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Bonefish & Tarpon Trust's Conservation Initiatives

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Bonefish & Tarpon Trust's Conservation Initiatives

Bonefish & Tarpon Trust's Conservation members make a stand today to preserve Bonefish &Tarpon fishing for generations to come.

It is no coincidence that the anglers who have stalked, hooked, played & released Bonefish or Tarpon consider them to be two of fishing’s supreme challenges. Only a few species can match the 22mph burst speeds of bonefish, or the acrobatics & strength of a determined Tarpon. Once you hook up with either, you feel the unbridled survival instincts of two of the earth’s oldest creatures. Rather than risk an irreversible decline of these two species, BTT members are making a stand today to preserve Bonefish &Tarpon fishing for generations to come.

Make Permit Catch and Release in Florida

Many anglers don't know this, but permit aren't even protected from commercial sale! A catch and release fishery for permit would go a long way toward ensuring the value of the recreational fishery into the future. The economic contribution of recreational fishing for permit certainly far exceeds its value as a commercial fish, and photos of recreationally caught permit from the Florida Keys regularly appear in national fishing magazines. Moreover, catch and release fishing for permit is sustainable, whereas commercial harvest of these fish is not. BTT has requested that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission take action to ensure the long-term health of the recreational permit fishery in Florida.  BTT has also requested that FWC undertake research and a stock assessment of permit to provide the information that is needed for effective management.

Please support BTT's effort to make bonefish catch and release in Florida by contacting the Commissioners and voicing your support.  You can contact them by email.

BTT Initiative to Make Bonefish Catch and Release in Florida

BTT has petitioned the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to designate bonefish as a catch and release species. Many did not realize that bonefish could still be harvested in Florida, but bonefish over 18" can be harvested - 1 per person per day. Since it is estimated that the bonefish population in the Florida Keys is more than 85% smaller than it was in the 1960s, there is cause for concern, and BTT believes that all aspects of bonefish conservation should be pursued. BTT's petition requests that bonefish are made catch and release, with possession possible only with a 'trophy' tag that must be purchased from FWC (similar to the tarpon tag program). Please support BTT's effort to make bonefish catch and release in Florida by contacting the Commissioners and voicing your support.  You can contact them by email.
Tarpon Federal Gamefish Initiative

Bonefish & Tarpon Trust believes that making Atlantic tarpon (Megalops atlanticus), the “Silver King”, a Federal gamefish, is necessary to conserve tarpon for the recreational, economic and environmental benefit of present and future generations of Americans.  Tarpon are prized saltwater fish that can live in excess of 80 years and grow to well over 250 pounds, making them especially susceptible to overfishing. Tarpon sport fishing contributes more than $6 billion annually to the regional economies of coastal southeast US and Gulf of Mexico from Virginia to Texas.  Although primarily a catch-and-release fishery, sustainable tarpon populations are under threat from numerous sources including, critical natal habitat losses, unnecessary U.S. harvests by hook-and-line and spears in some States due to lack of regulations, and directed commercial and subsistence harvests by long-lines and gill nets in Mexico, Cuba and the broader Caribbean.

Port Aransas, Texas, once known as the “Tarpon Capitol of the World”, and a host to presidents and potentates for exceptional tarpon fishing in the 1950s, today has declined so greatly that the catch of a single tarpon today warrants special mention.  New satellite-based tagging research has shown that tarpon undergo extensive long-range migrations throughout the Gulf of Mexico, southeastern Atlantic US coast (seasonally as far north as Virginia), and Caribbean Sea.  This means that the tarpon fishery relies on a single shared regional population, and thus requires an integrated regional and international management plan. Regulations in many States and neighboring countries are either nonexistent or not adequate. To protect these vital fisheries and their associated economies tarpon must be declared a Federal Gamefish. Federal Gamefish status for tarpon would further the administration’s efforts to end over-fishing, and advance cooperative conservation based on sound science and in cooperation with State, territorial, and local governments, the private sector, and others, as appropriate. Therefore, Federal Gamefish status for tarpon would also support the administration’s Ocean Action Plan as tarpon’s use coastal wetlands and estuaries as juveniles, and nearshore and coastal oceanic habitats as adults, makes tarpon good indicators of coastal ocean health and climate change. 

Federal Gamefish for tarpon would ensure that the Commerce and Interior Departments work together with regional fishery management councils and commissions to improve the quality of our data and provide more accurate scientific records and research about sustainable tarpon population levels.  Protection would also encourage States to examine their management of tarpon stocks, prohibit sale or possession of tarpon caught in federal waters, and directly facilitate the cooperation of federal and State fisheries managers to ensure that State and federal regulations protect this important fishery. Federal gamefish status will also provide leverage for working with neighboring countries to institute an international regional management plan for tarpon.

Contact your representatives to the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, and voice your support for this important initiative.

Belize Catch and Release Regulations

Bonefish & Tarpon Trust wholeheartedly supports the efforts in Belize to designate bonefish, tarpon, and permit as catch and release species. Using a recent economic study that demonstrated the value of the recreational fisheries for these species as justification, lodge owners and conservation-minded supporters convinced the Belize legislature to draft and pass legislation giving these three species catch and release only. This act underscores Belize's commitment to the long-term health of these important fisheries.
The Bahamas Initiative

This project is part of the Bahamas Flats Fishing Alliance. The objectives are:

    * Collect basic natural history information on bonefish, including species identity, age-growth, and movement patterns.
    * Coordinate and conduct bonefish conservation and education efforts throughout The Bahamas.
    * Develop a Bahamas Bonefish Research and Conservation Webpage to facilitate communication, education, and sharing of program results

For more information about the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust please visit www.tarbone.org.

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