b"annual contest standingsflashbacksThe FWC Field Lab & The Fishing Clubby Tom Twyford, WPBFC PresidentTraveling US1 between Palm Beach and Martinvarious biological sampling Counties, you may not notice Floridas Fishprograms.Charter boats and & Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) fieldcrews played a vital role, as did laboratory in Tequesta.The role the lab playsthe taxidermy industry.This early spirit of public-private in marine research is far more impressive thancooperation is among the Fishing Clubs many conserva-the unassuming appearance of the compound. tion legacies and is still practiced today, along with other The West Palm Beach Fishing Club (WPBFC) andorganizations like The Billfish Foundation, The Dolphinfish its members have long supported this lab andResearch Program, Palm Beach County DERM and many its important fish and wildlife research.In fact,others.In 1974 a second biologist was added, Edwin Irby, the labs roots can be traced back to the WPBFCwho later ascended the agencys leadership becoming As-clubhouse. This is the story of how the FWRIsistant Division Director, in FDNRs Office of Fisheries laboratory came to be located inManagement and Assistance Services.As an aside, Irby our backyard would also meet his future wife at the WPBFC.They have been together for over 42 years.Crime played a role in the laboratorys next move.Crime I n the late 1960s, Atlantic sailfish, long a staple of therates in the mid 1970s in southeast Florida became more recreational and charter boat industries in southeastsignificant.Sadly, the WPBFC was not immune and the Florida, reached its lowest levels of local availability sincelabs offices and the clubhouse were broken into several records were first kept in the 1930s.Catch and fishingtimes in a relatively short period.Despite the cooperative effort statistics were primarily from the WPBFCs Silverrelationship between the WPBFC and FDNR, word came Sailfish Derby, but other communities were complainingdown from the top that the lab needed to be moved out of too.Concerns prompted WPBFC President, John Rybo- the facility.vich, and others to pressure Florida Governor, ClaudeJolley and Irby located a new site on Belvedere Road east Kirk, to do something.A young biologist with the thenof I-95.Part of their decision was based on the fact that Florida Department of Natural Resources (FDNR) (nowit had only two doors and two small windows, therefore it called the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Com- was more secure.The new location was adequate, and its mission) named John Jolley, who was working on theowner sympathetic.The lab remained at this site for about states Research Vessel 'Hernan Cortez' on Floridas westfour years, picking up cooperative research on swordfish coast, was tapped by his supervisors towith the University of Miami and Dr. investigate.Jolley was a logical choiceEdward Houde and Steven Berke-since he grew up with fishing experi- ley, before it outgrew the space.It was ences in Palm Beach County.However,during this period the lab also began to FDNRs St. Petersburg based marineshift its focus.Research revealed that laboratory was financially strugglingfluctuations in local sailfish abundance at the time.So establishing a new fieldhad more to do with weather patterns office in West Palm Beach to study sail- than recreational and charter harvest fish required creativity and cooperativerates, or by-catch from commercial efforts between the state, locally basedlong lining efforts.The practice of Game Fish Research Association andcatch & release sailfishing, so heavily the WPBFC.The Fishing Club donatedpromoted by the WPBFC, was being space inside its building to house theembraced by more and more anglers field lab.Clerical support was providedand was also helping keep the fishery by WPBFC staff, Frances Doucet andhealthy.Additionally, by the late 1970s her assistants.The club also providedfederal resource officials wanted more office supplies.Costs to the state werecontrol and involvement with large pe-Jolleys salary, laboratory equipment,lagic fish research and management, and travel.To further maximize effi- John Jolley at Devane's Iceso the state lab concluded its billfish ciency, Rybovich was able to get WPBFCHouse in Riviera Beach(1975) .programs.All results were published and Sailfish Club of Florida membersDevane's also played a cooperativein various scientific journals.to donate use of their boats and crews,role in supplying sailfish samplesUnlike sailfish, snook stocks were who volunteered their expertise forfor the lab's research. not so healthy.Increased fishing pres-48 W estP almB eachF ishingc luB"