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Researcher and officer receive awards from Florida Guides Association

News Release

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Media contact: Kelly Richmond, 727-224-6720 or; Rob Klepper, 850-617-9666 or

Photos available on the FWC’s Flickr site: External Website

The Florida Guides Association honored two Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) staff members today at the Commission meeting in Sarasota.

FWC biologist John Hunt received the Capt. Phil Chapman Award, which is presented by FGA to those who display a passionate commitment to the conservation of Florida’s marine fisheries.

John Hunt

Hunt has been at the forefront of marine fisheries research efforts in the Florida Keys for nearly 30 years. He has been instrumental in numerous conservation and scientific efforts aimed at ensuring these fragile ecosystems endure for generations to come.

“To best conserve the Keys and other unique Florida ecosystems, we need sound science and a collective problem-solving approach that relies upon strong partnerships among government, industry, stakeholders and environmental groups,” said Gil McRae, director of FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute. “John embodies that philosophy and has directly contributed to keeping the Keys a pristine ecological environment and recreational destination.”

Hunt is a world-renowned lobster biologist. His contributions to conservation include research and monitoring work for the multimillion-dollar Caribbean spiny lobster fishery in Florida, additions to the body of science on reef fish ecology and conservation – particularly regarding the effectiveness of marine protected areas – and leadership for the establishment of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, the Tortugas Ecological Reserve and the recently established Dry Tortugas Research Natural Area. 

“Perhaps, most importantly, John is a tireless advocate for his staff within the agency,” McRae said. “He has repeatedly shown admirable dedication and commitment to his staff, serving as a model for all of us with his leadership, compassion and courage.”

“It’s an honor to receive an award from the Florida Guides Association because they are such leaders in conservation,” Hunt said.

Capt. Pat Kelly, Florida Guides Association president, presented FWC officer Michael Bibeau of Hillsborough County with the “Trained Eyes Coastwatchers” Officer of the Year award.


Bibeau patrols his home county of Pinellas where he maintains strong working relationships with local partner agencies in enforcing conservation rules and regulations as well as promoting education and conservation stewardship among those enjoying Florida’s natural resources.

 “We’re honored that Officer Bibeau, who also  is our current FWC Officer of the Year, was chosen for this award,” said FWC Col. Curtis Brown. “He is a fine example of our dedicated law enforcement officers who are out there every day protecting the public and conserving Florida’s natural resources.”

His actions set an example that reaches statewide through his leadership as a field training officer and on FWC’s Special Operations Group and Advanced Conservation Training Academy as well as participating in the Great American Teach-In program.

“This is such an honor for me to receive this award from the Florida Guides Association,” Bibeau said. “The hard work of my brothers and sisters in conservation law enforcement inspires me to do my job every day to the best of my ability.”

FWC Facts:
The Florida Bird Conservation Initiative is a voluntary, public-private partnership that seeks to promote the sustainability of native Florida birds and their habitats.

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