Florida Scientists Urge That It’s Time To Focus On Bonefish Conservation·
Anglers are catching fewer bonefish in South Florida. Florida International University scientists say there are many factors that could be behind the drop in catches, with warmer temperatures, more predators, fishing and contaminants among them.
FIU coastal ecologist Jennifer Rehage and a team of scientists found the decline is affecting all of South Florida, with some areas more affected than others. They examined bonefish, bonefish catches and water quality throughout Biscayne Bay, Florida Bay and the Florida Keys. They also surveyed and interviewed nearly 300 anglers and fishing guides on their fishing experiences in 2015.
The scientists found bonefish decline began in 1985, with the lowest catches seen after 1999. A 2010 cold spell made things worse for the sportfish, killing many of them, along with other tropical plant and animal species. Changes in both adult and juvenile fish appear to account for the decline. The highest declines are seen in Florida Bay and the lowest in Biscayne Bay.
Adult bonefish take up residence in salty marine environments, but little is known about where they spawn or where juveniles live in South Florida.
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