News Releases

Fishing association honors 2 FWC employees

News Release

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Media contact: Katie Purcell, 850-459-6585

The Florida Guides Association on June 12 honored two employees of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) for their conservation efforts.

Capt. Pat Kelly, Florida Guides Association president, presented FWC Officer Bryce Phillippi with the “Trained Eyes Coastwatchers” Officer of the Year award.

Wes Porak, a biologist with the FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, received the Capt. Phil Chapman Conservation Award.

Phillippi’s passion for many saltwater activities and desire for protecting Florida’s outdoors inspired him to become an FWC officer in 2010, after serving as a reserve officer for three years.

“Phillippi began working in Hillsborough County in 2012. During one of my first weeks as his supervisor, he asked me if he could work on his day off to investigate someone he suspected was illegally working commercial blue crab traps,” said FWC Lt. George Wells. “His hard work and determination paid off and he was able to catch the man and stop him from doing further harm to the resource and local economy.”

Phillippi protects not only the resources, but the boating public as well. In addition to cases made for undersized sheepshead, selling oysters without a saltwater products license, possession of goliath grouper and more, he has been involved in several search-and-rescue missions and boating accident investigations.

“Bryce always assists the boating public when they are in need and strives to teach them about safe boating,” Wells said. “His can-do attitude goes above and beyond the call of duty.”

Porak is the first freshwater biologist to receive the Capt. Phil Chapman Conservation Award. He has spent more than three decades as a state biologist contributing to the conservation of black bass and other freshwater fish for the FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute.

“Porak’s conservation efforts for freshwater fisheries and his mentoring of young biologists leave a legacy that will survive long beyond his retirement from the FWC,” said Jason Dotson, leader of the Institute’s Freshwater Fisheries Research Section. “I can say without any hesitation that the FWC is a better organization, and the state of Florida is a better place to fish because of his career contributions to conservation.”

Porak was also honored earlier this year with the Rich Cailteux Award by the Florida Chapter of the American Fisheries Society. The award recognizes individuals who have maintained a long-term commitment to research, management and/or conservation of Florida fisheries and aquatic resources.

FWC Facts:
Florida's Lake Trafford is the southernmost black crappie fishery in the United States.

Learn More at AskFWC