Craig Pittman writes in the Tampa Bay Times about restoration efforts in Everglades National Park. “Eighty-five years ago, work crews built a dam across the Everglades and called it the Tamiami Trail. The two-lane highway, completed in 1928, blocked most of the flow of the River of Grass just as it began trickling into what would become Everglades National Park.
For Immediate Release
May 16th, 2013
Contact: Alex Lovett-Woodsum; email@example.com
BONEFISH & TARPON TRUST STUDY FINDS ANNUAL ECONOMIC IMPACT OF FLORIDA KEYS FLATS FISHERY TO BE OVER $427 MILLION
Commissioned by Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, Dr. Tony Fedler has conducted the first study exploring the impact of the Florida Keys Flats Fishery on the local economy in an effort to raise awareness and build the case for the importance of science-based management of Bonefish, Tarpon, and Permit, dubbed “Rock Stars” by former Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commissioner Rodney Barreto. The study concluded that the total annual economic impact of this fishery exceeds $427 million. Bonefish & Tarpon Trust hopes that these significant findings regarding the economic value of this fishery will raise awareness about the need to protect the Florida Keys Flats fishery and habitats.
Keys guides were excited to hear that such a study was being conducted. “It’s fantastic to finally have valid economic information that will influence management decisions,” said Captain John O’Hearn of Key West. Captain Will Benson, another Keys guide, agrees: “This study makes a clear point that the economics of the Florida Keys are tied to a healthy marine habitat, and that the Flats fishery is a major economic component of our community.”
Though the Florida Keys have historically received significant world-wide attention as the focus of Flats fishing, very little previous effort has gone to scientific study of the fishery, its anglers, and its economic impact. This study was the first to collect data on the economic impact of the Flats Fishery, and thus its importance to the economy of the Florida Keys. When combined with the other sectors of the saltwater recreational fishery in the Florida Keys, the total annual economic impact exceeds $741 million. This accounts for 16% of Florida’s statewide saltwater recreational fishing economic impact, which underscores the importance of the Florida Keys Flats Fishery.
“The economic data from this and similar studies reinforces the importance of these recreational fisheries to the overall economic health of the state and even the region,” said Dr. Aaron Adams, BTT’s Director of Operations. “Since we know that healthy habitats are required to support healthy recreational fisheries, these studies help to justify BTT’s work on habitat and fisheries conservation. And since we know that the Florida Keys fish populations are connected to populations throughout the region, this work has even wider implications.”
Tom Davidson, BTT’s Chairman, added, “We want to make sure that the fishery we leave our children and grandchildren is even better than what we have now, and for the fishing guides and their families to continue to make a living in this historical fishery. We hope that this study resonates widely and increases interest in conserving and enhancing the Florida Keys Flats Fishery.”
Bonefish & Tarpon Trust’s mission is to conserve and enhance global bonefish, tarpon and permit fisheries and their environments through stewardship, research, education and advocacy. View the entire Economic Assessment Document.
With changes to Everglades National Park management on the horizon, Bonefish & Tarpon Trust has been working collaboratively with Everglades National Park and the greater angling community (including the Florida Keys Fishing Guides Association and Sandy Moret) to serve as a median of information for proposed adjustments to the Everglades National Park General Management Plan.
BTT has met with Dan Kimball (ENP Superintendent), Fred Herling (ENP Planner), and Dave Fowler (ENP Ranger) to discuss the proposed management plan. ENP is acting on their mission, which in part is to protect submerged wilderness (seagrass). The angling community, in general, seems ready to adapt their practice to Pole/Troll zones for the sake of conservation and better fisheries management, but has expressed concerns about the number of access channels to large Pole/Troll zones.
BTT Recommendations to Everglades National Park
- Given that ENP has indicated that boat size and draft and engine size will not be used as standards for delineating access channels, we used the depth contour of 3 feet as the standard for delineating access channels.
- However, we strongly urge that ENP reconsider using boat draft as a standard for creating multiple levels of access. Modern flats skiffs, for example, are designed principally to access shallow areas that other boats are not, and would be suitable for using access channels less than 3 feet in depth.
- If ENP agrees to use boat draft to delineate different levels of access, we will modify channels to reflect areas that are suitable for use in multiple levels of access based on boat draft. Multiple additional access channels that would suit a shallow draft skiff access level have already been identified.
- A comprehensive education program should be the highest priority; the current budget climate does not allow for major implementation and enforcement and user education is relatively inexpensive and effective. Properly educated boaters will cause less damage to seagrass resources and will be more able to properly use the proposed zones and access channels.
- BTT can provide ENP with comprehensive information for education program development, and assist with the program.
- ENP is considering opening a section of the crocodile sanctuary to limited access angling. BTT recommends that this opening be done using a scientifically valid approach to allow evaluation of the opening of the closure. BTT offers to take the lead in research for these areas. For example, if Little Madeira Bay is opened as a No-Motor zone, BTT proposes a controlled fishing-based census with limited and selected anglers to record catch rates, fish size, fish abundance, fish movements (tag-recapture). These data can be used in comparison with other locations to evaluate the type of future management for this area.
- BTT recommends the addition of idle zones into the bights to alleviate propeller scars created by boats entering bights on plane. BTT feels that established idle areas are a critical concession for user buy-in and trust building.
- BTT recommends the establishment of two advisory panels – one for the eastern portion of theEverglades, one for the western portion. The user groups, habitat mosaics, and to some extent fisheries differ among these regions, so should be adaptively managed separately. The advisory panels would act as the reviewers for evaluating current management regimes, changes to those regimes, and inclusion of scientific data pertinent such evaluations.
- Adaptive management (via the advisory panels and ENP staff) should be part of this management plan. For example, mangrove islands used as bird nesting/roosting areas can change year to year or in response to disturbances (e.g., hurricanes). Therefore, areas marked as pole/troll or no-entry or as open access will need to change in response.
Thousands of people inside the park right now don’t know it exists, according to rangers. It is the national park with no name. A new pilot study from Florida International University in Miami found fewer than one in five residents of South Florida were aware of Biscayne National Park. When asked to name it, recognition drops to one in 20.
The FIU study confirms findings in a 2006 study by Clemson University. Speaking with 1,806 residents across South Florida, researchers found that only 94 could name Biscayne National Park. A much higher percentage could name Everglades National Park, a larger and older park located only a few miles west of Biscayne National Park’s headquarters.
Jack Otter writes about bonefishing, and the solitude of Parrot Cay for Barron’s.
Parrot Cay’s solitude extended to my fishing trip. I did not see a single boat. From Cape Cod to Key West, I’ve never experienced such a thing. Then Capt. Gray surprised me again. “I’m not really watching the clock, man,” he said.
John Brownlee writes about fishing in Florida Bay and Everglades National Park. “At the extreme southern tip of mainland Florida, Everglades National Park spreads out across the state in an array of divergent habitats covering almost 1.5 million acres. Most people think of the vast sawgrass marshes made famous in Marjory Stoneman Douglas’ seminal 1947 book, The Everglades: River of Grass when they envision the park, and while it is made up mostly of such terrain, there also exists a different part of the park that fishermen can’t resist”.
The International Game Fish Association and Columbia University have partnered to develop a new application – called IGFACatchLog – that will allow anglers to contribute to fisheries data collection efforts using Apple’s iPhone. As they near completion of a pilot version of the App, the IGFA is offering anglers to opportunity to test it out and earn some great incentives, including a free LifeProof case for the iPhone, Costa sunglasses, and more.
A unique feature of IGFACatchLog will be a visual recognition component, developed by computer scientists at Columbia University, which will help anglers identify a fish from an iPhone photograph. Researchers at Columbia have pioneered similar visual recognition systems for plants through projects like the Leafsnap app. Continue reading
Andrew Bennett and the crew from Deneki Outdoors in South Andros offers some tips for determing what matters most when it comes to bonefish fly selection.
I am pleased to report that our efforts toward making tarpon and bonefish catch and release in Florida took a strong step forward yesterday. A very hearty “Thank You’ to those who contacted the FWC Commissioners in support of this effort, and to those who attended the FWC Commission meeting in Tallahassee on April 17. Your comments and support made a huge difference.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), at its April 17 meeting near Tallahassee, moved forward unanimously with a proposal to make tarpon and bonefish catch-and-release-only fisheries.
The tarpon and bonefish catch-and-release-only proposal includes the following potential changes for management in state and federal waters off Florida:
- Eliminating all harvest of tarpon with the exception of the harvest or possession of a single tarpon when in pursuit of an IGFA record and in conjunction with a tarpon tag.
- Keeping the tarpon tag price at $50 per tag but limiting them to one tag per person, per year.
- Modifying the tarpon tag program, including reporting requirements and shifting the start and end date for when the tarpon tag is valid.
- Requiring that tarpon remain in the water and are released near the site of capture.
- Discontinuing the bonefish tournament exemption permit that allows tournament anglers to temporarily possess bonefish for transport to a tournament scale (this brings the state in line with similar rules in the National Parks in the Keys).
The Draft Rule will be brought back before the Commission for a final vote and public hearing at its June meeting in Lakeland. This meeting will be June 11 – 13, 2013.
Thanks again for your support.
Nassau, Bahamas – Tracing the movement patterns of bonefish is no small feat; anglers admit that the popular sport fish is difficult to catch because of its enigmatic colouring. But Assistant Professor in the School of Chemistry Environmental and Life Sciences at The College of The Bahamas Dr. Karen Murchie and her team tracked 15 bonefish for six months and discovered information that could impact the ecology and the economy of The Bahamas.
Using waters off the south end of Eleuthera as their laboratory, from Starved Creek to Cape Eleuthera, the researchers used acoustic telemetry or tagging and tracking to study the movements of adult bonefish. In a carefully planned and executed process, 47 adult bonefish were surgically implanted with transmitters. Additionally, 27 receivers were positioned along a 14-mile stretch of coastline in creeks, near-shore and off-shore habitat zones to listen for and record the movements of tagged bonefish.