MADEIRA BEACH — David Jolly stood on the John's Pass boardwalk Thursday and talked about how his uncle taught him to scuba dive in the Gulf of Mexico as a kid.
His uncle was Heyward Mathews, an oceanography professor at St. Petersburg College, and the lessons also came with explanations of issues facing fisherman in the gulf waters. His uncle also was the Republican congressional candidate's link to the local fishing advocates who stood with Jolly on Thursday to endorse his candidacy.
They included: Madeira Beach Mayor Travis Palladeno; Fishing Rights Alliance Executive Director Dennis O'Hern; Southern Offshore Fishing Rights Association Bob Spaeth; and Hubbard's Marina president Mark Hubbard.
Jolly met with the advocates early in his campaign to outline his plan to reduce the number of fishery closures and enhance the local stock.
The plan calls for:
• Moving the decision-making process on fishery closures from the National Marine Fisheries Service in Washington to the regional council level closest to the local stakeholders. Locally, this would be the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Council.
• Removing the Department of Commerce's ability to veto gubernatorial appointments to the regional councils.
• Redirecting current funding to further invest in enhanced fish habitats and improve research related to the survivability of juvenile fish stocks.
"We're going to fight for the fishing industry right here," Jolly said Thursday. "We're fighting for the economic development of the region, we're fighting for the quality of life for every family here in Pinellas County."
In the heated Pinellas congressional race, Jolly's residence in Pinellas County and his previous experience with the late U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young is what won over Mark Hubbard.
"He's always been a friend of the fisheries and Pinellas County," he said.
Jolly will face Democrat Alex Sink and Libertarian Lucas Overby in the March 11 special election.
Colleen Wright can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8913. You can follow her on Twitter @Colleen_Wright.