To launch the campaign, CCC and staff from Florida’s Marine Turtle Protection Program (MTPP) organized a billboard unveiling ceremony and press conference on the steps of the Florida Capital. A full-size billboard was erected at the entrance to the Capital, and media from throughout the state covered the event.
Executive Director David Godfrey told the gathering that the CCC and other Florida sea turtle groups had worked to establish the plate in order to provide a permanent funding source for the state’s marine turtle program. By marketing the plate through TV and radio PSAs, posters and now billboards, the CCC is simply following through on its investment in the future of sea turtle conservation in Florida, Godfrey explained.
“Now it is up to the citizens of Florida to follow through by purchasing one of these beautiful new tags,” Godfrey challenged. “By doing so they can be directly involved in protecting some of the world’s most important sea turtle nesting populations and their nesting habitats.”
At a similar billboard unveiling event held in Melbourne, the National Save the Sea Turtle Foundation presented a boat to the Sea Turtle Survival League to aid in its sea turtle research and education activities.
CCC’s hope in originally sponsoring the Sea Turtle Specialty Plate was that the plate would eventually generate enough income to provide a permanent and stable funding source for Florida’s MTPP. (Note: revenues from the plate do not come to the STSL; they go directly to a government agency that carries out research and regulatory activities in the state.) Sales of the plate have been increasing steadily since it was introduced in March of 1998. During March and April of this year, more plates were sold than in any previous month. Revenues from the tag now completely fund the state’s program.
Another reason CCC is working to increase sales of the turtle tag is that once annual sales break the $500,000 mark, all revenues over that threshold will be distributed through a competitive grants program to nonprofit groups, coastal counties and educational institutions in Florida to support sea turtle conservation activities. Based on our projections, a minimum of $150,000 will be awarded through the grants program next year. By 2002, the grants program should be distributing nearly a quarter million dollars each year to Florida groups and counties.