Conservation education and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill
Fish Busters' Bulletin
Monday, August 02, 2010
Media contact: Bob Wattendorf
Summer provides ample opportunity for children to
develop a love of nature. Every time they get outdoors and connect
a little more with nature, it helps them develop healthier, happier
and smarter lifestyles and appreciation for conservation.
Whether they visit a fishing pond, climb a tree, help in the
garden, go swimming or tubing, or explore a park or wooded lot, it
gets them outside to participate in active pursuits.
When Richard Louv published "Last Child in the
Woods - Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder" in 2005,
it spurred a global movement led by the Children and Nature Network
to accomplish just that. In Florida, Get Outdoors Florida! is
both the initiative and coalition, with the goal of helping parents
and families find fun ways to lead healthier, more-natural
lifestyles and to better appreciate our resources. Visit GetOutdoorsFlorida.org for places to go and
tips on fun activities. You can also learn more about the benefits
or how to make a contribution.
Ever since the oil-drilling platform, Deepwater
Horizon, exploded in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, setting off
one of the largest ecological disasters in American history,
Floridians have been reconsidering how critical a conservation
ethic is to our quality of life.
It is important that parents be able to communicate
with their children at an appropriate age level about catastrophes
of all types as well as the importance of nurturing nature. Ranger
Rick (NWF.org/Kids/RangerRick) provides some
The FWC continues to work diligently with the
Florida Department of Environmental Protection, county governments,
water management districts and several federal agencies, to conduct
wildlife assessments and to protect Florida's wildlife populations
throughout this crisis. This includes taking water samples and
testing for contaminants in sediments, fish and shellfish, and
evaluating critical habitat and shorebird and sea turtle nesting
Gov. Charlie Crist requested and received a
determination from the U.S. Department of Commerce that some of
Florida's vital fisheries have failed. This enables fishermen and
affected businesses to qualify for economic injury loans.
Meanwhile, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's
Fisheries Service has enacted emergency regulations to close a
portion of the Gulf of Mexico exclusive economic zone to all
fishing, and the FWC has issued local fisheries advisories. Since
these are subject to change, please see MyFWC.com/OilSpill for
In spite of all this, Florida remains the Fishing
Capital of the World, with most of our saltwater fisheries and all
of our freshwater fisheries still providing diverse, year-round,
nature-based recreation to Floridians and tourists. Help keep
it that way by taking a kid fishing, buying a license and
contributing to youth fishing/hunting programs when you make your
purchase (MyFWC.com/License). All of your license fees go to
conservation, and donations go specifically to youth fishing and
hunting programs in Florida.
The FWC is working aggressively to protect and
restore fish and wildlife species and their habitats and to
reconnect children with nature, since the ultimate solution to such
ecological crises will be in their hands. Floridians should
care about and be able to enjoy our natural resources in ways that
our forebears did to preserve not only our sporting heritage, but
also Florida's diverse natural wildlife and the aesthetics that
drive the real estate economy, tourism and our sense of being.
Education and opportunity are the key. When
children or adults get outdoors more frequently they achieve
healthier, happier and smarter lifestyles (see
childrenandnature.org for details) and understand how fragile and
interconnected our environment is.
The President's "America's Great Outdoors
Initiative" (DOI.gov/AmericasGreatOutdoors) and First Lady
Michelle Obama's "Let's Move Outside" program (LetsMove.gov/Outside) are national efforts that
contribute to preserving and enjoying our natural heritage,
combating obesity and creating a brighter future for our children.
Together we can keep Florida a beautiful place for children, fish
and wildlife to grow together as nature always intended.