The University of Southern Mississippi's Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (GCRL) received three separate donations this past week from local and regional fly-fishing groups -- The International Federation of Fly Fishers, Gulf Coast Council (IFFF-GCC), and the Historic Ocean Springs Saltwater Fly Fishing club (HOSSFLY).
The donations support the efforts of GCRL's Marine Education Center in a variety of summer camp programs for students ages 6 through 18. Specifically, the monies will help get a brand new Saltwater Fly Fishing Camp launched and also provide scholarship money for several students to attend who may not otherwise be financially able.
The donations will also serve to further research on tarpon, which is being done by GCRL's Center for Fisheries Research and Development by senior research scientist Jim Franks.
The IFFF-GCC is a regional council of the IFFF, a 46-year-old international non-profit organization dedicated to the betterment of the sport of fly-fishing through Conservation, Restoration and Education. The Federation of Fly Fishers and its Councils are the only organized advocate for fly fishers on a regional, national and international level. Today the IFFF has grown to 16 councils, approximately 225 clubs and 13,000 individual members.
The donation of $2000 to GCRL's Marine Education Center (MEC) made by the IFFF-GCC represents proceeds from the Gulf Coast Fly Fishing Fair held by the group back in September at the Ocean Springs Civic Center. The Fair featured a variety of silent auctions and raffles for rods, reels, equipment and artwork as well as fly tying demonstrations by fly tiers from five states, and programs specifically for scouts and outdoor vendors.
“This wonderful donation by the IFFC's Gulf Coast Council will allow us to make the MEC's summer camps available to a group of youngsters that otherwise would be unable to attend,” said Chris Snyder, director of GCRL's Marine Education Center. ”These camps provide an opportunity for them to learn how to enjoy the coastal habitat they live in and all that it provides while gaining an understanding of their role and responsibilities in managing and protecting it for generations to come. Without this partnership we would not be able to reach these kids.”
It was during this event weekend that the IFFF presented GCRL with its 2014 Conservation Award. The Fair was well attended and plans for next year's event are already underway for the 2015 Fair, which will be held Sept. 18 and 19.
The other two donations were made by HOSSFLY, a fly-fishing club that has been active in Ocean Springs since 1968. The group is one of the oldest, largest and most active fly fishing clubs on the Gulf Coast; they get together for sportsmanship, fellowship, conservation and learning through the sport of fly-fishing.
The donation of $600 to GCRL's MEC will go to fund two scholarships to the newest summer camp offering, Saltwater Fly Fishing. The additional donation went toward GCRL's ongoing research on tarpon.
“HOSSFLY's generous donation of $1,000 to the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory's Tarpon Research Program is deeply appreciated and of tremendous significance to our field and laboratory studies focused on all life stages and habitats of tarpon in Mississippi waters”, said Jim Franks, GCRL fisheries biologist and principal tarpon researcher. “We are grateful and very fortunate to have HOSSFLY as a long-standing partner in tarpon research, as well as a staunch supporter of GCRL's research and education programs.
“Primary funding for the Tarpon Research Program is provided by the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (MDRM), and the combined support given the program by the MDMR and HOSSFLY is resulting in a greater understanding of critical aspects of the biology and ecology of tarpon (from larvae to large adults) in our local waters”.
HOSSFLY has named GCRL a conservation partner and will continue to work alongside scientists and researchers to promote coastal stewardship along with sportsmanship and conservation of the natural resources so prevalent to the coastal communities along the Gulf of Mexico.