FISH leadership remains intact, faces funding challenge

With no new candidates emerging to contest the annual Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage board election, five incumbents were set to retain office April 9.

Any FISH member who paid the $10 membership fee by April 2 could vote in the election. Official results were unavailable until after The Islander’s press time.

Candidates whose terms were expiring include president Kim McVey, vice president Jane von Hahmann and board members Kaye Bell, Plum Taylor and Janet Miller. All ran uncontested for three-year terms.

“I do it to keep informed and know what’s going on,” Bell said. “My husband was interested, and I guess it rubbed off.”

Taylor said she continues to remain involved because the position requires someone who cares to be effective.

“They can’t just sit on the board,” Taylor said.

Miller served six months after being appointed to fill out an unexpired term but said it was enough to make a lasting impression.

“I’m just amazed by all the important work they do,” Miller said.

The board priority will be to re-energize the Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival. Despite good weather, attendance fell an estimated 23.5 percent from 17,000 in 2017 to 13,000 this year.

For the first time, net festival proceeds will not cover $48,000 in annual FISH overhead costs, which will require a dip into reserves.

Treasurer Mike Northfield said he is still compiling festival revenues, which might net $40,000 compared with about $88,000 in 2017 and $128,000 in 2016.

“It’s a big drop for us. Next year we’re going to have to do a very good job and be very careful,” Northfield said.

Seeking to trim the shortfall, the board will focus on raising money during the 24-hour online Giving Challenge put on by the Community Foundation of Sarasota. The challenge runs online-only noon May 1 to noon May 2, when donations up to $100 will be matched.

“It’s a great way to leverage your money,” von Hahmann said. “It gives us an opportunity to fill in a little of that gap. We need to cover that loss.”

Miller said FISH must maximize donations.

“Believe me, that’s how the big operations do it. They structure it so every penny is getting matched,” said Miller.

In other action:

Board member Karen Bell, owner of Star Fish Co. Market & Restaurant and A.P. Bell Fish Co., reported commercial fishing is “not great.”

Founded in 1991, FISH supports a 95-acre preserve and boat-building and repair programs. FISH also works against land developments that threaten the commercial fishing way of life.

FISH was to meet at 7 p.m. Monday, April 9, at Fishermen’s Hall, 4511 124th St. W., after The Islander’s press time.


FISH officers at a glance

The following five nominees were running unopposed in the annual Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage board election held April 9, after The Islander press time.

Kaye Bell: A Cortez homeowner since 1977, Bell retired to the fishing village in 2004. Civic activities include seats on the FISH board and the Annie Silver Community Center board. She also is president of the Cortez Village Historical Society.

Kim McVey: A Cortez native, McVey is serving her fourth term as FISH president. She is employed at Cortez Bait & Seafood.

Janet Miller: The newest member of the FISH board with less than a year’s tenure, Miller has worked for Fidelity Bank in the Mount Vernon branch for 11 years.

Plum Taylor: A Cortez resident since 1953, Taylor took her husband Alcee’s seat when his health failed. She has 36 years service on the Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival Committee, which directs the annual FISH fundraiser.

Jane von Hahmann: A 43-year village resident with husband Rocky, she joined the FISH board in 2009, served as treasurer 2010-14 and is FISH vice president.

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