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Wayne Meland Continues Conservation Service at BTT

Wayne Meland developed his deep appreciation for conservation while pursuing his passion for fishing. His dedication and commitment to conversation causes has led him to help several organizations spread the word, raise funds, and respond to the most significant challenges facing Florida’s fisheries.

A resident of Naples since 1995 who now works as a Senior Vice President at The Beacon Group of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management in Naples, FL, Meland extended that record of service by recently joining the board of Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, a non-profit science-based organization dedicated to conserving and restoring bonefish, tarpon and permit fisheries and habitats through research, stewardship, education and advocacy.

“I feel it is every generation’s duty to leave our natural surroundings in at least as good shape as they were when we inherited them,” Meland said.

Meland grew up in Medina, New York, where he learned to fish in the Erie Canal, Oak Orchard River, and Lake Ontario. While he still enjoys coldwater fishing for pike, walleye, and smallmouth bass in the wilderness of Canada, he is now a devoted saltwater angler who especially enjoys fishing for permit on the flats. His involvement in conservation was first sparked after reading the “2005 Estuaries Report Card” compiled by the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. 

“Basically, the state of Florida collects water samples and files them away,” he said. “The Conservancy compiled the state’s data into a report and assigned grades for the 10 major estuaries in southwest Florida, from coastal Venice to the 10,000 Island. Seeing the degrading water quality where I loved to fish is what really got me going. You can’t have great fishing without clean water.”

Meland went on to chair the organization’s RedSnook catch and release fishing tournament five times and coined the tournament’s slogan: Clean Water, More Fish. The proceeds went to support water quality programs and launch a juvenile gamefish study.

As a board member at BTT, he has come to appreciate the organization’s science-based, wholistic approach to flats conservation.

“BTT is taking into account the whole picture of what is needed to protect, conserve and restore bonefish, tarpon and permit fisheries,” said Meland. “BTT has combined habitat preservation and restoration, water quality, migration and spawning pattern research, genetic sampling, international education and conservation efforts, and is knocking on the door of spawning and raising juvenile bonefish in captivity.”

Meland also noted that BTT has grown by leaps and bounds in the 20 years since its founding by a group of avid fishermen who wanted to protect what they loved.

“Of course, the fish are still the base, but BTT’s efforts benefit everyone who lives in or visits the areas where bonefish, tarpon and permit live by helping people to realize the economic value of their fisheries, and the importance of preserving and protecting them.”

In Meland’s view, which is shared by many conservation-minded anglers, it doesn’t matter if you fish or not; the flats and nearshore waters of Florida and the Caribbean are beautiful and need to be protected. 

“The number one thing that people can do to help is to stay on their state and local politicians with regards to water issues, both quality and supply,” said Meland. “Making sure the flow of the Everglades is returned to as close to it possible to its natural flow should make great strides to improving the water quality and supply for all of south Florida from Lake Okeechobee through the Keys.”

BTT President Jim McDuffie credits Meland with helping BTT get out its important conservation message and recruit new friends in Naples and across Florida.

“Wayne has been a great ambassador for our organization,” McDuffie said. “Whether it’s walking the aisles with us at major industry shows, serving on committees such as our International Science Symposium, or co-hosting BTT’s annual gathering in Naples, Wayne’s advocacy and service have been so valuable in advancing our mission. We’re very fortunate to have him on the BTT team.”