Status and Trends - Introduction

This article is an introduction to "Florida's Inshore and Nearshore Species: 2013 Status and Trends Report."

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This is the eighteenth year that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute Stock Assessment Group has produced the Status and Trends Report. This year’s report summarizes the available 1992-2012 commercial and recreational landings, fishing effort, fishery catch rates, and the 1997-2012 fisheries-independent sampling effort, and young-of-the-year and post-young-of-the-year abundance indices for 136 species or groups. The condition of these species or groups was determined using information from recent stock assessments, when available. Otherwise, the condition was assessed using available commercial landings rates, recreational total-catch rates, and fishery independent abundance indices. The status determination and supporting trend-analyses reported here are designed to highlight potential areas of concern about recent substantial changes in Florida’s diverse marine fisheries.

The ascribed conditions and trends reported here are not intended to replace stock assessments. Stock assessments entail in-depth analyses where the population dynamics of a particular species are thoroughly investigated using available biological, ecological, and fisheries data.

Summaries of the data on life history, ecology, fishery characteristics, fish health, and recent stock assessments are provided for six important species or species groups of special interest to Florida’s fisheries managers: blue crab, red drum, stone crab, Caribbean spiny lobster, common snook, and spotted seatrout. During alternate years, we update ‘species accounts’ for an additional 42 species or species groups.

Most species or groups on the Atlantic coast in 2012 were judged stable (70 species or groups). Five were increasing, three were decreasing, and 56 were too rarely caught to determine their status. Similarly on the gulf coast, most of the species or groups were stable (100), five were increasing, zero were decreasing, and 27 were too rarely caught to determine their status. Valid data for two species were assumed to be available only from the waters along Florida’s Atlantic coast: weakfish and American shad.

Compared to last year’s report, the numbers of stable or increasing groups this year were the same on the Atlantic coast and higher on the Gulf coast (7 more). The numbers of decreasing groups are slightly higher compared to last year on the Atlantic coast (1 more) and have decreased to zero (six less) on the Gulf coast. Very few species or groups that were judged either increasing, decreasing, or stable last year moved into the insufficient data category (1 on the Atlantic coast and 1 on the gulf coast).

Sea cucumbers (marine life) on the Atlantic coast have shown consecutive ‘decreasing’ status the last two years. Amberjack, vermilion snapper, and triggerfish on the Atlantic coast and shrimp (marine life) on the Gulf coast have shown consecutive ‘increasing’ status the last two years.

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