Fishing event to boost conservation, hatchery effort
As I See It
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Media contact: Rodney Barreto
The thrill of landing a big saltwater fish lures
many avid anglers to pursue Florida's great sport-fishing
opportunities. Most anglers want these experiences to be available
in the future, too. So, when an occasion to pursue big fish
coincides with a chance to contribute to the future of fishing in
Florida, you can imagine that there is a lot of interest.
That is exactly what is expected with the upcoming
Big Reds Tournament on Saturday, Nov. 13, in the Indian River
Lagoon on Florida's Atlantic coast.
The Wildlife Foundation of Florida is hosting the
Big Reds Tournament to raise awareness about the Florida Marine
Fisheries Enhancement Initiative and to create an opportunity for
anglers to help develop East Coast hatcheries. The Foundation, the
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and their
partners in the initiative are creating a network of statewide
hatcheries to provide fish for the present and the future. This
public and private partnership was established to help maintain
healthy populations of Florida's marine sport fish.
The Initiative is building on the stock-enhancement
program begun by the FWC in the late 1980s. FWC researchers at the
Stock Enhancement Research Facility in Port Manatee have raised and
released more than 6 million juvenile redfish on Florida's Atlantic
and Gulf coasts.
To ensure that hatchery-raised fish do not harm
wild stocks, researchers monitor the health and genetic diversity
of these fish. Ongoing research conducted by FWC scientists and
their partners continues to move Florida in the direction of
developing marine fisheries stock to complement other fisheries
management tools, such as fishing regulations and habitat
One of the initial steps in establishing an East
Coast hatchery is to collect a breeding stock. For this purpose,
the FWC and its partners need to collect mature, healthy fish from
Florida's East Coast. To accomplish this task, the Florida Marine
Fisheries Enhancement Initiative created a unique opportunity for
anglers to participate in the effort - The Big Reds Tournament.
The tournament invites registered anglers to
collect live, healthy redfish from the Indian River Lagoon. An
event like this requires some special planning and some special
rules. Since the goal of the tournament is to collect live fish
that will be transferred to hatchery tanks, it is critical that
participants handle the fish they catch carefully and properly.
Participating anglers will be provided with an FWC
Special Activity License to allow for harvest of
over-the-slot-limit redfish for hatchery purposes, and they will be
required to attend a briefing that includes fish-handling
guidelines. Chase boats in the tournament fishing areas will pick
up the fish from the anglers and place them in onboard livewells or
holding nets. After the event, trained personnel will safely
transport the fish to their destination.
Partner organizations assisting the Wildlife
Foundation of Florida and the FWC with this effort include
Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute, Harbor Branch at Florida
Atlantic University, Mote Marine Laboratory and the Florida
Institute of Technology.
The guiding theme for the Florida Marine Fisheries
Enhancement Initiative is ensuring Florida's saltwater resources
continue to provide great fishing opportunities for current and
future anglers. For more information about the initiative and the
tournament, visit www.MyFMFEI.org.