Florida Keys Seafood Festival January 19 & 20 | Bayview Park, Key West
The Board of Directors of the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen's Association (FKCFA) and our members are confident about the future of Monroe County's marine resources and our industry continues to participate in cooperative research efforts to maintain and improve them. From a management perspective, we can assure the public that the county has a growing and sustainable seafood industry.
The Florida Keys are surrounded by a seafood gold mine, and over the last two decades, the county has maintained its spot as one of the top most valuable ports in the nation. With more than 350 federally permitted fishing boats, the Florida Keys are home to the largest commercial fleet from Texas to North Carolina. Over 80 percent of the spiny lobster harvested in the state of Florida are caught in Monroe County, making commercial fishing the county's second largest economic engine and employer next to tourism.
The commercial fleet supports over1,600 families, which is close to 5 percent of the county's population. Stock Island alone lands 7 million pounds with a dockside value of $24 million — that's 5 percent of Florida's total landings and 13 percent of total value.
In 2006, Monroe County was ranked the fifth most valuable port in the nation, with a dockside value of about $54.4 million. In only 8 years that ex-vessel value has increased to more than $100 million. This figure does not include retail sales and profits made by wholesalers who marketed seafood products worldwide. MOst economists agree to a turn-over rate within the county of 'x6' putting the value of those harvests at more than $600 million. It's reasonable to predict that seafood and related industries earned upwards of $70 million. This does not take into account the millions of dollars of shrimp caught off Key West and landed at other ports around the Gulf of Mexico. The face of the shrimping industry has changed, with many ice boats being upgraded to freezer boats, some capable of fishing up to three months, that return to their respective Gulf ports.
Seafood is a renewable natural resource and cooperative efforts between fisheries managers and stakeholders have kept all key indicator species in the Florida Keys at sustainable levels. Every year, our fleet harvests responsible amounts of seafood, which allows for stocks to rebuild themselves. None of our commercially important species are overfished, including shrimp, lobster, stone crab, kingfish, Spanish mackerel, red grouper, and mangrove, yellowtail and mutton snappers. In addition, 80 percent of our commercial fisheries have been recognized as "environmentally responsible" by the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Marketing Program. FKCFA is also championing an effort to define "sustainable fishing practices" that will conserve habitat and stocks for future generations.
These facts confirm that Monroe County's commercial fishing community is a significant part of our economy. Aside from the money that it generates, our commercial fleet is one of the last standing symbols of this county's heritage.
FKCFA can assure consumers worldwide that seafood products harvested in the Florida Keys are among the safest in the world, sustainable and harvested using environmentally safe practices.
Members support these efforts by contributing their dues and making extra contributions of time and effort to particpate in fisheries management and cooperative research programs. We must all pitch-in to ensure that our fisheries are sustainable for the financial benefit of the citizenry of Monroe County and to preserve our cultural heritage. Indeed the survival of all commercial fishing in the Florida Keys is at great risk from loss of our traditional working waterfronts, excessive fishing regulations and inappropriate and unwarranted interference from some environmental groups espousing a 'sky is falling mentality' for their own personal gain.
Have a voice in your future by joining FKCFA.