Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) have single-handedly created a charter fishing shoulder season, according to former Okaloosa County Commissioner Kelly Windes. Windes, a charter boat captain, wants the commission to make a $500,000 investment in even more of the large concrete structure dropped to the bottom of the gulf near Destin.
“But,” Windes noted, “the slight Achilles heel to this is that all boats have to run 60-80 miles – and not all boats are capable of running that far.”
Windes hopes to add FADs closer to shore so that smaller boats can take advantage of the excellent fishing that pops up around them once they are in place.
“It used to be that if you caught 15-20 blue marlin in a year, that was something to brag about. One boat last season caught 12 blue marlin in a week last April around one FAD,” Windes said. “That’s enough fish stories from me for a day,” Windes added to laughter from the crowd.
Commissioners Mel Ponder and Carolyn Ketchel received the proposal positively, and they wanted to move forward with a resolution of support immediately. Commissioner Goodwin told the pair that this presentation was only to get consensus from the board about moving forward with a working relationship. The working group will include Windes, Tourism Director Jennifer Adams, and Marine Resource Manager Alex Fogg.
Commissioner Carolyn Ketchel noted that the FADs attracted both fish and tourists to our area and asked Windes what the cost would be and where the money to pay for it, in theory, would come. Windes told the commission he thinks the cost for four more FADs would land somewhere in the $500,000 range – and the money would come from taxes levied on hotels for tourism development.
Now that the county’s employees have formal permission to develop a plan to build and deploy more FADs, the next step is to create one.
After they make a plan, it’ll go to the board for an up, down, or modification.
Long story short – there could be more FADs coming to the waters of the Emerald Coast – and more tourists visiting Destin in the shoulder season and the summer.
Get all of the local news you want, without slogging through Facebook.
Learn about what’s going on at town hall, hear inspiring stories about your neighbors and find out what new businesses are coming to town!
Sign up for our weekly newsletter now and get all the news you need to know, once per week!