Lagoon.  I hope that a fully transparent and objective study includes the aftermath of this incident in the study.  The area being considered is home to many endangered and threatened species and is opposed by US Fish & Wildlife staff that run the Refuge.

Environmental Impact Study Pending
Environmental Impact Study Pending

Yesterday was a wake-up call.  Space flight remains a risky business and with that in mind, I remain opposed to the Commercial Launch Facility that is proposed.

Shiloh Commercial Spaceport

In 2012, the State of Florida requested 150 acres of NASA land located at the north end of the Kennedy Space Center, near Daytona. The site – known as “Shiloh,” which is largely unpopulated at this time, would be developed into a dedicated commercial spaceport. Kennedy Space Center Director Robert Cabana communicated his support to the Federal Aviation Administration in April 2013 for the preparation of an Environmental Impact Study of the site. Today, the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation is working with the State of Florida to complete the Environmental Impact Study, which is anticipated to be complete by late 2015. Following the successful completion of that study, Space Florida will submit a formal application to the FAA for consideration of a Spaceport Operators License at the site.

I support the creation of a new launch facility on the current NASA campus where infrastructure already exists to respond to and manage the next inevitable “anomaly” when it occurs.

Continue to stay engaged on this issue and have your voice heard saying No Shiloh Launch Complex.  The MINWR needs to remain pristine and clean.

 

Loose Lips Sink Ships

Have you ever found a special place on the water that seems to be that out of the way location which always produces days that leave you smiling?  You know, the one I’m talking about, that lonely slice of water that takes a bit of effort to reach, where you never see another soul.

The truth is, you’re not the only one that knows where it is, its just that the effort to get there limits even you and it it quickly becomes the spot reserved for special days when solitude is required and you know it can be found there, if you’re in the mood to work for it.

After a while, you’ve grown so fond of your out of the way slice of heaven that you take someone along to show them the unreal beauty and charm your little Shangri-La possesses.  Even though that little voice in the back of your head cautions you to keep it to yourself, you convince yourself it will be kept in confidence, so off you go.

The magic is in the air and the birds are chirping as you and your guest revel in the moments where your rod is bent and fish come to hand in a way that never happens on a normal day, in the usual spots.  You keep reminding them that the place you’re visiting is special and warrants secrecy, hoping that your trust won’t be betrayed.

By day’s end, you know that you’ve shared a truly special place and time and the allure of it is almost fairytale in its splendor, which makes you nervous.

As you finish a beer with your friend, they thank you for the special day and reassure you that the secret is going to be kept.  They express reverence for the location, and pour on the charm letting you know its safe.

A month or two later, it happens.  There in all of its glory, laid bare for the world to see on Instagram or Facebook is the spot you’ve cherished for so long.  That place you’ve always held dear and protected. Your pulse quickens, and in mere moments, you know its over, the secret is out.

The temptation was too great for the person who didn’t earn it.  They were given the privilege, and without the investment of sweat equity, they gave it away.

Worse yet, they begin to abuse it.  Almost weekly at first, them more and more often, until its not just the recipient of your friendly benevolence, but now others are there and posting about too.

Forgiving those who trespass against you is tough.  But truth be told, its best that you do, for they know not what they’re doing.  The  luster will fade on that place of beauty in due time, for once its been burned, the patina of overuse will erase it.

Don’t despair, but rather, channel your efforts in finding your next quiet corner and remember, Loose Lips Sink Ships.