April 19, 2017
(photo: Will Benson)
The Drake recently published an excellent article by Michael Adno about permit fishing in the Florida Keys and BTT's ongoing work to conserve the species:
The bulk of BTT's permit research has focused on establishing patterns in habitat use and movement. By tracking fish as they travel between feeding locations and spawning grounds, they hope to curtail the harvest of permit outside the SPZ (Special Permit Zone), which spans state and federal waters south of Cape Sable on the West Coast (Everglades Natl. Park, west of Flamingo) and south of Biscayne Bay on the East Coast to the end of the Keys. For the past six years, data has been collected from a dart-tagging program, with over 1,200 fish logged. But BTT recently shifted emphasis to an acoustic tagging program spanning more than 40 miles from the Content Keys to the Marquesas, which will exponentially increase data collection. Permit are now among the group's top priorities.
Garnering interest in the tagging program has been a struggle. After drawing excitement initially, it soon tapered off. An angler himself, Adams understands the reluctance to take out a tagging kit, record the information, and release the fish. But ultimately that hard data is required for the state to take action and belies comprehensive reform. "That gives us leverage," Dr. Aaron Adams said. "Luckily, we've benefited greatly from having a good relationship with the FWC (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission)."
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