Skip Navigation LinksAbout-us

Our Mission


  • Organize Florida Keys fishermen into an effective lobby to protect and promote the fishing industry.
  • Encourage laws that protect the fishing industry of South Florida while maintaining and improving resource sustainability of the species we harvest.
  • Advance the science of fishing through cooperative research.
  • Partner with other community associations working toward sustaining and preserving the commercial fishing community and our cultural heritage.
  • Work with county, state and federal agencies to minimize the negative impact of regulations on fishermen while improving the conservation of marine resources.


The Board of Directors of the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen's Association (FKCFA) and our members are confident about the future of Monroe County's marine resources and our industry continues to participate in cooperative research efforts to maintain and improve them. From a management perspective, we can assure the public that the county has a growing and sustainable seafood industry.

The Florida Keys are surrounded by a seafood gold mine, and over the last two decades, the county has maintained its spot as one of the top most valuable ports in the nation. With more than 350 federally permitted fishing boats, the Florida Keys are home to the largest commercial fleet from Texas to North Carolina. Over 80 percent of the spiny lobster harvested in the state of Florida are caught in Monroe County, making commercial fishing the county's second largest economic engine and employer next to tourism.

The commercial fleet supports over1,600 families, which is close to 5 percent of the county's population. Stock Island alone lands 7 million pounds with a dockside value of $24 million — that's 5 percent of Florida's total landings and 13 percent of total value.

In 2006, Monroe County was ranked the fifth most valuable port in the nation, with a dockside value of about $54.4 million. In only 8 years that ex-vessel value has increased to more than $100 million.  This figure does not include retail sales and profits made by wholesalers who marketed seafood products worldwide. MOst economists agree to a turn-over rate within the county of 'x6' putting the value of those harvests at more than $600 million. It's reasonable to predict that seafood and related industries earned upwards of $70 million. This does not take into account the millions of dollars of shrimp caught off Key West and landed at other ports around the Gulf of Mexico. The face of the shrimping industry has changed, with many ice boats being upgraded to freezer boats, some capable of fishing up to three months, that return to their respective Gulf ports.

Seafood is a renewable natural resource and cooperative efforts between fisheries managers and stakeholders have kept all key indicator species in the Florida Keys at sustainable levels. Every year, our fleet harvests responsible amounts of seafood, which allows for stocks to rebuild themselves. None of our commercially important species are overfished, including shrimp, lobster, stone crab, kingfish, Spanish mackerel, red grouper, and mangrove, yellowtail and mutton snappers. In addition, 80 percent of our commercial fisheries have been recognized as "environmentally responsible" by the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Marketing Program. FKCFA is also championing an effort to define "sustainable fishing practices" that will conserve habitat and stocks for future generations.

These facts confirm that Monroe County's commercial fishing community is a significant part of our economy. Aside from the money that it generates, our commercial fleet is one of the last standing symbols of this county's heritage.

FKCFA can assure consumers worldwide that seafood products harvested in the Florida Keys are among the safest in the world, sustainable and harvested using environmentally safe practices.


What's the difference?

Monroe County Commercial Fishermen, Inc. (MCCF)

Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen's Association (FKCFA)

MCCF dba FKCFA are one and the same.  We 'do business as' Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen's Association because we are involved in both state and federal fisheries management.  We adopted the new name to enhance recognition of the organization.  Many folks are not familiar with Monroe County but most everyone knows about the Florida Keys.  Our challenges are great; including preservation of our working waterfronts, habitat and ecosystem management and protection and working effectively with state and federal fisheries managers for reasonable rules and regulations governing our industry.




Only if we all pull together can we continue to keep you, the Florida Keys commercial fishermen in business!



A Few of Our Accomplishments in 2015...


  • Trip limits increased to 45,000
  • Transit authority to any Florida port

Biscayne National Park

  • House Natural Resources Field Hearing - August 4, 2015
  • Ros-Lehtinen introduces HR 3310 to prevent large scale closures in Parks/Sanctuaries without State approval
  • House Appropriations Committee Hearing on BNP set for 2016

 Yellowtail Snapper

  • 2015 increase in allocation by 433,000 pounds
  • Change of fishing year - August 1- July 31

Law Enforcement

  • Increased penalties for trap robbing, wrung tails, out of season possession
  • Increased penalties for traps no tags pending House vote this month

Spiny Lobster/Stone Crab

  • Transfer of C & X numbers approved by State of Florida
  • Stone Crab AP development of training videos to be completed in 2016
  • ACL Exemption for Spiny Lobster incorporated into MSA reauthorization, pending congressional approval

Golden Crab

  • Expansion of fishable territory in the South Atlantic now pending SAFMC approval


  • Developed grant for trap testing program approved by SAFMC and GMFMC, now awaiting final approval by NOAA/NMFS/SERO


  • In 2011 our association was instrumental in the development of 60 new sites throughout the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary dedicated to the protection and preservation of Acropora (Elkhorn & Staghorn) and five other types of corals indigenous to the Florida Keys and listed by the federal government as threatened or endangered. (Go to Lobster Info on the side bar)
  • Our members routinely donate fresh Florida seafood for major fundraisers benefiting Habitat for Humanity of the Upper Keys and The Good Health Clinic enabling them to raise tens of thousands of dollars for their respective organizations.
  • We represented the majority in the industry opposing implementation of a controversial federal fisheries management plan called Catch Shares, thus preserving jobs in Monroe County and the Southeastern United States.
  • We assist The Marathon Turtle Hospital recovering turtles injured due to boat strikes, red tides, entanglements and predator attacks. throughout the year.  LIkewise, we assist in releasing rehabilitated turtles back into the wild.
  • In cooperative testing with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission we have developed new and innovative designs on lobster traps that reduce trap movement by tides and storms up to 80% providing additional protection to corals and fragile sea grass beds.
  • Working with Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) of Key Largo, we have assisted in data collection, geographical distribution studies and population dynamics on lionfish, one of the most troublesome of all invasive species ever to enter our fragile ecosystem.
  • Trap cleanup efforts carried out by FKCFA members in 2011 have removed significant amounts of marine and household debris from fragile mangrove shorelines and Essential Fish Habitat (EFH),
  • FKCFA has awarded over $53,000 (since 2006) in college scholarships to graduating seniors from Coral Shores, Marathon and Key West High Schools to individuals persuing further education in marine related studies and marine law-enforcement.
  • We work closely with college students on research programs for basic and advanced degrees in marine studies. The topics include ecosystem based management, marine debris removal programs, coral protection, seagrass protection, and of course studies on finfish, spiny lobster and stone crab. We average 10-12 students per year seeking industry assistance.
  • Our association provides significant industry representation in fisheries management with an executive director that attends all Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic Fishery Management Council Meetings, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary meetings and numerous other regulatory hearings.
    • Members of our association serve on a number of federal advisory panels including spiny lobster, stone crab, king and Spanish mackerel, coral and habitat/ecosystems and the FKNMS Sanctuary Advisory Council.
    • We initiate and/or participate in numerous scientific research projects in an effort to protect the marine environment and assure the sustainability of the resources we harvest.


  • Secured $450,000.00 in funding for FKCFA members in 2006 and $750,000,00 in 2010 as part of a FEMA-Monroe County trap cleanup measure addressing impacts from Hurricane Wilma in 2005.
  • We coordinated with OFF (Organized Fishermen of Florida) and the State of Florida to have all 2006 trap fees waived at a savings of $1,200,000. to the industry due to impacts from Hurricane Wilma.
  • In 2006 we secured a $500,000.00 grant from the Florida Hurricane Relief Fund aiding fishermen through awards of $1,040. and $2,080 respectively to rebuild their traps and fishng gear .
  • We promote and market Florida seafood products at Fantasy Fest in October of each year and conduct our very own Florida Keys Seafood Festival, held annually in Key West in January.
  • We convince fisheries managers to halt two scheduled 10% reductions in trap certificates in the 1990's. We convinced the State to replace the active reduction program  with a passive one to lessen industry impacts and later to temporarily stop all lobster trap reductions.
  • We convinced fisheries managers to exempt "within family transfers" from the passive reduction system on lobster certificates and also to provide for a waiver of surcharge fees for transfers within the family.
  •  We convinced the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council of the importance of retaining 'tailing permits' to help those who take multiple day lobster trips.
  • We worked closely with the Florida Fish and Wildlive Commission to develop a flexible, passive reduction program for the stone crab certificate holders to reduce negative, economic impacts.
  • We are working on establishing an apprenticeship program that qualifies deckhands to buy trap certificates at a reduced transfer fee.
  • Secured $4,800,000. in disaster aid to help fishermen recover from (1998's) hurricanes Georges and Mitch by working with the Governor's office, our Congressional delegation, as well as many local elected officials.
  • We convinced the South Atlantic Fishery Council to return 128 snapper/grouper permits to Keys commercial fishermen and to allow snapper/grouper permit transfers to larger vessels.
  • We drafted wording in the Dolphin/Wahoo Management Plan to increase the allocation to commercial fishermen and to have the size limit consistent across user groups.
  • FKCFA members have served on numerous GMFMC and SAFMC federal fisheries Advisory Panels for over 20 years.
  • We worked to preserve the hook and line fishery for king mackerel in the Keys during the implementation of Amendment 9 of the King Mackerel Fishery Management Plan.
  • We work closely with law enforcement to ensure the high-yield gillnet fishery for king mackerel is carried out in a safe and responsible manner .
  • We convinced NOAA Fisheries to not list local gear as having major impacts on marine mammals.



Members support these efforts by contributing their dues and making extra contributions of time and effort to particpate in fisheries management and cooperative research programs.  We must all pitch-in to ensure that our fisheries are sustainable for the financial benefit of the citizenry of Monroe County and to preserve our cultural heritage. Indeed the survival of all commercial fishing in the Florida Keys is at great risk from loss of our traditional working waterfronts, excessive fishing regulations and inappropriate and unwarranted interference from some environmental groups espousing a 'sky is falling mentality' for their own personal gain.

Have a voice in your future by joining FKCFA. 


You can qualify for group rate insurance for both your vessel and crew through

mu_color_300_Cleaned Up and Revised.JPG 

Marine Underwriters.    


​Check out our educational video


Commercial Fisheries in the Florida Keys:


Balancing the Conservation of Marine Resources and the Preservation of Fishing Communities


This 35 minute educational video focuses on how commercial fisheries have evolved in the Florida Keys under Federal and State fisheries management laws. The video highlights how commercial fishermen and the general public are collaborating to conserve marine resources and preserve working waterfronts. In addition to administrative issues, this educational video also summarizes the long standing heritage of commercial fisheries in the Florida Keys.


It is important for the general public to realize the historical and economic significance of commercial fisheries to the state of Florida and the U.S. Over the last two decades, the Keys have consistently ranked within the top ten most valuable ports in the nation; earning 70-80 million dollars annually. With more than 360 federally permitted fishing boats, the Florida Keys has the largest commercial fleet from Texas to North Carolina.


For over 25 years, the FKCFA has worked with a variety of local and national partners to conserve marine resources. As stewards of the marine environment, our members understand their efforts towards sustainable development are continuing to preserve a future for commercial fishing in the Keys


Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4 (some of you may need to hold down the "Ctrl" button when you click on this link)


             ​karl l.jpg

Here is what CNN did with Past President Karl Lessard about fishing in the Florida Keys

Link to video piece

Link to the written story

Link to whole show

FKCFA actively promotes the organization and local fishermen by participating in a number of public events.

Keep checking in to find out what our next event will be.