CORTEZ -- Manatee County's historic fishing village is a contender to be voted the "Ultimate Fishing Town."
Cortez was nominated for World Fishing Networks' Ultimate Fishing Town contest, putting the community in contention for a regional prize of $3,500 or grand prize of $25,000.
"I just think Cortez is coming into its own," Karen Bell said. "People are learning to appreciate commercial fishing."
Bell, a manager at the family-run A.P. BellFishing Co., attributesthe increased attention Cortez and similar fishing communities have gained to television shows such as Discovery Channel's "Deadliest Catch" and National Geographic's "Wicked Tuna."
The historic Cortez Fishing Village dates to the 1880s and claims to be the oldest surviving fishing village in Florida. Relatives of the original village members continue to live there.
A.P. Bell is one of the largest fishing companies still in existence with multiple generations of the family still involved in the business. "I'm third generation," Bell said. "But we are hoping to have a fourth and fifth generation here."
Bell helps manage the company alongside her uncle, owner Doug Bell.
Local fishermen were excited about the nomination.
"I think it would be good for the community," Alex Shely said. "I do mullet fishing with the first-, second- and third-generation fisherman here."
Shely, originally from Minnesota, now does commercial and charter fishing locally.
To support Cortez, go to ultimatefishingtown.com/cortez-fl and vote up to four times a day.
Jessica De Leon, Herald Reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter@JDeLeon1012.