Plastic Free Fishing Tournament and Cleanup Supported Goal to Remove and Divert 54 Tons of Ocean Plastic and Waste from Florida Waters for Super Bowl LIV

KEY WEST, Fla., November 4, 2019– As part of Ocean Conservancy’s goal with the Miami Super Bowl Host Committee’s Ocean to Everglades initiative to remove and divert 54 tons of waste from Florida’s coasts and waterways, Ocean Conservancy and the Lower Keys Guides Association (LKGA) organized a combined fishing and cleanup tournament from Nov. 1-4 in the Lower Keys.

The weekend began with the “Sugarloaf Showdown,” an annual fishing tournament led by the LKGA, and was followed by a boat-based cleanup to remove trash from the ocean and remote islands. The LKGA eliminated single use plastics at the competition for the first time, and disabled veterans group Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF) also participated in both tournaments as a tribute to their service in honor of the upcoming Veterans Day.

“Florida is the sportfishing capital of the world and the Keys are a perfect illustration of why that is the case,” said Jeff Barger, Associate Director, Constituent Outreach, Ocean Conservancy. “Our fishing partners, residents of the Keys and the state, depend on healthy fisheries.

The Sugarloaf Showdown is a fantastic opportunity to enjoy these treasures while highlighting some of the challenges the ocean faces as we continue towards our goals for Super Bowl LIV.”

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Chairman, Robert Spottswood participated in the weekend’s events along with five teams of disabled veteran Ambassadors from PHWFF. The teams were divided by branch of service; two United States Marine Corps, two United States Army and one United States Air Force team.

“Our disabled veteran ambassadors come from all branches and all over the country, and all of us share a love for the ocean” said David Folkerts, National Programs Officer, Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing. “The chance to do something on this scale and spend a weekend on the water fly fishing and cleaning up 4,000 lbs. of trash is something we all appreciate.”

The Sugarloaf Showdown made the commitment this year to reduce the amount of plastic used in the tournament in support of Ocean Conservancy’s Super Bowl goal. Instead of plastic water bottles, cutlery and dishware for the reception, the LKGA worked with Ocean Conservancy to swap refillable bottles for the day and standard dishware for the post-event reception and dinner.

“The success that I have enjoyed as a professional fishing guide has been largely dependent upon the fact that the Florida Keys flats fishery is one of the best in the world” said Will Benson, Captain, Lower Keys Guides Association. “The opportunity we had this year to combine our fishing tournament and add a cleanup tournament to it was incredible, necessary and something we want to continue.”

About Ocean Conservancy

Ocean Conservancy is working with you to protect the ocean from today’s greatest global challenges. Together, we create science-based solutions for a healthy ocean and the wildlife and communities that depend on it.

For more information, visit, or follow us on;

About Lower Keys Guides Association

The Lower Keys Guides Association is a non-profit organization of professional fishing guides dedicated to working for a sustainable resource through wise management practices, while recognizing the importance of sport fishing to the economy and cultural heritage of the Florida Keys.

About Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing

Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF) is dedicated to physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and disabled veterans through fly fishing and associated activities including education and outings.

PHWFF began in 2005 serving wounded military service members at Walter Reed Army Medical Center returning from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since then, PHWFF has expanded nationwide, establishing over 200 highly successful programs in Department of Defense hospitals, Warrior Transition Units, and Veterans Affairs Medical Centers and clinics.

For more information visit or follow us on Facebook, Twitter  or Instagram.

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