Agency News

FWC Biologist and Officer Win Awards from Florida Guides Association 

FWC biologist John Hunt has received the Capt. Phil Chapman Award, presented to him by the FGA for those who display a passionate commitment to the conservation of Florida’s marine fisheries. Congratulations, John!

John has been at the forefront of marine fisheries research efforts in the Florida Keys for nearly 30 years, and has been instrumental in numerous conservation and scientific efforts aimed at ensuring these fragile ecosystems endure for generations to come.

“To best conserve the Keys and other unique Florida ecosystems, we need sound science and a collective problem-solving approach that relies upon strong partnerships among government, industry, stakeholders and environmental groups,” said Gil McRae, director of FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute. “John embodies that philosophy and has directly contributed to keeping the Keys a pristine ecological environment and recreational destination.”

John Hunt seen here with his Captain Phil Chapman Conservation Award.

John is a world-renowned lobster biologist. His contributions to conservation include research and monitoring work for the multimillion-dollar Caribbean spiny lobster fishery in Florida, additions to the body of science on reef fish ecology and conservation – particularly regarding the effectiveness of marine protected areas – and leadership for the establishment of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, the Tortugas Ecological Reserve and the recently established Tortugas Research Natural Area.

“Perhaps most importantly, John is a tireless advocate for his staff within the agency,” McRae said. “He has repeatedly shown admirable dedication and commitment to his staff, serving as a model for all of us with his leadership, compassion, and courage.”

The FGA also awarded FWC officer Michael Bibeau of Hillsborough County with the “Trained Eyes Coast Watchers” Officer of the Year Award.

Bibeau patrols his home county of Pinellas where he maintains strong working relationships with local partner agencies in enforcing conservation rules and regulations, promoting education and conservation stewardship among those enjoying Florida’s natural resources.

Officer Bibeau posing with his Trained-Eyes Coast Watcher Officer of the Year Award.

“We’re honored that Officer Bibeau, who is also our current FWC Officer of the Year, was chosen for this award,” said FWC Colonel Curtis Brown. “He is a fine example of our dedicated law enforcement officers who are out there every day protecting the public and conserving Florida’s natural resources.”

“This is such an honor for me to receive this award from the Florida Guides Association,” Bibeau said. “The hard work of my brothers and sisters in conservation law enforcement inspires me to do my job every day to the best of my ability.”

Officer Bibeau’s actions set an example whose reach is felt statewide through his leadership as a Field Training Officer and on FWC’s Special Operations Group and Advanced Conservation Training Academy as well as participating in the Great American Teach-In program. Congratulations, Michael!