GPS Company Contacts Needed-ENP Mapping Project | Bonefish & Tarpon Trust
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GPS Company Contacts Needed-ENP Mapping Project

We are asking our members and followers for help in taking the next step in flats fisheryIMG_0063 conservation. We need assistance from anyone with contacts at GPS companies. We would like them to participate in a mapping project that will help protect flats habitats while ensuring fishing access to the flats. Read on for more details and please email info@bonefishtarpontrust.org if you are able to help.

Everglades National Park recently instituted their new management plan. A significant part of this management plan is the creation of many pole/troll/idle speed zones to protect shallow seagrass habitat. BTT worked with ENP, guides, and anglers to map the flats and access channels to ensure there is access to these new zones as well as to ensure the shallow seagrass beds are protected. These maps have been ground-truthed to ensure accuracy.

An important component of the new ENP management plan is the boater education course- in order for a person to operate a boat in the Park, the boat operator must complete the course that includes conservation, habitat, and vessel operation information. However, many of these boat operators will not have intimate knowledge of Park waters that would aid navigation. And many of the new access channels will be different, so even boaters with local knowledge will have a learning curve.

Working with Everglades National Park, we would like to provide our new mapping data to the companies that produce the commercial GPS units that many of us have on our boats. This would save a lot of money for the Park by reducing the amount of channels and zones that have to be marked. More importantly, it would ensure that boaters remain in the access channels and avoid running in shallow water, both of which will help habitat conservation and fishing. (It’s important to note that these data DO NOT include information on fishing, only the channels for boat operations and the boundaries of the management zones.)

We’ve had trouble contacting the commercial GPS companies to get this done. We realize this won’t be a big money maker for them, but we’ve already obtained the data so the costs are greatly reduced. We are hopeful that these companies see the conservation (and thus PR) value in including these mapping data in their platforms. In addition, as more resource management agencies turn to spatial management strategies (that is, different types of management zones), this approach is going to become even more important to the flats fishery – the conservation and fishing implications are large.

Our request is for contact information for the GPS companies so that we can work with them to include these data in their platforms, and the same data can reach the public in a user-friendly fashion. The future of the fishery depends on good conservation measures, and healthy fisheries help the bottom lines of these companies – it’s in their best interest to become involved. Thanks for your help. Please contact info@bonefishtarpontrust.org.