The international conservation group, the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust (BTT), has highlighted seven significant achievements of 2021 that has resulted in benefiting flats fisheries.
Protecting spawning permit. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission enacted a four-month, no-fishing closure at Western Dry Rocks, the most important spawning site for flats permit in the Lower Keys. BTT provided the science necessary to inform this decision by FWC and advocated successfully for the new measure.
Restoring mangroves. BTT launched the largest mangrove restoration effort in Bahamas history. With the help of students, fishing guides, volunteers and partners, more than 16,000 mangroves have been planted so far, breathing new life into an ecosystem devastated by Hurricane Dorian. The restored mangrove forests will provide habitat for flats species and greater resilience for local communities.
Tarpon catch-and-release in North Carolina. A new catch-and-release regulation became law in North Carolina, protecting tarpon as they migrate through state waters in the summer.
Coastal habitat conservation. BTT was awarded a $250,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to begin the process of planning two coastal habitat restoration projects on Florida’s Gulf Coast. This expands ongoing efforts to identify, restore and conserve important juvenile tarpon habitats.
Improving fishery management in Mexico. A recently completed economic impact assessment of Mexico’s flats fishery determined that the resource generates $55.9 million (USD) annually and supports more than 1,600 jobs. Conducted by BTT, the study will help make the case for improved fishery management along Mexico’s Caribbean coast.
Reducing nutrient pollution. A new Wastewater Grants Programme championed by Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis, became law and awarded its first grants to improve infrastructure. BTT supported establishment of the programme, which represents an important step forward in removing harmful contaminants that threaten the flats fishery.
Everglades restoration. It was a banner year for Everglades restoration, including the selection of a new model by the US Army Corps of Engineers to manage Lake Okeechobee, completion of the C-44 reservoir and Kissimmee River restoration, removal of the final stretch of the Old Tamiami Trail roadbed, and the recommendation by Governor DeSantis to spend $660 million in the next budget to continue critical projects.
Picture: BTT and partners have planted more than 16,000 mangroves in the Bahamas. Photo: Nick Roberts