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Palm Beach County Fishing Foundation

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The Palm Beach County Fishing Foundation (PBCFF) was established to serve as the charitable affiliate of the West Palm Beach Fishing Club (WPBFC). For much of its storied history the WPBFC, founded in 1934, has fulfilled many important roles in the sport fishing community and been a tireless voice for conservation. However, the WPBFC’s tax status limited the organization’s ability to raise funds for its educational and conservation initiatives. In 1990, the board of directors took action to solve this dilemma by establishing a tax qualified 501(c) 3 charitable affiliate. As an extension of the fishing club, the PBCFF was created to address specific educational outreach needs and issues related to fishing and the health of our resources. There are few privately funded organizations which address all these issues. To accomplish its mission, the PBCFF conducts a variety of marine related programs and has achieved many significant conservation and educational milestones since inception. The following is a description of some of our current programs.

John Rybovich Endowment

PierIn 1992, the PBCFF Board of Directors approved the creation of the John Rybovich Endowment. This special fund was established to help ensure the financial stability and growth of the institution. To date, over $1,000,000 has been conntributed. The principal is invested with a long-term balanced strategy. Funds are professionally managed and regularly audited. Only earnings are used to help support board approved projects. Our goal is to raise over two million dollars. Reaching this financial milestone will help perpetuate educational and conservation initiatives and will give the foundation the ability to launch new programs.

Scholarships

The PBCFF annually awards scholarships at area universities and local high schools. Since 1994, the PBCFF has presented a marine biology scholarship to a deserving undergraduate student at Palm Beach Atlantic University (PBAU) for many years. The foundation has enjoyed a longstanding and positive relationship with PBAU’s Biology Department faculty members.

In 2003, the PBCFF expanded its scholarship program by establishing the Capt. Al Nathan Memorial Scholarship for a marine biology graduate enrolled in Florida Atlantic University’s (FAU) Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. Capt. Al Nathan was a lifetime member of the West Palm Beach Fishing Club and active in many of the club’s programs. We are thrilled to continue his legacy through this meaningful scholarship program.

The PBCFF / WPBFC also sponsors annual scholarship awards at the Rivera Beach Maritime Academy, Forrest Hill High School's Gale Academy of Environmental Science and Technology, Jupiter High School's Environmental Academy and at the City of Rivera Beach.

Kid’s Fishing Day

Oyser ProjectIt’s all about introducing kids to fishing and our marine environment! Since 1988, the Palm Beach County Fishing Foundation, along with the assistance of volunteers and important comminuty partners like the Marine Industries Association of Palm Beach County has conducted an annual Kid’s Fishing Day Program. Each year, hundreds of less fortunate, at-risk and special needs children from throughout Palm Beach County experience what most of us take for granted, a day of boating and fishing on the ocean. It takes three days and 12 separate drift boat trips to get all the kids on the water. More importantly, because of this program’s strong educational component, the kids learn all about our marine environment and why we need to protect it. This is accomplished through a variety of hands-on educational stations based on land, which includes the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Marine Touch Tank. Since the program's inception, well over 13,000 kids have participated.

Rods & Reels For Kids

The PBCFF’s Rods & Reels for Kids program was developed in 2001 under the leadership of the late Jim Ewing. The goal of this program is simply to place fishing tackle into the hands of kids and local youth groups that do not have adequate resources to obtain their own gear. To date, approximately two thousand rod and reel outfits have been donated to kids from throughout the region including Boys & Girls Clubs, Cub Scouts, and municipal recreation departments. The PBCFF collects used fishing tackle year-round from the public and fishing club volunteers refurbish the gear for distribution. New tackle is also purchased when necessary.

Habitat Initiatives

Palm Beach County has experienced tremendous coastal growth the last fifty years. As a result, loss of natural marine and estuarine habitat, increased fishing pressure and other environmental stressors have all contributed to a depletion of biodiversity and abundance. The PBCFF has identified and helped initiate specific projects designed to help improve our marine environment. In the 1960’s, under the leadership of John Rybovich, it was the West Palm Beach Fishing Club that first launched Palm Beach County’s artificial reef program. Today, the PBCFF continues to be actively involved in the program and members serve on the Artificial Reef Committee. We have partnered with Palm Beach County’s Environmental Resources Management Department in recent years on several reef-building projects. New reef designs are being planned. One area of particular focus has been habitat enhancement in the Lake Worth Lagoon. Over 85% of this area’s mangrove fringe, mud flats and oyster & sea grass beds have been destroyed or altered due to bulkhead development, dredge and fill operations and degraded water quality. The PBCFF has already experimented with sea wall mangrove planters and will be assisting with future mangrove and oyster enhancement projects. This program aiding local governmental efforts to improve the Lake Worth Lagoon represents cooperation with the private sector to benefit all taxpayers. The potential to mitigate environmental damage and increase healthy habitat within the lagoon is significant. The PBCFF will continue to play an important role.

Educational Seminars

Derby fleetA variety of youth groups regularly visit our historic facility to learn about our marine environment. Grade schoolers to college students use our facility as a field trip destination because of the impressive collection of fish mounts and historical memorabilia. The PBCFF also conducts specialized fishing seminars that promote new conservation techniques, such as proper catch & release methodology and the use of circle hooks. Promoting ethical angling practices is one of the PBCFF’s priorities.

Advocacy & Support

The PBCFF/WPBFC is an active advocate for issues relating to sustainable fishery management practices and habitat protection. We are frequently solicited to submit comments to fishery managers and government agencies on a variety of issues. We also host meetings with various resource managing agencies. Additionally, the PBCFF supports other organizations like the Coastal Conservation Association, National Coalition for Marine Conservation and The Billfish Foundation.

Historic Preservation

Founded in 1934, the West Palm Beach Fishing Club is one of the oldest and largest institutions of its kind in the country. Our facility was added to the West Palm Beach Register of Historic Places in 1998. The building has become a repository of sport fishing memorabilia, trophy game fish mounts and historical photographs which document the evolution of fishing in the region. As the curator of archives, the PBCFF is taking steps to preserve the history of sport fishing in the region and our unique role in Florida’s history. The U.S. Department of Interior added the WPBFC to the National Register of Historic Places in 2016.

A COPY OF THE PALM BEACH COUNTY FISHING FOUNDATION OFFICIAL REGISTRATION (NO. CH40192) AND FINANCIAL INFORMATION MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE DIVISION OF CONSUMER SERVICES BY CALLING TOLL-FREE 800-435-7352 WITHIN THE STATE. REGISTRATION DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT, APPROVAL, OR RECOMMENDATION BY THE STATE.

For more information on the Palm Beach County Fishing Foundation, please view our brochure.

History | Staff & Board | Palm Beach County Fishing Foundation | Sponsorship Opportunities | How You Can Help | Advocacy

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