DeSantis, Bass Pro Shops founder announce Bahamas relief from fishing community

Gov. Ron DeSantis made a stop in South Florida on Thursday morning, announcing his support of a new Bahamas relief coalition to a crowd of fishing enthusiasts and corporate donors.

The coalition, Anglers for the Bahamas, was unveiled at a press conference at the Bass Pro Shops store in Dania Beach.

“As Hurricane Dorian came through the Atlantic, Caribbean and set sight on Florida, a number of companies throughout the state reached out proactively to our office to say ‘we are here for you,’ ” DeSantis said, speaking at a podium in front of a waterfall fish tank, adorned with taxidermy cougars and snakes. “I know the storm did not end up impacting us the way we feared, but Johnny Morris’ Bass Pro Shops would have been first in line to help.”

The coalition is fronted by faith-based relief organization Convoy of Hope and Bass Pro Shops and backed by an array of corporate sponsors like Tyson Foods, Mastercard, Sunglass Hut and Pure Jerky Company. Representatives of the various corporations filled rows of seats at Thursday’s event.

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Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris thanked DeSantis for his support and his conservation efforts. He talked about his personal connection to the Bahamas, where he has traveled to fish for giant tuna for the last 40 years.

“Our mission is simple and that’s to help the wonderful people of the Bahamas,” he said.

While the state will not be playing a role in Anglers for the Bahamas, Morris told the Miami Herald that DeSantis was invited to attract good press for the coalition.

“We reached out to the governor to join us to get you and others to come to spread the word of fishermen and other anglers investing to do good with a great organization,” Morris said. “That’s why he came.”

After the event, DeSantis said the federal government is leading the effort on dealing with displaced Bahamians coming to the U.S. He said Florida has done its part in sending supplies to the affected islands.

“If you’re in a situation where you have a plan when you get here and you’re following the laws, you’re going to be OK,” he said. “If you just need relief, that’s not what Florida is set up for.”