By tagging and genetically sampling permit, catch-and-release
anglers can participate in an unprecedented statewide study of the
The permit, Trachinotus falcatus, is a prized catch in
Florida--famously pursued over the crystal flats of the Keys along
with bonefish and tarpon, but also popular off the beaches and
reefs of both coasts. Commercial fishermen, hook-and-line anglers,
and spear divers regard permit as tasty table fare.
Yet this prizefighter on the flats has attracted surprisingly
little attention from researchers. Only one life history study, by
Crabtree and others in 2001, has documented the species' age,
growth, and reproduction in Florida. That study examined 536 fish,
mostly from the Keys.
To obtain more statewide information on the species, the Florida
Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the private
Bonefish & Tarpon Trust launched Project Permit in March 2010.
The trust proposed the collaborative study after obtaining a grant
from Costa Del Mar, which agreed to supply funds for the tagging
kits for three to five years.
The project depends upon permit anglers to learn about the
resource, then tag and fin-clip the fish they catch and release.
Both the tag and the DNA obtained from the fin clip can be used to
determine if the same fish is recaptured later. A similar study assists
genetic research on tarpon.
Two kinds of data analysis will help resource managers determine
whether to regulate the permit fishery statewide or develop
separate rules for different regions. First, biologists will look
at movement patterns (e.g., reefs to shore, reef to reef, inshore
to offshore, south to north) of recaptured permit from the
recreational fishery. Second, scientists at the FWC's Fish
and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) will examine the genetic
samples to assess the population structure and determine whether
permit throughout Florida's coastal and inshore waters share a
single genetic stock.
Join the Permit Research Team
|Photo Credit: Chris Gardinal
To obtain a free tagging kit and instructions, e-mail ProjectPermit@MyFWC.com
or call 1-800-367-4461. Specify that you would
like to help tag permit.
Each kit contains enough material to sample five fish. Clipping
a half-inch piece of tissue from the soft rays of the anal or
dorsal fin will provide enough DNA to allow them to evaluate stock
structure. Anglers may hold their samples until the end of the
season and deliver them at their convenience. No refrigeration is
necessary, but extreme heat should be avoided. Fin clips can be
mailed to the FWRI at the following address:
Attn: Project Permit
FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute
100 Eighth Avenue SE
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Other data reports can be mailed, scanned and e-mailed, or
submitted online. The data sheet in each tagging kit includes
instructions for doing so.