Permit Research


Despite the economic value of the recreational permit fishery in Florida and the wider Caribbean, there has never been a stock assessment, and even basic data are lacking, such as fishing effort, harvest, habitat use, migration patterns, age structure, growth rates. Some anecdotal evidence suggests a decline in the fishery in Florida, but without fisheries data there is no way to verify or refute the anecdotal reports. The pseudo-stock assessment conducted in 1996 states “there are little data available with which to assess the condition of the permit stock(s)”, and the data status is unchanged in 2010. Moreover, the decline in stocks of groupers, snappers, and other species that overlap in habitat use with permit appears to have shifted recreational fishing effort toward permit in some locations, which may lead to serial overfishing (overfishing species one by one).

The permit fishery in Florida is very diverse, ranging from sight fishing on flats with fly rods to fishing on offshore reefs with conventional gear. Similarly, some sectors of the fishery are catch and release while others harvest permit. Therefore the user group ‘recreational’ can be parsed into smaller, better defined groups. To a great extent these sectors are also geographically separated, with flats fishing occurring in the Florida Keys, and offshore fishing occurring in areas north of the Keys. Much of the effort on offshore reefs focuses on what are likely spawning aggregations of permit, where harvest may cause problems in the future.

Rather than follow what might be termed a typical fisheries management approach of imposing management regulations after a fishery declines, the proposed collaborative approach will obtain data while the fishery appears to be in relatively good health, and will involve user groups in collection of the data. The data can then be applied to an adaptive, proactive management approach.

The first step in Project Permit is to determine the spatial dynamics of the fish and fishery. This is being done via a five-year tagging program in which guides and anglers are engaged in tagging permit with dart tags. Data on tag and recapture locations will be used to estimate movement patterns, and thus define the geographic scale most appropriate for management. Length data from tag and recapture reports will provide the first information on the size structure of the permit fishery. Future work will examine effects of catch and release on permit, improve estimates of fishing effort and harvest, examine factors associated with spawning, develop a better understanding of permit age and growth, and determine the economic value of the fishery.

In September 2015, BTT began a three-year project that will use acoustic tracking to determine permit movements in the Lower Keys. Small acoustic transmitters, each with a unique subsonic ping, will be surgically implanted in permit. The goal is to place transmitters in 30 permit in each year of the study.

The pings from the transmitters will be detected by an array of 60 receivers placed in the Lower Keys. If a permit swims in range of a receiver, it will be detected and recorded. If any of the permit are detected by scientific colleagues' receivers in the Keys and along the coasts of Florida, they will be reported to us.

Ongoing Projects

Costa's Project Permit 


Archive of Permit Research

Studies Receiving BTT Support

Patterns of juvenile habitat use and seasonality of settlement by permit, Trachinotus falcatus.
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General Archive of Research Articles

Adams, A. J. & Blewett, D. A. (2004). Spatial patterns of estuarine habitat type use and temporal patters in abundance of juvenile permit, Trachinotus falcatus, in Charlotte Harbor, Florida. Gulf and Caribbean Research 16, 129-139.

Adams, A. J., et al. (2006). "Patterns of juvenile habitat use and seasonality of settlement by permit, Trachinotus falcatus." Environmental Biology of Fishes 75: 209-217.

Armstrong, M. P., et al. (1996). A stock assessment of Permit, Trachinotus falcatus, in Florida waters. St. Petersburg, Florida Department of Environmental Protection - Florida Marine Research Institute: 11.

Crabtree, R. E., et al. (2002). "Age, growth, and reproduction of permit (Trachinotus falcatus) in Florida waters." Fish. Bull. 100: 26-34. Download PDF

Finucane, J. H. (1969). "Ecology of the pompano (Trachinotus carolinus) and the permit (T. falcatus) in Florida." Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 3: 478-486.

Jory, D. E. (1986). "An incident of predation on queen conch, Strombus gigas L. (Mollusca, Strombidae), by Atlantic permit, Trachinotus falcatus L. (Pisces, Carangidae)." J. Fish. Biol. 28: 129-131.