Bonefish decline in FL

Well… this is interesting.  Looks like bones have been on the decline in FL for a while now and the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust is going to try and get to the bottom of it.

UPPER KEYS — Bonefish are among the most iconic of Florida Keys sportfish. But with the local population of the legendary “gray ghosts” believed to have declined over the past several decades, a prominent conservation organization is seeking to find out why.

Read the whole story here.

The prey study comes on the heels of a dissertation completed over the summer which concluded that the South Florida bonefish stock has declined 70 percent since anglers descended in large numbers upon the region and began targeting the species as a premier sportfish.

Wow… 70%.  That’s shocking and sobering and maybe a little depressing.

Knowledge is the key here so I’m glad BTT is on the case.

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  1. Why did it take so long for BTT to get involved? This has been happening for a long time.

  2. I’d bet they have been involved in looking at these issues in some way already. They are a pretty small group, remember. They wouldn’t have the resources to do a $100K study very often, so the funding must have dropped in place to allow this to go forward, if I were to take a guess.

  3. Bonefish decline! The study will prove out the already known. Rain run-off and welfare recipients ( Sugar ) discharges have almost completely trashed South Florida’s water – all the way to the Florida Reef. What else would you expect.

  4. Makes me sad.

  5. BTT has had funding to do bonefish studies in the Bahamas. Maybe the priorities are slightly off.

  6. Well, it is the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, not the American Bonefish & Tarpon Trust. No other organization has done or will do as much for the Big Three as these guys do. There is always more that can be done. I’ve worked the nonprofit sector, including in river conservation. Without BTT… who is there? I’m a fan, and will continue to be one. They do a lot without much. They have a total budget of something like $600K last time I looked (actually, less than that the last time I looked). I’m glad they are there.

  7. I think a study of the problem is worthwhile but do I think it will provide an answer or solution in our lifetime? Not much chance. This fishery was the greatest tarpon and bonefish area for flyfishing in the entire world. It has been in decline for decades and is now in total collapse. The Everglades National Park has been the jewel of all the national parks and is the epicenter of many keys fisheries. The pathetic

  8. management of the park waters should be a hanging offense. At least there is a new management plan. Wait a minute, where is that new management plan?
    There are enough scientists, anglers and guides out there that have spent a large portion of there lives in these waters and they have enough common sense and years of science to come up with a plan of action right now. If we wait for the studies to tell us what to do, we will all be deader than the bonefish and tarpon that use to flood over these waters. It is time for more than a few vocal individuals to grow an actual set of balls and DO SOMETHING NOW!

  9. One other thing. Many of the people that fund BTT live and fish in the Florida Keys. This is an incredible ( was ) and important fishery that is and has been in real trouble for a long time. I think the Bahamas is a great place to bonefish but I think BTT has spent their time and money in the wrong place.

  10. Living in Florida, and having fished rather extensively throughout the Caribbean, I would argue FLorida is still undeniably the best place on earth to catch Tarpon. As for the bonefish, it seems rather intrinsic that we would see population decrease with the increase of fishing pressure. This site, pulling from BTT numbers if I recall correctly, has posted multiple times on the drastically increased mortality rate of bonefish after a catch; even with a proper and ethical release. With the bonefishing in the keys having exploded within the past 20 years, why wouldn’t we assume that the fish population would be adversely effected? Obviously 70% seems like quite a high number and I am not totally convinced that it is an accurate representation. Using tournament catch rates from Islamorada for 40+ years might sound great, but if that was the only means of information gathering that study is certainly incomplete (having not read the dissertation I am only pulling from what the article said). Regardless of how you think BTT should spend their money, they are a fantastic organization who have done, and will continue to do, a wonderful job of informing the public, researching the species, and protecting the fish.

  11. Sportfishing for bonefish is not the problem. Mortality of released fish is quite low. Mortality from nets, bad water, reduced forage due to over harvesting of shrimp, mosquito spraying, freezes, predation by sharks and dolphin, habitat destruction, and a host of other factors is many times worse. By the way it would be nice if jet skis and kite boarders would stay off of the flats

  12. Bob is right on target. There are many things that can be done now. There is a lot of good science already available and that combined with experience and common sense can make a big difference right now.
    I would agree that the keys has the best fishery in thd world for big tarpon on a fly BUT the Everglades National Park was ground zero for some of the greatest and most unique tarpon fishing ever! Now, most of those areas in the park do not have a tarpon migration. There are plenty of reasons but the total lack of management by the park and the almost total lack of enforcement have guaranteed this travesty. The problems in the park do not stop at the boundary lines- it is also affecting areas outside the park and the trend is getting worse.

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