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Marine Fisheries Research

The waters along Florida’s coastline attract millions of recreational anglers and thousands of commercial fishers. Marine Fisheries Research biologists study the fish and invertebrates found in the state’s saltwater environments, gathering data important for the management of these species. The section’s research includes collecting and analyzing fishing data, monitoring species status and abundance, investigating biological information, and breeding and rearing certain species to enhance or rebuild their populations.


Saltwater Fish

A hogfish swims through a coral reef environment.

Marine Fisheries staff at FWRI conduct a variety of studies on many different commercially and recreationally important finfish. The studies include life histories, age and growth analyses, and research on reproduction.


Underwater photo of two scallops in seagrass

Fish and Wildlife Research Institute scientists based in St. Petersburg and Marathon conduct research on scallops, oysters, clams, conch and other molluscan species at various locations across the state. They collect data on life history, biology, age structure, stock abundance and fishery characteristics, which are analyzed to monitor trends in mollusc populations throughout Florida. In some instances, molluscs are cultured and released to help evaluate the use of hatchery-reared animals as a management tool for rebuilding or enhancing coastal fisheries.

Crustaceans and Marine Arthropods

stone crab on a boat deck

The Crustacean Fisheries group is responsible for providing information on blue crab, stone crab, shrimp, and horseshoe crab fisheries in Florida.

Fisheries-Independent Monitoring

The Fisheries-Independent Monitoring program (“FIM” for short) collects data on hundreds of fish and invertebrate species that inhabit Florida’s riverine, estuarine, and coastal reef habitats. This includes monitoring abundance trends of important fish and invertebrate species over time, defining seasonal and spatial trends, and habitat preference of key species. It is FIM’s mission to provide timely and valuable data for use in the management and conservation of Florida’s diverse fishery resources.

Two men and a woman stand next to a white tray holding lots of small fish. They are measuring some of the fish with small rulers.

Fisheries-Dependent Monitoring

The Fisheries-Dependent Monitoring division collects data on more than 200 species of fish and invertebrates harvested from Florida waters. Fishery-dependent data, collected directly from people who harvest aquatic species, is used to monitor harvest rates and assess the health of exploited fish and invertebrate populations.

Photo of a female researcher measuring a fish caught by an angler

Specimen Collections

The Fish and Wildlife Research Institute has three extensive collections which include more than 741,000 cataloged, preserved invertebrates as well as adult and larval fish.

Collage of specimens on a black background

Status and Trends Report

FWRI collects catch-and-effort data and provides information to those assessing the effects that current and proposed management regulations have or might have on fish stocks, fishing practices, and fishers. Species accounts provide a summary of the biology of and fishery information for a particular species. The accounts provide life history information, statewide landings, trends in catch rates, and results of recent stock assessments.

Stock Assessments

The Stock Assessment program collects and analyzes data concerning the recreational and commercial fisheries harvests. These data provide the only source of information for management regulations.

Stock Enhancement

The Marine Fisheries Stock Enhancement program uses applied research to develop the technology for spawning and rearing fish to enhance or help restore coastal fisheries. The program has spawned and reared red drum, common snook, spotted seatrout, bay scallops, and queen conch.

Photo of a young man holding a fish that is being measured by a hatchery employee

Aquatic Health Program

Fish Health staff monitor and study marine organism diseases, die-offs and fish kills, and the causes, such as infectious agents, parasites, contaminants, red tides, biological toxins and poor water quality, that may be associated with these events.

Image of a large dead whale shark on the beach