Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival


Published in: on January 19, 2015 at 8:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Cortezian – Winter 2015

Attached is the Winter 2015 issue of the Cortezian, with news and information about The Cortez Village and work of the Cortez Village Historical Society.

Upcoming Events:

33rd Annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival

February 14-15, 2015

It will be held on the waterfront at end of and along 119th Street. Check the FISH web page for details.

Cortez Annual Community Picnic is scheduled for April, 11, 2015 at the Public Dock next to Star Fish.

We are also including two surveys. One is to locate former residents of Cortez so CVHS can produce a directory of all the Cortez families. Please complete this for your family and return it to CVHS at cortezvillagehistoricalsociety

or by mail to CVHS PO BOX 663, Cortez Florida, 34215.

The 2nd Survey is to support use of Golf Carts in the Village. If you own property in Cortez, please complete the Golf Cart survey and return it to Golf Cart Survey PO Box 276 Cortez, FL 34215 or by email to cortezwood

Cortez Village Historical Society

PO BOX 663

Cortez, FL 34215



Golf Cart Survey.pdf

Where Did all the Cortezians go.pdf

The Cortezian 022015.pdf

Published in: on January 19, 2015 at 3:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

Golf Cart Survey

Cortez Property Owners –

Please complete this survey to support use of Golf Carts in the village. Return the completed survey to:

Golf Cart Survey

PO BOX 276

Cortez, FL 34215

or email to cortezwood

Golf Cart Survey.pdf

Published in: on January 19, 2015 at 11:46 am  Comments (1)  

Grace Maxine Jenkins

Grace Maxine Jenkins, 74, of Cortez, died Dec. 28. She was born July 17, 1940, in Waukegan, Illinois, to the late Max and Grace Pollock.

She served in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean and Vietnam wars. She moved to Cortez more than 45 years ago, relocating from Fort Walton Beach, and worked for A.P. Bell Fish Co. as a bookkeeper for 15 years. She also worked for other local companies and served as a board member of the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage in Cortez.

Services will be held at a later date. Memorial donations may be made to Tidewell Hospice. Shannon Funeral Homes of Bradenton was in charge of arrangements. Condolences may be made online at

She is survived by son Kenny and wife Anita of Cortez; grandchildren Maxine, Richard and Dalton; her faithful companion No Toes; and many extended family members and friends.

Published in: on January 6, 2015 at 7:48 am  Leave a Comment  

Did 1994 gill-net vote mislead?

Twenty years ago, Floridians approved a controversial gill-net ban. Controversy continues over the mesh size commercial fishermen are allowed to use, Video by Kevin Lollar

klollar 7:16 p.m. EST November 30, 2014

A commercial fisherman pulls in a net full of mullet in southern Pine Island Sound.(Photo: News-Press file photo)

For 20 years, Floridians ranging from self-proclaimed conservationists to politicians to newspaper editorial writers to recreational fishermen have insisted that the state’s gill-net ban is "the will of the people."

The question now is whether the people were duped into voting for the ban in November 1994 by a sophisticated propaganda campaign that included misrepresentation and reporters for major newspapers who were paid employees of the man behind the ban — two decades later, net-ban proponents continue to use questionable tactics to counter any challenges to the net ban.

"That’s how they won: They lied," Pine Island commercial fisherman Mike Dooley said. "If they hadn’t had the propaganda, the amendment wouldn’t have passed. But we didn’t have the money to fight them."

Save Our Sealife

In 1991, Karl Wickstrom, founder and publisher of Florida Sportsman magazine, started and became chairman of a group called Save Our Sealife (SOS), which collected more than 500,000 signatures to get a constitutional amendment that would ban the use of gill nets in state waters on the 1994 ballot.

Wickstrom and other gill-net opponents, including the Florida Conservation Association (now Coastal Conservation Association Florida), said gill nets were wiping out fish stocks and killing sea turtles, dolphins and birds.

SOS was the biggest player in the campaign: According to director Bill Coletti’s Linkedin website, the organization had a volunteer force of more than 13,000 people and a budget of $1.2 million, raised from more than 11,000 donors nationwide.

Amendment 3 — the net-ban amendment — was approved by 72 percent of those who voted on the issue. Sixty percent passage was needed.

Wickstrom wasn’t surprised by the outcome.

"That was quite a war," he said. "There was a lot of misinformation put out. People were saying their lives would be ruined. It didn’t turn out that way. Everything is better without gill nets."

Fisherman remove mullet from legal seine nets during a recent outing.(Photo: News-Press file photo)


In the years before the election, the net-ban lobby used classic propaganda tactics, including what is known as "demonizing the enemy," with commercial fishermen being depicted as white-booted thugs raping the environment.

According to a 2003 University of Florida study, information put out by net-ban proponents was "often insufficient and misleading. … Heartbreaking images of birds, dolphins, and sea turtles tangled in fishing nets led the public to believe that commercial fishing was not only degrading fisheries stocks but destroying Florida’s marine environment."

Among those images was an underwater photograph on an ubiquitous SOS pamphlet of a dead sea turtle entangled in a gill net; the pamphlet proclaimed, "Stop killer nets! Vote yes on Amendment 3." The problem is that the photograph was taken far offshore, not where Florida’s inshore commercial fishermen work.

At the suggestion that the pamphlet was misleading, Wickstrom said: "That’s really stretching. The purpose of the picture was to show a turtle in a gill net. It didn’t give an exact location. But the tragedy of it was very clear. There was nothing misleading about it. It’s simply showing a turtle in a net."

Other heartbreaking images appeared in an SOS television advertisement:

● Video of baskets of dead fish being dumped over the side of a boat; the implication was that Florida’s inshore commercial fishermen killed vast numbers of non-target fish. In reality, the video was shot in 1988 aboard the University of Georgia’s research vessel Georgia Bulldog as scientists were doing research on shrimp nets in the Atlantic Ocean near Cape Canaveral.

● Video of a sea turtle entangled in a net. Implication: Florida’s inshore commercial fishermen killed sea turtles. Reality: The video was shot on the same 1988 trip aboard the Georgia Bulldog; the turtle was tagged and returned to the water in good health.

"That’s so silly," Wickstrom said when asked whether the ad was misleading. "It was to show what a shrimper looks like. It’s not a big thing. If you ran a picture of a car to indicate a car, it’s not important who owns the car or where it is."

Wickstorm’s answer dodges the question: Amendment 3 had nothing to do with the shrimp industry, which does not use gill nets, so showing "what a shrimper looks like" to convince people to vote for the amendment makes no sense other than to fool the public into thinking all commercial nets are gill nets.


Controlling the press

When a government launches a propaganda campaign, its first move is usually to control the press.

Wickstrom controlled an important portion Florida’s press during the campaign: Outdoors writers for five major newspapers who wrote in favor of the net ban before the election were also paid employees of Florida Sportsman — Frank Sargeant, Tampa Tribune; Richard Farren, Tallahassee Democrat, listed on the Florida Sportsman masthead before the election as an editor at large; Bill Sargent, Florida Today and Florida Sportsman East Central Florida field editor; Richard Bowles, Gainesville Sun and Florida Sportsman Big Bend field editor; and Byron Stout, The News-Press and Florida Sportsman Southwest Florida field editor.

In an email to The News-Press, Lyn Millner, associate professor of journalism at Florida Gulf Coast University, wrote that reporters who write in favor of an issue before an election while being paid by a proponent of one side of the issue have "a clear ethical conflict of interest," and the effect of such a conflict on the election would be "in the range of significant to huge."

Wickstrom disagreed.

"It wasn’t just our people," he said. "Outdoors writers everywhere were writing about it. Almost everyone favored getting rid of gill nets, except the ones who were using them, and they were dealing strictly with their wallets."

Stout didn’t see a conflict either, because, he said, the Florida Conservation Association started SOS and the net-ban movement, while Wickstrom and Florida Sportsman merely "endorsed the campaign" and weren’t the "driving force" behind it.

"Karl Wickstrom is a savvy communicator," Stout said. "To what extent he participated in the net-ban campaign, I don’t know. I had nothing to do with it. I always wrote what I thought was right, whether I agreed with (the net-ban lobby’s) position or not."

In a Nov. 15, 1995, story, Stout contradicted his assertion that Wickstrom had little to do with the net-ban campaign: "Karl Wickstrom, who conceived and led the Save Our Sealife initiative to ban gill and entangling nets from Florida waters, came to Fort Myers on Tuesday with a glowing report."

Fish numbers

An argument often put forth by outdoors writers in their newspapers was that gill nets almost wiped out Florida’s redfish population in the 1980s — the cover story of the December 2013 issue of Florida Sportsman makes the same claim.

But Mike Murphy, a senior research scientist at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, said "the most significant part" of the redfish harvest was recreational. In the 1980s, there was no recreational bag limit, a 12-inch minimum size and no closed season for redfish, so sport fishermen were keeping as many very small and very large reds as they wanted.

New regulations in 1989 included a recreational bag limit, an 18- to 27-inch slot size and a three-month closed season and prohibited the commercial harvest of redfish; the recreational harvest dropped from between 600,000 and 1 million redfish a year to about 200,000, and the commercial harvest dropped from 200,000 to zero.

Redfish populations started rebounding before the 1994 election, and the net ban, which went into effect July 1, 1995, had no effect on redfish because commercial fishermen hadn’t harvested the species for six years — returning to pre-election tactics, though, the December 2013 Florida Sportsman cover story states, "In 1996, the closed season was dropped thanks to a resurgent redfish population aided by the absence of gill nets that had plagued Florida waters until banned in 1994 by state constitutional amendment."

Another issue was seatrout, whose populations were collapsing in the early 1990s; outdoors writers blamed gill nets.

According to state statistics, during the 10 years before the net ban, commercial fishermen harvested an average of 1.14 million pounds of seatrout a year, compared to 4.44 million harvested by recreational fishermen.

Seatrout expert Steve Bortone, former executive director of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, said gill nets "had something to do with" Florida’s low seatrout populations.

"But most data show gill nets weren’t responsible for it," he said. "Most biologists believe it was habitat decline, the loss of seagrasses.

"The net ban was a kind of economic racism. A bunch of people whose livelihoods didn’t depend on net fishing decided to gang up on a group that couldn’t defend itself. It’s a shame."

Rhonda Dooley, Mike Dooley’s wife, said the pro-ban tactics made the outcome of the election inevitable.

"They were showing dead sea turtles and dolphins caught in nets and saying we were catching all the fish," she said. "The public had no knowledge other than what was being propagated by the net-ban people. If I’d been on the outside looking in and had seen all that on TV and read about it in the paper, I would have voted for the amendment, too."

Jim Frock, owner of Seven C’s Bait & Tackle Shop in Matlacha did vote for the amendment based on what he saw on television and read in the paper.

"It was b.s.," he said. "I thought the commercial guys were killing a lot of other fish and that the net ban would drastically improve recreational fishing. But I was ignorant in my assumption. I should have known better. The net ban hurt a lot of people who didn’t deserve it."

Will of the people

After the election, "will of the people" became the catch phrase for net-ban supporters whenever anyone questioned the ban.

For example, Ted Forsgren, executive director of the Florida Conservation Association, said in April 1995 that state budget cuts that would make enforcement of the net ban difficult were "just a shot at trying to overturn the will of the overwhelming majority of the people of this state."

But Florida’s population in 1990 was 13 million, and 2.8 million people voted for the amendment. That’s 22 percent of the population, not "the overwhelming majority of the people of this state."

"Will of the people" rhetoric continued for 20 years, especially after Judge Jackie Fulford of the Second Judicial Circuit ruled in October 2013 that the net ban is a "legal absurdity" and would no longer be enforced.

A Nov. 12, 2013, Florida Times Union editorial, for example, states: "But the real absurdity is that a single circuit court judge can issue a ruling that overturns the will of the state’s voters."

In another return to pre-election tactics, Coastal Conservation Association-Florida started an online petition drive to give recreational fishermen a voice on Fulford’s ruling. The petition declared, "Reinstate the ‘Net Ban’ and heed the will of 72% of Florida Voters!"

Featured on the website were the words "Do you like dead turtles" and an underwater photograph of five dead sea turtles caught in a net.

But the turtles didn’t die in Florida gill nets: The photograph was taken off the coast of Brazil and has appeared on numerous websites, including

On July 7, 2014, the First District Court of Appeal overturned Fulford’s ruling.

What if?

Net-ban advocates point to the overwhelming 72 percent of the vote on Amendment 3 to prove that the net ban is the will of the people.

One can only wonder what the will of the people would have been in November 1994 if not for the questionable tactics of net-ban advocates.

"What’s the old saying? Don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story," said Jerry Sansom, executive director of Organized Fishermen of Florida. "You can never be sure about what-ifs, but any time folks use misleading or erroneous information to get what they want, you have to believe people would have made a different decision if they hadn’t been lied to.

"It was a collective effort: Somebody yelled, ‘They’re raping the environment.’ They got people whipped up and turned them loose."

The will of the people

In November 1994, Amendment 3, which banned the use of gill nets in state waters, passed with 72 percent of the vote. Since then, net-ban supporters have insisted that the net ban was the will of the people, but Florida’s population in 1990 was 13 million; 2,876,091 people or 22 percent of the population, voted for the amendment.

Here are a few examples of "will of the people" rhetoric found on the internet:

Here are a few examples found on the Internet:

● Editorial in Daytona Beach News-Journal, June 22, 1995: "Public debate on the net ban amendment was thorough in the months before the election. The suit is intended to overturn the will of the people, not to clarify it." Commercial fishermen were suing the state to block the net ban.

● Sun Sentinel editorial, Sept. 23, 1996: "A handful of willful, lawless net fishermen should not be allowed to undermine the will of the people, sound fish management practices and good public policy."

● State Senator Charlie Crist, Nov. 7, 1996, at a hearing of the Marine Fisheries Commission about an emergency rule to ban the use of a hybrid net to harvest mullet: "You have the opportunity to ban these nets now under this emergency rule. I urge you to do the right thing for our environment. I request that you uphold the will of the people and approve this important rule."

● Sarasota Herald Tribune, March 13, 1997: "The Palm Harbor Republican (Jack Latvala) said the will of the people, who voted overwhelmingly for the net ban amendment to the state constitution, was being thwarted."

● Sun Sentinel editorial, April 13, 1997: "Tougher rules are vital because many net fishermen have thumbed their noses at the law and the will of the people."

● Ted Forsgren, executive director of the Florida Conservation Association (now Coastal Conservation Association-Florida), in The Tampa Tribune, June 4, 2008: "A constitutional amendment cannot be changed by a state rule or legislation; it’s the will of the people of Florida specifically expressed." In 2008, FWC Commissioner Rodney Barreto said the commission could change mesh size any time they want, and in November 2013, Florida constitutional law expert Talbot "Sandy" D’Alemberte told The News-Press that if the amendment is found to be invalid, the state could choose not to apply it.

Note: In October 2013, Jackie Fulford of the Second Judicial Circuit ruled that the net ban is a "legal absurdity" and would no longer be enforced. Net-ban supporters insisted Fulford’s ruling went against the will of the people. On July 7, 2014, the First District Court of Appeal overturned Fulford’s ruling.

● Recreational Fishing Alliance, Nov. 6, 2013: "The future of Florida’s natural resource — and the will of the people — was completely undermined last week, as Leon County Circuit judge Jackie Fulford overturned the voter-approved, constitutionally protected net ban, while paving the way for wide-scale decimation of Florida fish stocks."

● Manley Fuller, general council Florida Wildlife Federation, May, 25, 2014, guest opinion Naples Daily News: "Since 1994, many unsuccessful lawsuits have been filed to overturn the will of the voters. … The will of the people should be supported, even in the face of over 20 years of fruitless attacks."

● Tampa Tribune, July 15, 2014: "The appeals court decision may not be the end of the litigation. The netters will likely plan other attacks. But after 20 years, it’s time the commercial fishing industry accepted the will of the people and the law."

Published in: on November 30, 2014 at 10:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

Addie Lou Guthrie Koon

Addie Lou Guthrie Koon, 87, of Sarasota passed away on Sunday, November 2, 2014.

Born in Cortez, Florida she had been a local resident for 54 years. Mrs. Koon was a member of South Trail Church of Christ and she enjoyed taking care of her family, especially her grandchildren and great grandchildren. She also enjoyed cooking, camping and sewing.

Survivors include her loving husband of 67 years, Edward, sons, Edward C. Koon; Paul Dennis Koon; three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at the South Trail Church of Christ on Friday, November 7, 2014 at 11:00 a.m. Interment will be at Sarasota National Cemetery at a later date. Arrangements by All Veterans-All Families Funerals & Cremations.

Published in: on November 9, 2014 at 3:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

Cortez Stone Crab Festival this weekend




The Stone Crab Festival will raise funds to keep an appeal
to lift the net ban in front of the Florida Supreme Court.

CORTEZ – Stone crab is at the top of the menu at the Third Annual ortez Stone Crab Festival on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 8 and 9, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sarasota Bay at the end of 119th Street West.

The free festival will feature music by the Bobby G Band, Razing Cane, Karen and the Big Bad Wolves, Doug Deming, Reid Frost, Brandi and the Ride, Eric von Hahmann and Ted Stevens and the Doo-Shots.

Besides stone crabs fresh from the Cortez docks, the menu includes Cortez hot dogs (mullet dogs), pizza, shrimp and grits, and other fresh-from-Florida seafood, with freshly-made pina coladas with the coconuts opened by machete while you wait. You can also browse the work of local artists, and there are pony rides for the kids.

The festival is a fundraising effort by the Swordfish Grill, the Flippin’ Mullet Sports Bar, Cortez Bait and Seafood, N.E. Taylor Boatworks and the Cortez Kitchen for Fishing for Freedom, which supports a pending appeal to the Florida Supreme Court to reverse the 1995 state constitutional amendment banning gill nets.

The state’s highest court is not under any obligation to take the case, according to lawyers for the plaintiffs, The Wakulla Commercial Fishermen’s Association, Panacea bait shop owner Ronald Fred Crum and mullet fishermen Jonas Porter and Keith Ward, who sued the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in 2012, arguing that its enforcement of the net ban actually creates the unintended bycatch that the ban was designed to prevent.

Fishing for Freedom members plan to display fishing nets at the festival with models of different sized fish, including adult and juvenile mullet, to demonstrate how the banned gill nets target legal size mullet and let juvenile fish escape.

During its various appeals, the case has resulted in the net ban being temporarily lifted twice. In the most recent decision, the First District Court of Appeal reversed the decision lifting the net ban, putting the ban back in place, and prompting the appeal to the Florida Supreme Court.

The ban was approved by Florida voters in 1994 to preserve fish populations and prevent the accidental entrapment of unintended marine life. The ban became effective in 1995, putting commercial fishermen out of work in Cortez and statewide.

Published in: on November 5, 2014 at 9:38 am  Leave a Comment  

Cortez Fishermen Make Heavy Catch

From the Tampa Tribune – November 16, 1916

Tampa Tribune November 16, 1913

Published in: on October 2, 2014 at 9:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

Lecture Series Begins Again at FMM!

Lecture Series Begins Again at FMM!

Published in: on September 2, 2014 at 11:34 am  Leave a Comment  

Sunday Favorites: The Storm that Crushed Cortez

Published Sunday, August 10, 2014 12:05 am

by Merab-Michal Favorite

The Albion Inn of Cortez as it looked before the hurricane of 1921.

It came without warning. At least, that’s how folks in Cortez remember it. Back in 1921, there was only one telephone in the village.

The western skyline was already black by the time it rang. The loud drone of the telephone startled Mr. Brown, who owned the village’s only general store. When he picked up the receiver someone from Western Union relayed pertinent information.

“A hurricane is headed your way,” they said.

But by then, it was too late.

Bill Guthrie’s family owned the Albion Inn.

Guthrie had been through storms before, but nothing like the storm of 1921.

“Usually the tide would come over and we’d wade around here in knee deep water,” he said during a 1957 interview with the Manatee County Historical Society.

The Albion Inn as it looked following the hurricane of 1921.

There were no preparations made: no windows boarded up, no supplies collected.

It had stormed all night and the tides and rain flooded Cortez.

The next morning, when folks woke up to find water in their homes, they decided to abandon their small village and head to Bradenton.

“You see, it taken quite a time for the seas to beat these buildings down,” Guthrie said.

Doris Green was only six years old at the time, but she remembers the tide lifting her home from its foundation and carrying it away.

“It just floated off like a big ol’ wooden box,” she said during the interview. “The tide just set it down further out.”

Doris remembers seeing other houses float out to sea before her eyes.

The hurricane of 1921 destroyed all the fishing docks in Cortez Fishing Village.

Cortez was a fishing community. Many of the fisherman at that time lived in fish camps, or shacks on stilts over the water surrounded by docks and net spreads were they could dry their nets and catches at the end of the day. The hurricane destroyed the majority of these fishing operations, along with many of the offshore vessels used by the fishermen.

Guthrie knew he had to get his family out, but the only way to escape the rising tides was by boat.

Guthrie, three women, the dog and a baby loaded into a small boat and head into Bradenton. They made it as far as Paradise Trailer Park, 10315 Cortez Road, before trying to call for help.

The heavy winds had ripped down the power lines, so calling for help was impossible.

Guthrie threw his 2-year-old daughter, Margarite, over his shoulder and started walking. His wife and kids followed behind, Guthrie’s body shielding them from the pelting rain.

Through the stormy gusts Guthrie could see something coming toward them, a car. An unknown man from Bradenton had come to the rescue. Guthrie and his family loaded into the vehicle and headed to the Bradenton Hotel on Main Street.

There was no room for Guthrie, so he left his family and went to another hotel to seek shelter.

A family sorts through the wreckage of their former home, destroyed by the hurricane.

The man and his family returned to Cortez the next day to view the destruction.

“It was a sorry sight,” he remembered. “The whole hotel was gone. There was nothing left but pilings and boats piled up on top of each other.”

The whole waterfront was gone, but inland homes remained. Guthrie says the southeastern winds were the reason the waterfront was destroyed.

But people gathered their belongings from the wreckage along the shoreline and started over.

Published in: on August 10, 2014 at 8:17 am  Leave a Comment