News Releases

FWC scientist recognized for contributions to bass research, conservation, management

News Release

Monday, March 23, 2015

Media contact: Brandon Basino, 727-502-4789

Recently, Wes Porak of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Fish and Wildlife Research Institute won the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Southern Division of the American Fisheries Society.

Porak was nominated for the award by his colleagues  ̶  for his leading role in conserving black bass diversity, genetic conservation and fisheries management  ̶  but he’s not accepting it without them.

“Genetic conservation programs for Florida’s native black bass species have been developed for more than a decade through the leadership of Rick Stout, Dick Krause and myself, and never would have happened without the technical expertise of Dr. Brandon Barthel and Dr. Mike Tringali, geneticists with FWRI,” said Porak.

Through Porak’s leadership and the group’s pioneering work, FWRI scientists have completed statewide genetic population surveys of native Florida bass, Suwannee bass and shoal bass. To maintain the genetic integrity of our native bass species, every brood fish at the Florida Black Bass Conservation Center is screened to ensure that only genetically pure Florida bass are stocked into peninsular lakes.

“A high conservation priority for black bass is imperative because the recreational fishing industry for native black bass species statewide contributes more than $1 billion annually to the state’s economy,” Porak said. “Even more important, these black bass species are significant as apex predators in Florida’s lakes, rivers and estuaries.”

In addition to Porak’s genetic conservation work, he has influenced aquatic plant management strategies for the benefit of black bass habitat, helped enact size limits on bass over 15 years ago, and has more recently contributed to the rule-making process regarding restrictions on the importation of nonnative northern largemouth bass.

“His efforts to advance the science in genetic conservation, life history and population dynamics of black bass have resulted in monumental management policies and actions,” said Jason Dotson, FWRI Freshwater Fisheries section leader. “Wes is a natural leader who exhibits passion, enthusiasm, dedication and a positive outlook that is infectious to his colleagues. I can say without hesitation that FWC is a better agency and the state of Florida is a better place to fish, now and in the future, due to Wes’ career contributions.”

To learn more about Florida’s black bass and black bass conservation, visit MyFWC.com/Research and select “Freshwater” then “Freshwater Sport Fishes.” For more information on how anglers can conserve Florida’s black bass populations through the FWC’s TrophyCatch program, visit MyFWC.com/TrophyCatchProgram.



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