World Angling Captain Will Benson of Sugarloaf Key, Florida, is among the first operators recognized by Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary through its new Blue Star Fishing Guide program, which Benson, as a member of the Sanctuary Advisory Council, helped create. Credit: Nicole Uibell/NOAA
Five fishing charter operators are the first Blue Star Fishing Guides in the Florida Keys. The education and conservation program, launched in May by Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, recognizes charter boat captains who are committed to sustainable fishing and educating their customers about resource protection.
The first to complete the required training and evaluation are World Angling based on Sugarloaf Key, Boneafide Charters of Little Torch Key, Mile Marker 27 Fishing Charters of Ramrod Key, and, in Islamorada, First Choice Charters and Forever Young Charter Company. Forever Young Charters is the first operator to achieve dual recognition as a Blue Star Dive operator and a Blue Star Fishing Guide.
Sportfishing represents approximately 20 percent of the region’s recreational activities. The voluntary Blue Star Fishing Guide program provides online training for captains and crew members that covers general education about the national marine sanctuary, its diverse habitats, and fisheries.
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary program coordinator Nicole Uibel recognizes Tony Young of Forever Young Charter Company in Islamorada, Florida, as a Blue Star Fishing Guide. Forever Young Charters is the first operator to achieve dual recognition as a Blue Star dive operator and Blue Star Fishing Guide. Credit: Jeff Leonia
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary recognizes Captain Larry Wren of First Choice Charters in Islamorada, Florida, as a Blue Star Fishing Guide. Credit: Nicole Uibel/NOAA
Captain Jim Loftus of Mile Marker 27 Fishing Charters on Ramrod Key, Florida, is recognized as a Blue Star Fishing Guide. Credit: Nicole Uibel/NOAA