Florida Institute of Saltwater Heritage Inc
4515 124th St W
CORTEZ FL 34215-0606

Dedicated to the promotion, education and preservation of Cortez and Florida’s commercial fishing and other traditional maritime cultures including the environment upon which these communities depend.

CEO/Executive Director None None
Board Chair Kim McVey
Board Chair Affiliation Cortez Bait and Seafood
General Info
Organization DBA
FISH Preserve
Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival
FISH BoatWorks
Tax Exempt Status Public Supported Charity
Incorporation Year 1991
State Charitable Solicitations Permit Yes Aug 2018
State Registration Yes Apr 2018
Financial Summary
Note: Revenue includes the value of in-kind contributions/donations
IRS Letter of Determination
Impact Statement
Protect and Preserve Coastal Habitat: Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage (FISH) purchased the 93 acres of the FISH Preserve in 2001 and have added another 5 acres over the last 15 years. The FISH Preserve is made up of coastal habitat that includes mangroves, bay bottom and uplands. It provides for protected species include: 33 native plants, 35 non-bird animals, 39 native and seasonal birds, 27 fishes, and 18 other marine associated animals.

With the approval of two new major residential and commercial developments in 2016 -2017 the FISH Preserve is the last undeveloped parcels on northern shore of Sarasota Bay making this Preserve even more important to the survival of the ecosystem and species it protects. 

Preservation and education of traditional maritime cultures : The FISH Boatworks was developed to meet the objectives established in the FISH By-Laws. “To encourage and develop maritime youth programs, coupled with the continuation of a traditional wooden boat building program". To this end FISH purchased the Wilkerson property, and restored the building to house our Boatworks program.

Preserve Local and State maritime cultures: Cortez is on both the National and State Historic District Registries.  It is one of the only remaining working waterfronts and commercial fishing communities in Florida.  In continuance of preserving the culture and history which is unique to Cortez, FISH has funded the purchase of the Cortez Volunteer Fire Station and the Church of God now known as Fishermens' Hall.

FISH and the citizens of Cortez have had a significant impact on maintaining a viable commercial fishing industry in Manatee County and the State, and it has sought to maintain the traditions and culture that make it a unique piece of Old Florida.

Needs Statement
  1. Funds to complete final phase of Preserve Restoration. This project will create 1.58 acres of open water tidal habitat, 0.65 acres of high estuarine marsh, and 0.96 acres of low estuarine marsh. It will also remove 3.2 acres of mature exotic trees (primarily Australian pines), and include the selective removal of exotics, and replanting with native coastal maritime hammock within an additional 3.4 acres of the site. Total project area is 25.2 acres. Projected funds needed $300,000.00

  2. Once Preserve Restoration is completed funding will be needed to construct pathways through out the Preserve for public access, with educational signage, as well as bridges to connect preserve upland over two new water features. Projected funds needed $150,000.00

  3. Construction of viewing tower on FISH Preserve Project cost $75,000 dollars.

  4. Construction of a pole style barn with removable sides to house FISH fleet of historic vessels. Projected Funds needed $125,000 dollars.

  5. Roof repairs on Fishermens' Hall Projected Funds needed $15,000 dollars.

Background Statement
Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage (FISH) became a prime mover in Cortez preservation after it was organized in May 1991.  We obtained our non-profit status in September that same year.  For more than three decades the FISH sponsored Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival has generated revenues that have enabled FISH to acquire conservation lands, restore coastal habitat, preserve history and contribute to cultural awareness and education of the public.

Cortez was added to the Historic Registry of National Districts in 1995 and has over 90 historic homes labeled on a walking map of the village.  It is one of the few remaining working waterfronts and commercial fishing communities in Florida.  Fish played a significant role in working toward this designation.

In the last thirty years the residents of Cortez have seen great change and been met with many challenges. Challenges such as the 1995 'Net Ban', the threat of a large marina that would have blocked the channel, threat from a high rise bridge and waterfront developers. In each instance the community did what was necessary in order to protect this unique place. Working with FISH and the community, in 2000 Cortez was designated a Florida Waterfronts Community. Unlike many of the other Florida Waterfront Communities the goal for Cortez was one of preservation, when most other communities were out seeking ways to develop economically, usually through tourism, Cortez sought to maintain it's strong cultural heritage.

The challenge for FISH and the Village today is the promotion of local harvesting of fresh Florida Seafood instead of the importing of seafood from other areas. FISH wants to educate the public on the importance of maintaining the century old tradition of commercial fishing in the Village of Cortez and it's value to not just Manatee County but the State.

History is important, we must know where we came from to know where we are headed.  For Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage (FISH) and the Village of Cortez our future will be directed by our past as we continue to work toward our mission: "  Dedicated to the promotion, education and preservation of Cortez and Florida’s commercial fishing and other traditional maritime cultures including the environment upon which these communities depend.”

Areas Served
Areas Served
FL- Manatee
FL- Sarasota
Areas Served Comments The FISH Preserve is presently open to the public on a limited basis so it serves both residents of Manatee and Sarasota Counties as well as those who visit our area. The Village of Cortez is the second most visited area of Manatee County according to the Manatee County's Tourist Development Council.  We hope that as the Restoration of the Preserve is completed that it will become an integral part of the whole Cortez experience.
Service Categories
Primary Org Type Environment
Secondary Org Type Arts,Culture & Humanities
Tertiary Org Type Environment
Statement from the Board Chair/Board President

 Hello, first I want to thank you for your interest in our Organization and our mission, we are "dedicated to the promotion, education and preservation of Cortez and Florida’s commercial fishing and other traditional maritime cultures including the environment upon which these communities depend.” My family has been in Cortez for over 75 years, so this Village is truly where my heart is. Florida Institute for Saltwater (FISH) was established to promote and protect this unique and special place.

I have been a member of FISH for over 20 years and I want you to know that as an contributor to FISH, you can be proud of being a part of an organization who sees the value in protecting our environment and the maritime heritage of Manatee County and Florida.

FISH has worked very hard to bring about awareness to the challenges our industry and the Sarasota Bay shoreline faces, mainly from development, and the impact these challenges have on the economy of one of the oldest and last commercial fishing communities in Florida.

FISH, in order to protect the very environment on which our economics depend, purchased 98 acres on Sarasota Bay, now known as the FISH Preserve. This land was purchased through support from the public and is a true testament to the will of the community to preserve and protect local coastal habitats. Not only did we manage to purchase this 98 acres of coastal habitat, but in a partnership with Manatee County we have provided additional protection for the property by placing a County owned Conservation Easement over the acreage. Our job now is to complete the restoration plan begun a number of years ago.

With your help we can continue to move forward in completing the task begun out of love for community, our industry and the environment. So we hope you will join us in our mission. Our Organization is entirely volunteer. 100% of your donation goes to the expenses of maintaining the organization and restoration of the properties owned by FISH which are solely owned to protect the history and environment on which Cortez was founded.


One of the objectives of our organization is to educate the public about the histories of boat building along the Florida coast and to encourage and develop a traditional wooden boat building program. To that end FISH established the Boatworks located at 11655 Cortez RD W.

The FISH Boatworks offers the opportunity for volunteer participants to take a hands on role in the restoration or construction of one boat per year. There is no fee merely joining FISH and volunteering at the Boatworks. This offers our participants the opportunity to learn the skills associated with traditional wooden boat building, an art which is slowly being lost not just in Florida but throughout our country. Fiberglass has replaced wood as the material of choice in boat construction so this is an art FISH works to preserve through our Traditional Wooden Boat Building Program. The program's goal is to restore or construct one boat each year, that boat is raffled off at the Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival.

Budget $3,500
Category Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other
Program Linked to Organizational Strategy Yes
Population Served General/Unspecified
Short Term Success

The short term success of this program is in the opening of the door for those who participate in the program to gain the beginning skills needed for building a wooden boat. The completion of the project within the one year time frame is our measure of success.

Long Term Success

We assess the long term success as a function of the number of returning participants each year. Each new year brings a new project, something different either in restoration or new design. By returning our participants continue to increase and hone their skills year after year. While growing the skill-set of returning participants we are always seeking to add new people, this usually comes through media outreach as well as word of mouth from those already taking part.

Program Success Monitoring

We monitor our success by the return rate and comments gathered form participants at the end of each project year and by the increase in new participants each year.

Program Success Examples

Over the years the Boatworks has completed numerous projects. One very note worthy one was the restoration of the Esperanza, a derelict Cuban boat that refugees had actually used to sail to the Florida Keys and freedom. The Boatworks program also built the Longboat replica used at the Desoto National Memorial Park. As previously stated each year the Boatworks' Traditional Boat Building Program builds a boat, last year's project was a beautiful 16' foot rowing dory restored by volunteers under the supervision of Board member Rick Stewart a master wooden boat builder.

Program Comments by Organization

The Fish mission is one of education, preservation and protection of a maritime culture fast disappearing from Florida. As we strive to protect the industry on which this 125+ years old fishing village was founded we realize that there is a boat building culture that must be protected as well. An art form which is quickly disappearing in an ever more modern world. Cortez's commercial fishing industry has changed over the years but the value of the skills and methods used by the community founders, those who grew up in this maritime culture should be protected and passed on to future generations. These were skills they depended on not just to survive but to thrive. Therefore as an organization we recognize and have committed ourselves to educate, nurture and preserve the traditional wooden boat building skills of our past.

CEO/Executive Director
CEO/Executive Director None None
CEO Term Start 0
CEO/Executive Director Email None
Former CEOs/Executive Directors
Senior Staff
Staff & Volunteer Statistics
Full Time Staff 0
Part Time Staff 0
Staff Retention Rate % N/A
Professional Development No
Contractors 0
Volunteers 15
Management Reports to Board N/A
CEO/Executive Director Formal Evaluation N/A
Senior Management Formal Evaluation N/A
Non-Management Formal Evaluation N/A
Over the years FISH has collaborated with a number of recognized organizations.  Presently Fish has a partnership with Sarasota Bay Estuary Program working to complete the habitat restoration of the FISH Preserve. We both recognize the environmental and economic value of maintaining this coastal habitat that includes mangroves, bay bottom and uplands.   Our partnership with Manatee County Government on the FISH Preserve by excepting and placing a conservation easement over the acreage provides added protection for this land into the future.
 FISH is a partner with the Cortez Village Historical Society working to protect, preserve and educate the community on the history and maritime culture of this 125+ year old fishing village and the commercial fishing industry on which it relies. Our partnership as members of the Manatee Chapter of Fishing for Freedom provides a connection directly to our commercial fishermen and the challenges they face from Federal and State legislation. 
FISH also collaborates with Suncoast Waterkeeper. They help assure clean healthy bay water and protect coastal environments throughout our region, again the environment on which the fishing industry depends. Collaboration has and will continue to be important to FISH.
Fresh From Florida2010
External Assessments and Accreditations
Risk Management Provisions
Commercial General Liability
General Property Coverage
Special Event Liability
Accident and Injury Coverage
Government Licenses
Organization Licensed by the Government No
Fundraising Plan No
Communication Plan No
Strategic Plan No
Strategic Plan Years
Strategic Plan Adopted 0
Management Succession Plan No
Continuity of Operations Plan No
Nondiscrimination Policy No
Whistle Blower Policy No
Document Destruction Policy No
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy Yes
Policies and Procedures No
Board Chair
Board Chair Kim McVey
Company Affiliation Cortez Bait and Seafood
Board Term May 2016 to Apr 2018
Board Chair Email kimcortezbait@verizon.net
Board Members
Board Members
Karen Bell Bell Seafood & Star Fish Co. Market and Restaurant
Kaye Bell Retired
Doug Calhoun Retired
Mark Coarsey Manatee Chapter Fishing For Freedom
Angela Collins IFAS Sea Grants
Herman Kruegle Retired
Rose Lipke Community Volunteer
Kim McVey Cortez Bait and Seafood
Bill Miller Retired
Linda Molto Retired
Michael Northfield Retired
Pat Potts A.P. Bell Seafood
John Stevely Retired
Rick Stewart Duette Carriage Company
Plum Taylor Retired
Jane von Hahmann Retired
Constituency Includes Client Representation No
Board Ethnicity
African American/Black 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 16
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0 0
Board Gender
Male 7
Female 9
Unspecified 0
Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 99
Board Orientation No
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 10
Board Meeting Attendance % 84
Board Self-Evaluation No
Written Board Selection Criteria No
Board Conflict of Interest Policy Yes
% of Board Making Monetary Contributions 100
% of Board Making In-Kind Contributions 100
Governance Comments by Organization FISH is a very longstanding Organization.  We have seen challenges in Board attendance however over the last 3 years we have had above average attendance and active participation by the majority of our Board.  We recently made some BY-Law changes to address our Board makeup which we believe will serve the organization better.
Current Year Projections
Tax Year Start Month Jan
Tax Year Start Day 01
Tax Year Begins 2018
Tax Year End Month Dec
Tax Year End Day 31
Tax Year Ends 2018
Projected Revenue $340,000.00
Projected Expenses $300,000.00
Total Projected Revenue includes "in-kind" contributions/ donations No
Organization has Endowment No
Endowment Spending Policy N/A
Capital Campaign
Currently In a Capital Campaign No
Anticipate Campaign within 5 years? No
Campaign Purpose
Campaign Goal
Amount Raised To Date 0 as of 0
Financial Review
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201620152014
Program Expense$78,856$249,947$119,652
Administration Expense$10,487$15,844$15,000
Fundraising Expense$0$0$0
Payments to Affiliates$0$0$0
Total Revenue/Total Expenses1.360.460.98
Program Expense/Total Expenses88%94%89%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue0%0%0%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201620152014
Total Assets$1,182,270$1,076,073$1,237,200
Current Assets$93,924$168,445$332,304
Long-Term Liabilities$332,117$258,417$275,000
Current Liabilities$0$0$0
Total Net Assets$850,153$817,656$962,200
Top Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201620152014
Top Funding Source & Dollar AmountFundraising $88,526Fundraising $88,541Fundraising $90,200
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountNet Rental Income $28,160Net rental income $21,700Net rental income $24,124
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountMembership Dues $2,855Contributions, gifts, grants $7,445Contributions, gifts, grants $6,249
CEO/Executive Director Compensation
Tax Credits No
Short Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities------
Long Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets28%24%22%
Financials Comments
Financial Comments by Organization
FISH is a volunteer organization.This allows all funds raised to go toward our mission whether it be the continued restoration of our 98 acre Preserve or the restoration of Fishermens' Hall, or the community volunteer Firehouse. Both the Fishermens' Hall and the community volunteer Firehouse are significant and important cultural landmarks in the Village.
FISH presently is dependent on a single fundraiser each year, the "Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival". The Festival plus our membership fee which is extremely low, $10 for an Individual $20 for a family, are the source of our operational income. Our membership stays around 200 +/- a few members year after year. 2017 will be the 35th Annual Festival held in the Village.  We have been blessed over the years to see growth in attendance and earnings which have allowed FISH to not only cover all operational expenses but to fund a large portion of the purchase price on the last two lots in the FISH Preserve, the hole in the doughnut if you will.  The Board of Directors is ever cognizant of the fact that one bad year of weather could have a significant impact on our funding.  Therefore we do carry a one year operating reserve. 
FISH has also been able to obtain grants to fund much of the Preserve Restoration to date and we will continue to seek grants and to partner with other organizations such as Sarasota Bay Estuary Program and Manatee County to complete the restoration.  However we recognize the need to build additional revenue opportunities.
Joining 'The Giving Partner' provides us an online presence for donations we presently lack. We will be able to reach out to those interested in the goals and objectives of our mission:"Dedicated to the promotion, education, and preservation of Cortez and Florida's commercial fishing and other traditional maritime cultures including the environment upon which these communities depend." The Board is also looking to develop at least one additional annual fundraiser.   
Financial Comments by Foundation Financial information taken from the organization's Federal 990.
Nonprofit Florida Institute of Saltwater Heritage Inc
Address 4515 124th St W
CORTEZ, FL 34215 0606
Phone 941 254-4972