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Top Updates from the FIM Program


November 29, 2022

A researcher is holding a fish in the water.

Scientists with the Fisheries-Independent Monitoring (FIM) program have been working on a grant-funded research project to track the movement of juvenile sport fish within and around Robinson Preserve, a fish-focused habitat restoration site located on the south shore of Tampa Bay in Manatee County, Florida Government. The goal of the study is to investigate how juvenile sport fish navigate through the protected waters of the fish nursery habitats created within the restoration site and estimate how many move out into sub-adult and adult habitats of Tampa Bay and surrounding waters, thereby potentially contributing to the fisheries. To do this, scientists are using acoustic telemetry to monitor fish movements. Staff have placed acoustic listening devices (receivers) in and around the Preserve, which are listening for up to 80 tagged juvenile sport fish. These tags emit a sound that is picked up when the fish pass by the receivers, allowing scientists to track individual fish for 2-3 years. Data from this study can be used to inform future restoration habitat design features.

“Track” this research at the project website.

This research is supported by a Tampa Bay Environmental Restoration Fund grant through the Tampa Bay Estuary Program and Restore America's Estuaries.

September 19, 2022

Two people on either end of a large net are standing in knee deep water along mangroves.

It’s #NationalEstuariesWeek!

Estuaries are important natural places, often called the “nurseries of the sea”. Numerous animal species rely on estuaries for nesting and breeding, and for juvenile sportfish, estuaries mean plenty of food and places to hide from predators!

Charlotte Harbor is the second largest estuary in Florida and home to one of FWRI’s field labs.

Our Fisheries-Independent Monitoring (FIM) biologists in Charlotte Harbor conduct monthly sampling surveys within the estuary recording water quality, habitat types and fish community data.

FIMs sampling techniques tend to target juvenile and sub-adult fishes, the abundance trends are a valuable forecasting tool for future adult stocks. Fisheries managers use these FIM data as well as other fisheries data to assess the overall well-being of fish populations.

June 27, 2022

Several people in deep water pull together a large net floating in the water.

Through support from the National Park Service, researchers from FWC’s Fisheries Independent Monitoring (FIM) program have been monitoring the coastal waters of the Everglades National Park (ENP). The project began in 2019 to provide information on ecosystem changes in response to Everglades restoration efforts. Using multiple seine and trawl nets, FIM’s sampling design allows scientists to gather data on the entire fish community at different life stages in diverse habitats, providing a comprehensive picture of marine life within the ENP. Last April, the FIM program sampled within the ENP for 21 days deploying 244 nets, identifying and counting 30,429 individuals from 139 distinct taxa!

Monitoring activities are conducted under permit number EVER-2021-SCI-0019

March 8, 2022

Common Snook and Gray Snapper have been observed using freshwater springs in rivers to keep warm during winter, much like manatees. As their range expands northward, these thermal refuges are critical for survival, but we have limited information on how snook and snapper use the rivers and springs over time and space.

Recently, FWRI’s Fish Biology and Fisheries Independent Monitoring sections partnered with Southwest Florida Water Management District, UF IFAS Nature Coast Biological Station, Florida Sea Grant and UF IFAS Tropical Aquaculture Laboratory to tag snook and snapper in rivers along the springs coast. During a 3.5 day blitz, biologists tagged 70 snook and 30 snapper in the Crystal, Chassahowitzka, and Pithlachascotee (Cotee) Rivers. Acoustic tags (which ping a unique ID recorded onto a receiver) were surgically implanted in each fish and an array of acoustic receivers was deployed within each river. This work will document how fish use the rivers year-round and specifically how much area fish use to congregate around springheads during cold snaps.

Each fish has an external tag (yellow or orange) by their dorsal fin. If you catch a tagged snook or snapper and plan to release it, please leave the external tag in place and report the tag #, date, location, and total length to our Tag Return Hotline at 1-800-367-4461 or

If you catch and keep a tagged fish, please retrieve the acoustic tag from the body cavity and call 1-800-367-4461 with the same information. A biologist will arrange to collect the acoustic tag which can be implanted in another fish.

For more information on the Crystal River project, check out this great article by the Citrus County Chronicle.