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Florida Freshwater Fisheries Management open for business under new leadership

Fish Busters' Bulletin

Friday, May 07, 2010

Media contact: Bob Wattendorf

For 30 years, I've had the opportunity, challenge and pleasure of working with some great biologists dedicated to conserving Florida's unique fisheries resources while providing quality recreational fishing. Since 2004, I've had the privilege of working under the direction of Darrell Scovell, director of the FWC's Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management.

At the end of April, Darrell retired from the FWC, concluding a distinguished career as a freshwater fish biologist.

Darrell's 32-year career began with the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission working on the Lake Okeechobee Fisheries Utilization and Management Program. Over the years, he had major impact on commercial fisheries and aquaculture programs before becoming director.

"Throughout his career, he has influenced and inspired many of us within the FWC family with his conservation ethic, honesty and compassion," said executive director Nick Wiley in an e-mail to employees.

Recently, Darrell has paid special attention to two initiatives while balancing and maintaining the division's other core functions. First, he encouraged expansion of the conservation education model developed at the FWC's Joe Budd Aquatic Education Center. His support for the Get Outdoors Florida! Coalition, Florida Youth Conservation Centers Network and internal education and outreach programs promises to be a lasting legacy.

Second, he recognized the teamwork necessary to manage the state's three million acres of freshwater fisheries. Internal coordination with research biologists, habitat restoration managers, law enforcement, the new aquatic plant management section, outreach personnel, boating access planners and regional staffs within the FWC are part of the coordination challenges. Recognizing the needs and the importance of getting public support from anglers, fishing-related businesses and waterfront landowners, Darrell initiated an effort to create a Florida Black Bass Management Plan.

Stepping up to become the new division director is Tom Champeau. Currently regional director for the Southwest Region, Tom began his employment in Florida in 1981, coming from the University of Michigan with a fisheries degree, and served as a fisheries biologist for 28 years. In announcing the appointment, Wiley described Tom as "passionate about the future of freshwater fisheries management in Florida and having many strong relationships with people in this arena."

Tom was critical in initiating the Black Bass Management Plan concept and can be expected to aggressively pursue its completion and implementation.

Professionally, Tom indicated his primary responsibility as division director will be to enable and support staff in efforts to ensure that fish and wildlife resources are protected and managed for sustained benefits for all Floridians.

Tom follows a series of directors besides Darrell.

The first trained fisheries biologist, and subsequently the first division director, was Jack Dequine, who was hired in 1943. Jack is still an active member of the Florida Chapter of the American Fisheries Society.

A true Southern gentleman, Jerry Banks, was at the helm when I was hired in 1979. He passed the torch to Smokie Holcomb. Smokie was known for his hands-on knowledge of fisheries. He helped pioneer lake-restoration work and showed a compassionate understanding of anglers' needs.

Around 1996, Jerry Shireman took over from Smokie. He brought his experience as leader of the Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences program at the University of Florida to state government. In 2000, Ed Moyer, became fisheries director. Among Ed's notable accomplishments was opening of the state-of-the-art Florida Bass Conservation Center.

With a new director in place who is sure to be as effective as those he follows, the time is right for everyone who is interested in Florida freshwater fisheries to provide input and support these efforts. Here are two important opportunities.

First, provide input for the newly proposed Black Bass Management Plan.  For additional information, visit, and select "Black Bass Management Plan." Then fill out a survey to provide the FWC with your opinion about how to ensure quality bass fishing in Florida.

We also have teamed up with partners in the angling industry to create a 5-year freshwater fishing license promotion. When you upgrade now to a 5-year or lifetime freshwater fishing license, you will receive a free bonus package by mail with tackle and accessory samples, magazines and coupons from fishing-related companies.

Go to for details, including the opportunity to see all of the content and to verify the offer is still valid (current expectations are it will last until early June 2010). It's a great deal for you and the future of freshwater fishing in Florida.

FWC Facts:
The wild pig, also called the wild hog, wild boar or feral pig, is not a Florida native and may have been introduced by Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto as early as 1539.

Learn More at AskFWC