Farewell to a Friend

Saltwater Sportsman - - Tod / Casts + Blasts -

The an­gling and con­ser­va­tion com­mu­nity lost a true cham­pion with the death of Flor­ida Sports­man pub­lisher Karl Wick­strom, 82, on June 25.

For nearly 50 years Wick­strom headed the mag­a­zine, which he founded as Flor­ida and Tropic Sports­man in 1969. The pub­li­ca­tion quickly be­came the lead­ing source for in­for­ma­tion on all things out­doors in Flor­ida, but it was Wick­strom’s ded­i­ca­tion to marine con­ser­va­tion and an­gler ac­cess to healthy fish­eries that con­tin­ues to in­flu­ence fish­eries and habi­tat man­age­ment ini­tia­tives far be­yond the Flor­ida state line.

Through the decades as pub­lisher of Flor­ida Sports­man, Wick­strom fought and won a num­ber of le­gal bat­tles to ben­e­fit Flor­ida marine re­sources and recre­ational an­gling, gar­ner­ing nu­mer­ous awards along the way. He was co-founder in 1984 of the Flor­ida Con­ser­va­tion As­so­ci­a­tion (now CCA Flor­ida) and a bene­fac­tor of many other marine re­source or­ga­ni­za­tions, in­clud­ing the Flor­ida Oceano­graphic So­ci­ety in Stu­art, the Rivers Coali­tion, the Martin County An­glers Club and a long list of oth­ers. His mag­a­zine voiced the con­cerns of recre­ational in­ter­ests in count­less dis­putes with fish­ery man­agers over al­lo­ca­tions and ac­cess to wa­ters, of­ten winning de­ci­sions in the court of pub­lic opin­ion with his edi­to­ri­als in the mag­a­zine.

Wick­strom also worked to achieve game fish sta­tus for redfish, end­ing com­mer­cial sale of the species in the state, and fought cease­lessly for the rights of recre­ational an­glers sub­ject to man­age­ment poli­cies that of­ten fa­vored com­mer­cial fishing in­ter­ests.

Per­haps his big­gest vic­tory in the name of marine re­sources and recre­ational an­gling came in the early 1990s, when he mounted the Save Our Seal­ife Ini­tia­tive to end the de­struc­tive use of gill nets in Flor­ida wa­ters. The move­ment came to be known as the Net Ban, and Wick­strom was key in the cam­paign to amend Flor­ida’s con­sti­tu­tion to that end. In 1994, the amend­ment passed with 72 per­cent of the pop­u­lar vote. In the years fol­low­ing, Flor­ida’s fish­eries re­bounded dra­mat­i­cally, and that suc­cess pro­vided a model for coastal states around the coun­try.

While Flor­ida Sports­man and Salt Wa­ter Sports­man may have been viewed as com­pe­ti­tion in the pub­lish­ing busi­ness, that never eclipsed the real­ity that when it came to fish­eries, con­ser­va­tion and wise man­age­ment prac­tices, we were all al­ways on the same team.

SWS rec­og­nizes and hon­ors his con­tri­bu­tion to our sport. His like will not be seen again soon, and his legacy and vi­sion pro­vide an en­vi­able model for the chal­lenges that lie ahead.

TIRE­LESS AD­VO­CATE: Wick­strom fought many bat­tles for an­glers and con­ser­va­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.