April 20, 2011
News from the Tarpon Bonefish Trust
Jerry Lappier
For bonefish, tarpon, and permit, catch and release is something that most of us take for granted. But if you take a careful look around you will note that things may not be as they seem. This was the case for bonefish, one of the signature flats species of the Florida Keys - although not available for commercial sale, they could still be harvested. Thanks to the efforts of many, bonefish will become catch and release in Florida (joining Belize and Puerto Rico) on July 1, 2011. You can read about it in this e-newsletter. BTT also continues to work with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to improve regulations for permit, and a final decision is due in June.

This e-newsletter also shares numerous examples of anglers, guides, and others in the fishing world helping out to learn more about these iconic flats gamefish. This type of support, in addition to our growing membership and fantastic support from our existing members, is giving our research and conservation efforts even more energy. Thanks for the support.

As always, tight lines.
Aaron Adams, Ph.D.
Operations Director

Florida Bonefish Catch and Release Regulations

At their April 6 meeting, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission voted unanimously to put in place new regulations that will make bonefish a catch and release species in Florida. The new regulations take effect July 1, 2011.

The commissioners and numerous speakers during the public comment period praised FWC staff for working with all stakeholders to fashion a good set of regulations that enhances the conservation status of bonefish in Florida. The new rules allow for an exemption for tournaments that use a weigh-in system, with strong requirements for fish handling and transport. The rules also allow for IGFA-approved world records. Bonefish can be briefly held for photos before being returned to the water. For best handling practices to ensure bonefish survive catch and release, please see BTT's Best Handling Practices guidelines.

New Permit Regulations on the Way for Florida

At their April 6 meeting, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission voted unanimously to accept the recommendations of their staff, and will consider the proposed new regulations for a final vote at their meeting in June 2011. The proposed new regulations can be viewed here.

Project Permit Tagging Procedures

BTT is very grateful to all anglers who have volunteered to participate in Costa's Project Permit tagging program. As the program expands and more anglers tag more permit, we think it is valuable to reinforce tagging procedures. We include a diagram of where to tag on the back of the datasheet, but there may still be some confusion. The tag should be placed under the finlets behind the main dorsal fin, and close to the finlets so that the tag is inserted among the bones that extend down from the finlets. This is necessary to hold the tag in place. If the tag is only inserted into the muscle tissue, it is much more likely to fall out. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, we are pleased that 406 Productions has created a Project Permit tagging video that shows the correct tagging procedure. Click here to view the video.

BTT Best Handling Practices

Don't forget that the Florida-wide permit tagging project is beginning its second year. We've had fish tagged from end to end of the state - from Key West to Apalachicola - so we expect to learn some great new information about permit over the next few years. If you fish for permit, you should be tagging them - help contribute to the future of the fishery. Click here for more information.

Bonefish Recapture in Abaco

The bonefish tag and recapture effort continues at a strong pace at Abaco, The Bahamas. During the recent Redbone Celebrity Tournament, Baker's Bay Bonefish Classic tournament on Abaco, 50 bonefish were tagged. The top tagger for guides was Capt. Danny Sawyer, and the top tagging angler was Bill Hussey of Charleston, SC. In addition, a tagged bonefish was recaptured during the tournament: bonefish with tag #0065 was recaptured in the southern marls (Guide - Capt. Dee Albury; Angler - Gore Flynn), not far from where it had been tagged by Mick Kolassa (BTT board member) during the Abaco Bonefish Roundup in October 2010. Thanks to the guides and anglers who continue to contribute to bonefish research, which leads to bonefish conservation.

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