A History and an Overview of Recent Trends in the Fisheries of Florida Bay
This paper presents a historical review and description of the fisheries of the Florida Bay. Documented interest in the fishery resources of Florida Bay dates from the earliest accounts of human activity. However, prior to the 1940's, fishing activities were largely subsistence oriented, providing only supplemental family income. The first large-scale directed fishery was for striped mullet which provided the primary economic support of the historic Flamingo fishing village in the 1920's. Increased development of south Florida, improved transportation, and population growth all led to increased sport fishing activities during the 1940's and 1950's, which increased the development of the commercial silver mullet and live shrimp bait fisheries. By the early 1970's, there were an estimated 25,000 recreational fishing trips a year to Florida Bay. Commercial activities reached a peak between 1977 and 1978 when over 350 individuals held permits to guide or fish commercially using nets, hook-and-line, or traps. Concern for the conservation of Florida Bay's marine resources quickly followed the explosion of commercial and recreational use occurring in the late 1940's. Florida Bay was added to Everglades National Park in 1950 and, in 1951, the first special government regulations were established to control the methods, species, and locations of fish harvest, although no systematic effort was made to collect accurate catch and harvest statistics until 1958. The National Park Service (NPS) monitoring program has provided detailed data on the fishing effort and harvest of both commercial and recreational fisheries up to the present time. Five species (gray snapper, spotted seatrout, red drum, sheepshead and black drum) have comprised over 86% of the sportfish harvest since 1958. The total recreational fish harvest from Florida Bay by guided and non-guided parties has ranged between 700,000 and 800,000 fish per year since 1984. Species most frequently sought by guide fishermen include tarpon, bonefish, snook, spotted seatrout, gray snapper, red drum, and Spanish mackerel.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 1989-01-01
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