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Algae clogs an inlet to Robinson Preserve. – Rusty Chinnis | Sun

The Quality of Our Fishing Future

This post is a Reel Time column I write for the Anna Maria Island Sun.

Fishing and the outdoors experiences that my love for the sport have occasioned have played a pivotal role in my life for almost seven decades. This infatuation has also made me passionate about working to protect the natural world that provides me with sport, inspiration and a desire to see future generations have some of the same opportunities that I’ve had.

That’s why I keep coming back to what I think is a crucial responsibility, being aware of how elected officials voted when it comes to the quality of the air I breathe, the water I drink and the water that the fish I love to pursue swim in. It’s become painfully apparent to me that the politicians we elect all too often have a different agenda than what they present to us when they want our vote. That’s why I have decided that I’m not a Republican or a Democrat. I don’t vote red or blue, liberal or conservative. What I am is an environmental voter.

What does that mean? It means I research how a politician who wants my vote has voted on issues, not what they promise. In this day of the internet, there’s really no excuse for not getting information based on facts instead of innuendo. A word of caution of course. All too often we make the mistake of looking for information that supports views we already hold rather than a search for the facts. Both are available in spades so be selective when choosing your sources and check to make sure they have no underlying (alternative) agenda. Here are a couple of resources you might want to explore.

Florida Conservation Voters has a scorecard that tracks how politicians have voted on important issues like clean water and clean air. Their mission is to elect lawmakers who protect our environment and healthy communities for everyone. Their vision resonates with mine: “Our vision for Florida’s future is one where our environment is recognized as the irreplaceable foundation of our economy, culture, and quality of life. It’s a future where our economic development, energy innovation, and conservation goals align. We envision a government that reflects the people it serves and lawmakers who vigorously fight for policies that protect our environment and create a healthy, sustainable future for all Floridians.”

There are also resources on the internet that, with a little research, will reveal how a senator or representative has voted on varying issues. Check them out at www.senate.govand

Floridians, especially those who are blessed to live on a barrier island, can see firsthand the effects of poor policy and pollution on the waters that surround our homes. If you haven’t noticed, take a look at all the algae that is accumulating in our bays right now. Yes, some of that is a natural occurrence, but personally I’ve never seen so much so early in the season.

Bottom line, do a little homework going forward and see how those who claim to have your interests at heart actually voted and where their true allegiance lies. It’s a vital component of an informed electorate and will affect the quality of life and fishing we are leaving our children, grandchildren and future generations.