In 2016, our friends over at the Bonefish and Tarpon trust partnered with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute to create the Bonefish Restoration Research Project (BRRP). The BRRP’s primary goal is to pioneer a method for spawning and rearing bonefish and tarpon in captivity as a means to help restore flats fisheries in the Florida Keys as well as to gain insight into bonefish and tarpon populations worldwide.
Last week, the BRRP reached a huge milestone by successfully inducing spawning in wild bonefish; a first for the species. The finding confirms that it is possible to get bonefish to spawn in captivity which scientists believe could eventually provide enough fish to help replenish the declining bonefish population in the Florida Keys.
Scientists also believe that the opportunity to observe bonefish larva in captivity will offer insight into important characteristics connected with the dispersal of bonefish larva in the wild as well.
To read the full report, be sure to stop by the BTT blog and give it a read by clicking right here.
Eric Brady says
Hatchery bonefish and tarpon? Considering what we know about the impacts of hatchery steelhead, I cringe reading this article. I’m sure the intentions are good, but if we end up with tarpon and bonefish hatcheries, I’ll bet in 40 years the verdict will not be favorable. I don’t know the primary reasons for the decline in bonefish populations, but unless those issues are addressed, it sounds like one more resource heading down the drain.
J. Andrew says
I just want to comment on bonefish numbers. I have fished the same areas for the last 15 years and the flats that are readily accessible, primarily on Abaco and Exuma, and I have noted the significant reduction of the number of caught fish and the number of fish seen. The schools are much smaller and the fish are much more wary. Cherokee Sound and Casuarina Point on Abaco are good cases in point. I haven’t noticed this on Andros but the areas are vast and there are far fewer DIY fishermen.
The last several years I have been walking to remote flats that are difficult to find and tend to be areas where boats don’t get to. In some cases it involves a day where you log 10+ miles walking. The fishing is every bit as good as it has always been.
I can only put the decline in fish down to fishermen. I try to never take a fish out of the water, carefully remove the barbless hooks ( which should be mandatry) and try to release the fish in a predator free zone yet I estimate that about one in every fifty fish I catch has taken the hook deep and is bleeding. Sometimes they actually expire before they are landed. If I am typical, that is 2% of fish caught. You can look up the mortality rates for bonefish that are released in areas where predators are. It is not a great statistic.
On the heavily fished flats the bonefish are slowly getting wiped out. Eventually this will affect Bahamian tourism.
Whether bonefish hatcheries will help stop the decline remains to be seen but, as the previous writer noted caution should be excercised.
Cameron R. Scott says
I tend to agree. After bonefishing the Bahamas for something like 25 or 30 years I have absolutely seen a decline in Bonz. Especially on Abaco and, while the Marls are a huge habitat, we haven’t seen the large areas of tailers that we used to see. Cherokee and Cassuarina are still OK but, for my money, you can’t beat South Andros or the Middle Bight. Just one guys opinion.