Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

White House recognizes fisherman and John's Pass business owner: Five questions with Jason DeLaCruz


If he had his way, Jason DeLaCruz, 46, would spend more time spearfishing at his favorite area — the Florida Middle Grounds, about 100 miles offshore, with its reefs filled with grouper, hogfish and snapper. Instead, on most days, you can find him at Wild Seafood Co., a full-service fish house at John's Pass that he and his wife, Vicky, own.

That's where we caught up with him on a recent Monday, as he monitored the unloading of one of his fishing boats, the Miss Ruby. DeLaCruz, a Pinellas County native, also serves as executive director of Gulf Wild, a nonprofit organization focused on sustainable seafood, and as vice president of the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders' Alliance, an organization designed to protect the region's fishing communities.

DeLaCruz recently was honored as a White House Champion of Change, and along with 11 fellow honorees from around the country, he traveled to Washington to participate in roundtable discussions with government officials and members of the seafood industry on sustainable seafood management and strengthening the nation's fisheries.

What did Miss Ruby bring in on this trip?

Here's what we got on this trip: 5,000 pounds of grouper, 400 pounds of red snapper, 300 pounds of gag grouper and 400 pounds of scamp grouper.

The Champions of Change panels were billed as discussions promoting stronger U.S. fisheries. In light of pollution caused by recent storms that we've seen here in our local waters are the fish in the Gulf of Mexico safe to eat?

Absolutely. Our waters are in good shape. Plus, for us, our fishing is done so far offshore. It's literally the distance between (Pinellas County) to Disney World.

What exactly is sustainable fishing?

We are pulling out a volume of fish and leaving in enough so the fish can replenish every year. It is a stock that is not overfished. ... We can do this because of our tagging, which came about when we, a group of fishermen, believed customers would be interested in proof that what they were getting was in truth a domestic fish. So we tag each fish we catch with a number, and when the customer buys the fish, they can go into the computer, see where the fish was caught, even the name of the captain. Then on the other side, when it comes to the fishery, keeping track with tags has also helped keep track of what type of fish are (in what location).

With the term sustainability, there's an impression that you're an environmentalist, but with your zeal for spear fishing, I think of hunting, and that is seen by many as far away from environmentalism. So are you an environmentalist?

There are many people who say I am, but the negative response you'll get are from individual recreational fishermen who say I am a paid environmentalist. What happens is my stance on the fishery winds up with us and the environmental community on the same side, so some people assume we are getting paid for it.

When you were a child, did you want to be Jacques Cousteau or Ernest Hemingway?

I'd say Jacques Cousteau. It's that question, did I ponder or did I do. I did all day long. I still love to, especially spear fishing. It gets in your blood. ... When you go out there (the Middle Grounds), you're diving ridges, 20, 30, 40 feet high. It's an incredible geographic structure. You can't see it anywhere else. Spear fishing just gets in your blood.

Contact Piper Castillo at Follow @Florida_PBJC.

White House recognizes fisherman and John's Pass business owner: Five questions with Jason DeLaCruz 11/11/16 [Last modified: Friday, November 11, 2016 9:43am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. For starters: Rays at Pirates, with Blake Snell on the mound


    LHP Blake Snell returns to the majors for the Rays tonight after a six-week stint at Triple-A Durham, confident changes to his mechanics will lead to more strike-throwing and an increase in confidence will make him more successful.

  2. YouTube's Minecraft sensation Dan TDM brings live show to Clearwater


    Dan Middleton's YouTube channel has had more than 10 billion views since 2012.

    Dan Middleton's Dan TDM live tour is set to stop in Clearwater on Sunday. [Photo by Emily Herogian]
  3. Lightning's Mathieu Joseph on the rise at development camp


    BRANDON — The last 12 months have been quite the ride for Mathieu Joseph.

    Mathieu Joseph checks Carolina's Jake Bean during a preseason game in September in Tampa.
  4. Pinellas legislators talk governor's race, policy at delegation breakfast


    If anybody was expecting state Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, to quit being coy and and announce his bid for the 2018 governor's race to the friendly crowd at Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce's annual legislative delegation breakfast Wednesday, they left disappointed.

  5. DOT shows alternatives to former Tampa Bay Express toll lanes


    TAMPA — State transportation officials are evaluating at least a half-dozen alternatives to the controversial Tampa Bay interstate plan that they will workshop with the community for the next 18 months.

    Florida Department of Transportation consultant Brad Flom explains potential alternatives to adding toll lanes to Interstate 275 during a meeting Wednesday at DOT's Tampa office. Flom presented seven diagrams, all of which swapped toll lanes for transit, such as light rail or express bus, in the I-275 corridor from downtown Tampa to Bearss Ave. [CAITLIN JOHNSTON | Times]