February 23, 2021
Bonefish & Tarpon Trust (BTT) has announced its 2020 Circle of Honor Awards. The induction ceremony was to take place at BTT’s 7th Annual Professional Science Symposium & Flats Expo, but the November event was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Flats Stewardship Award goes annually to “a scientist or conservationist who has significantly contributed to the stewardship of flats species and habitats.” The 2020 award went to Dr. Andy Danylchuk, Ph.D., a fish biologist from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Danylchuk has been integral in identifying where bonefish spawn. His research has led to protection of important nurseries, and education about proper fish-handling skills to prolong the lives of both freshwater and saltwater gamefish.
The Curt Gowdy Memorial Award went to Chico Fernandez, who has penned many articles and books on flats species. He grew up fishing in Cuba, and continues to promote responsible angling and conservation today through multiple mediums. Gowdy is a former sportscaster, BTT ambassador, the namesake of a state park in Wyoming, and a 2005 inductee of the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame.
Finally, The Lefty Kreh Award, which is granted to an individual who has demonstrated “an enduring commitment to the conservation of [flats species]” was given to Sandy Moret. This is BTT’s most prestigious award. Moret, a founding BTT member, was Fly Fisherman’s 2018 Conservationist of the Year in recognition his work in protecting and restoring the Everglades.
According to Aaron Adams, Ph.D., director of science and conservation and senior scientist at Florida Atlantic University: “Bonefish & Tarpon Trust created [these three awards] in 2011 as a way to honor the unsung actions of those who have contributed to flats conservation. Often, the recipients are well-known in the flats-fishing world, but their contributions to conservation generally fly under the radar. Each of this year’s recipients fits the mold of hard-charging anglers with a passion for the flats who also make a concerted effort to give back to the fishery through conservation. I think Chico said it best: ‘I used to just go fishing, have a good time, and then went home. But then I realized that if we want fishing to be there in the future we need to make a difference to conservation.’”