The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary has implemented a Blue Star Fishing Guide program to recognize and promote sustainable recreational fishing in the Keys.
The voluntary program provides online training for charter captains and guides about the sanctuary and its diverse habitats and fisheries, empowering them to be truly effective ambassadors for sport fishing and stewards of the environment.
Professional guides educate their angling clients about sustainable, recreational fishing best practices and conserving the unique marine ecosystem of the Florida Keys.
“Nearly half a million people annually come to the Florida Keys to take advantage of the superb fishing along the reef and in the backcountry,” said Sarah Fangman, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary superintendent. “Through this new Blue Star program, those anglers will be able to find and hire fishing guides who know the regulations and understand that they are in place to sustain the fisheries for the next generation.”
Five fishing charter operators have already completed the required training: in the Lower Keys, World Angling based in Sugarloaf Key; Boneafide Charters of Little Torch Key; and Mile Marker 27 Fishing Charters on Ramrod Key; and in Islamorada, First Choice Charters and Forever Young Charter Company, who also is certified as a Blue Star Dive Operator.
Qualifying guides receive branded collateral to market their business as a sanctuary partner and educational information to share with clients on their vessels. Annual evaluations ensure program compliance.
Visitors who make charter reservations with a recognized Blue Star fishing guide are assured their fishing trip contributes to a sanctuary that will support thriving fisheries for generations to come.
In 2009, FKNMS launched a similar Blue Star recognition program for dive and snorkel operators dedicated to education, dive etiquette and habitat conservation.
Blue Star program information: sanctuaries.noaa.gov/bluestar/ or 305-809-4700
Florida Keys visitor information: fla-keys.com or 1-800-FLA-KEYS
Florida Keys fishing information: fla-keys.com/fishing