Captains For Clean Water is a grassroots nonprofit organization that fights to protect and restore Florida's incredible water resources.
The Florida-based Captains For Clean Water 501(c)3 nonprofit organization was started as a response to what local angling community members recognized as poor water management practices, along with a lack of political will and public awareness.
Co-founded by two Florida fishing captains, Capt. Daniel Andrews and Capt. Chris Wittman, the group "never set out to start an organization," as their website states. But the significance and legitimacy of the fight that needed to be fought was enough to form a team and begin working towards its lofty goals.
Learning what this organization is, what it does, and why it was created should be important to every single angler, charter captain, and water conscious person across the country. The group was preceded by similar organizations in the northeast like Save the River, an advocacy group helping the famed St. Lawrence River system, and the Riverkeeper organization that protects the mighty Hudson River.
However, Captains for Clean Water has come into its own as a powerhouse nonprofit that not only protects the incredible marine ecosystems of South Florida, but is a big part of addressing the need for Everglades restoration and improving such vaunted bass fishing waters as Lake Okeechobee.
Environmental Crisis in a Nutshell
In Florida, water mismanagement can have a catastrophic effect on natural ecosystems. It has polluted and fundamentally shifted the conditions of some of the country's most incredible fisheries, including brackish, freshwater, and saltwater areas.
When water quality and poor management practices hurt a local economy that's attached to the angling industry, who else will stand up and do something other than those directly affected?
That's how the idea for Captains For Clean Water was initiated, and the profound changes they're working towards represent the core objectives of the organization.
Like the org says, "We must fight to protect these valuable resources and our way of life for future generations."
Realizing that there is a problem is always the first step, and the Captains For Clean Water team is an important platform being used to get the word out and promote change.
Advancing science-based solutions through efforts focused on awareness, education, and advocacy, Captains For Clean Water hopes that the restoration and protection of aquatic ecosystems can become an easier task. These natural resources are meant to be used for the enjoyment and betterment of all, but the lack of awareness, at least at first, was a major obstacle.
Now that the organization has grown, the policymakers, stakeholders, and all those affected by water management decisions are beginning to see things more clearly.
The work never ends, and Captains For Clean Water has devoted themselves to continuing efforts to see progress. But just like with nearly any large task, the work isn't even close to ending.
In fact, the organization is always looking for support through membership, donations, and contact with state representatives and senators. You can find out more and join right here.
Getting the Word Out
In the Sunshine State, the fishing, boating, and outdoor opportunities are seemingly endless. With that in mind, boating and particularly boat manufacturing has always been on the cutting edge of what anglers and recreational boaters need.
The connection with boat makers and Captains For Clean Water are clear and obvious, and to raise awareness, they've come together with a unique event that's helped advance the cause.
The Florida Skiff Challenge has emerged as one of the spotlighted ways Captains For Clean Water is sharing their message and furthering the movement towards the need for better water quality.
In 2022, five different boat companies will put their own brand names on the line by launching "18-foot skiffs and their best teams to the ultimate endurance test, circumnavigating the entire 1,300 mile Florida peninsula in nearshore waters from state line to state line."
It's an engaging way to help get the word out, and people can support the Florida Skiff Challenge in several ways. For those who rely on Florida's waters to make a living, these efforts to save it for future generations are vital.
Floridians Care About Water Quality Issues
You may think that the biggest stakeholders in the fight for clean waters would be the outdoor industry and fishing guides, but it's also the average, everyday citizens that can make a difference by educating themselves. Learning about the health of local estuaries, the reasoning for certain water discharges, and the effects of the natural flow of water (and therefore contaminants) can help create a conversation about how, where, and why people need to help in the fight for clean waters.
When you consider all the excellent fisheries that the Sunshine State provides everyone, from tarpon to largemouth bass and everything in between, it behooves even non-residents to consider lending a hand.
Anglers, conservationists, and anyone concerned about the well being of these important waterways should be proud of Captains For Clean Water and the work they're doing.
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