Permit are a popular target for recreational anglers in the Western Atlantic, Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico. Anecdotal evidence suggests permit populations are declining in some regions, including the Florida Keys. For this reason, beginning in 2011, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) enacted new regulations for permit, creating a Special Permit Zone in the Florida Keys. One of the regulations is the closure of permit harvest during the spawning season, identified as May through July.
The efficacy of this regulation was unclear because of the lack of knowledge of the timing of spawning events. In 2016, Bonefish and Tarpon Trust started a multiyear acoustic telemetry study on Permit to assess movement patterns to determine how frequently Permit cross the Special Permit Zone boundaries and the timing of presence at key spawning sites.
Why this matters
Data from this project, combined with observations from guides and anglers, indicate that permit are showing up earlier on the reefs and wrecks to spawn—they are arriving in April. Based on this information, the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust requested that the FWC expand the spawning season harvest closure to include April, which they voted to approve in February 2018. This action shows how collaboration between the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust, FWC, and fishing guides and anglers enabled informed management decisions that will provide long term benefits for the fishery.
- Bonefish and Tarpon Trust
- Carleton University
- University of Massachusetts Amherst
- Ongoing. To date, more than 140 permit have been tagged with acoustic tags. Although the tagging activity is nearing an end, because the tags are active for approximately three years, we will continue to maintain the array of acoustic receivers to track these fish.