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 [email protected] 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. Review: Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald team up to cool down the Clearwater Jazz Holiday


    A cool breeze swept through Coachman Park Saturday night. Couple of them, actually.

    Kenny Loggins performed at the Clearwater Jazz Holiday on Oct. 21, 2017.
  2. No. 16 USF hangs on at Tulane, off to first 7-0 start


    NEW ORLEANS — After half a season of mismatches, USF found itself in a grudge match Saturday night.

    USF quarterback Quinton Flowers (9) runs for a touchdown against Tulane during the first half of an NCAA college football game in New Orleans, La., Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Derick E. Hingle) LADH103
  3. Lightning buries Penguins (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Ryan Callahan spent a lot of time last season rehabilitating his injured hip alongside Steven Stamkos, who was rehabbing a knee after season-ending surgery. During those hours, Callahan noticed two things about Stamkos: his hunger and his excitement to return this season.

    Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Slater Koekkoek (29) advances the puck through the neutral zone during the first period of Saturday???‚??„?s (10/21/17) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Pittsburgh Penguins at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  4. Spain planning to strip Catalonia of its autonomy


    BARCELONA, Spain — The escalating confrontation over Catalonia's independence drive took its most serious turn Saturday as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain announced he would remove the leadership of the restive region and initiate a process of direct rule by the central government in Madrid.

    Demonstrators in Barcelona protest the decision to take control of Catalonia to derail the independence movement.
  5. Funeral held for soldier at center of political war of words (w/video)


    COOPER CITY — Mourners remembered not only a U.S. soldier whose combat death in Africa led to a political fight between President Donald Trump and a Florida congresswoman but his three comrades who died with him.

    The casket of Sgt. La David T. Johnson of Miami Gardens, who was killed in an ambush in Niger. is wheeled out after a viewing at the Christ The Rock Church, Friday, Oct. 20, 2017  in Cooper City, Fla. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald via AP) FLMIH102