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  • Gianna D'Occhio

Local fishing habitats face challenges

Updated: Feb 28, 2023

The West Palm Beach Fishing Club (WPBFC) was created in 1940, and has since devoted their time to sports fishing, and teaching the community about safe fishing.

Habitats in Florida are essential to its ecosystems, but as more homes are built on the waterfront, fewer fish and habitats can survive. Hurricanes pose a threat to these habitats but the dangers to habitats vary based on location.

Peter Shulz, a chairman of the West Palm Beach Fishing Club, disagrees. He believes that many factors affect local fishing, with one of the main factors being the overcrowding of people.

Shulz explains how people living on the West Coast might deal with the situation differently than those in South Florida due to the shallow waters that flood more frequently, causing debris and sediment to harm habitats, especially during a hurricane.

Hurricane season in South Florida runs from June to November. Charter boats stop taking out tourists, and local marinas prepare well before landfall. These storms are a potential threat to natural fish habitats in the area.

Adin Kittinger, a tackle and charter fisherman in Destin, Florida, said that some migrations are delayed.

“It seems things are happening later,” Kittinger said.

He noted the King Mackerel migration, which usually occurs in early fall, did not happen until November this year. There are several reasons for this late migration, including warmer temperatures, melting polar ice caps and the destruction of reefs and habitats.

“That didn’t happen this year until November. And it seems this way with a lot of stuff, like things are pushed back,” Kittinger said.

Society can help the growth of reefs and fish populations after a storm or waterfront construction by limiting the amount of fishing, following community or state regulations and not polluting the ocean with harmful waste such as plastics or radioactive materials.

These issues in Florida are providing educational opportunities for students. The West Palm Beach Fishing Club offers scholarships at Palm Beach Atlantic University and Florida Atlantic University for marine biology students.

“We are always teaching, helping kids and bringing up the next generation of fishermen," says Shulz. "The only way to do that is to teach."

By educating the next generation about the importance of the ocean and its habitats, the South Florida community can aid in the health and longevity of our reefs and fish habitats.

By Gianna D'Occhio

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