The Certified Fisher Invested in Sustainable Harvests Program

I visited the Gulf Shores/Orange Beach area of Alabama for the first time last fall.  What an enlightening experience it was.  I cannot wait to return. 

The whole area is not only beautiful, but everyone down there seems to have a common goal, to protect yet enjoy the fishery. 

This press release just came in and I find it quite interesting.  Let me share it with you here....

Nation's First Education Program Launches for Recreational
Fishing Industry along Alabama's Gulf Coast

GULF SHORES AND ORANGE BEACH, ALA. - Charter captains and deckhands along Alabama's Gulf Coast will have another resource as they prepare for spring fishing trips. The Certified Fisher Invested in Sustainable Harvests (CFISH) program will provide captains with a unique training opportunity, the first of its kind in the nation.

"We are excited to bring this education opportunity to our local fleet and preserve the cultural integrity of our family businesses," said Joanne McDonough of the Nature Tourism Initiative, which is overseeing this training program. "While there are variations of this program in other countries, CFISH is the first program to be offered in the United States, especially at the comprehensive level of our course that enhances, educates and supports approximately 100 boats in the local charter fleet."

After the success of the Coastal Nature Guide Program, the Orange Beach Fishing Association approached McDonough with a request for a similar program tailored for charter vessels and the initiative to develop a version that would take the fishing charter experience to the next level was created. This pilot program was prepared and ready to launch in April 2010 until the Deepwater Horizon explosion occurred.

"We decided that the timing was just not right and have used the additional time to tweak the program," McDonough said. "The oil spill affected everyone in our fishing community, and CFISH provides up-to-date information. We are very pleased to have such a timely curriculum."

This day-long certification process includes hands-on training during which participants will: gain a workingknowledge of the ecology of the Gulf of Mexico and vital fisheries grounds, review sustainable fishing practices, discuss applicable resource laws and regulations, review and follow a code of ethics, learn how topromote good stewardship practices, become familiar with responsible advertising and learn how to conduct an educational briefing before the start of a fishing charter.

The founding program sponsors of the program are the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, AuburnUniversity Marine Extension & Research Center, Alabama Department of Conservation & Natural Resources/Marine Resources Division, Dauphin Island Sea Lab, the Orange Beach Fishing Association, and Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism (CVB).

"As an avid fisherman and a tourism professional, fishing plays a key role in our guests' vacation experience, and we are honored to support this ground-breaking program," said Herb Malone, president/CEO of the CVB.

"Our local captains have been through a lot, and this training will help everyone secure a bright future." The first CFISH course is set for Tuesday, February 15 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab. Registration is required. The cost to participate is $75.00 per person, and payment will be collected during the February 15th course. Please make checks payable to Auburn University.  Also, a limited number of scholarships are available from Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism. Winners will be notified on Monday, February 9.

Seating in this training program is limited, and reservations are required. Individuals wanting to learn more about CFISH, reserve a seat or apply for a scholarship should contact McDonough at jmcdonough@gulfshores.com or 251-974-4634.

Transportation will be provided on February 15th from the Orange Beach Recreation Center (4849 WilsonBoulevard). Individuals wishing to ride the bus are instructed to arrive at 6:45 a.m., and park at the tennis courts. The bus will depart at 7 a.m.

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