Bonefish and Tarpon Trust (BTT) is asking you to speak up and protect essential permit spawning habitat. Western Dry Rocks is a small shoal off of Key West, Florida, that sees high concentrations of permit during the spawn, according to tagging data. BTT is advocating for a seasonal closure of a 1.3 square mile area in Western Dry Rocks to preserve this essential spawning habitat, improve spawning efficiency, and, ultimately, see more and bigger permit in the Keys. I think we can all get behind this!
BTT found that permit will migrate over 50 miles to spawn at Western Dry Rocks. Additionally, however, BTT found that a high percentage–up to 39 percent–of hooked permit at Western Dry Rocks were being lost to sharks. A seasonal closure would let these delicate, yet resilient fish spawn unobstructed and greatly decrease predation rates, both of which being a huge benefit for the long-term preservation and availability of permit. Data-driven, common-sense closures like this one, are essential for the management of our fish, and we commend BTT for their work to protect this great fish. To protect Western Dry Rocks and protect permit, follow this link and scroll down to the Saltwater Rulemaking Comments section, and in the topic menu select “Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary,” then submit your comment.
For more, check out this page on BTT’s website: Protect Permit!
Again, to comment, follow this link then select “Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary” and submit your comment!
Here are some excerpts from BTT’s comments:
BTT Florida Keys Initiative Manager Dr. Ross Boucek: “Learning from past experience, we know that a closure at Western Dry Rocks will work. We know that the closure of Riley’s Hump in the Dry Tortugas resulted in bigger fish and more fish in the surrounding area. Letting fish spawn by protecting spawning aggregations from fishing in the Caribbean and in the Northeast U.S. lead to the same outcome. A seasonal closure will protect fish when they are spawning, while allowing fishing when spawning fish aren’t there. This is a fair balance between marine use and conservation. We thank you for your time, and the serious consideration you are giving to such an important area.”
Captain Diego Rouylle: ” It is my wholehearted belief after spending over a quarter century passionately learning about this one species that STRATEGIC CLOSURES will need to become a significant tool for a productive future in the fishery management of our. Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. I am respectfully asking our Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to strongly consider implementing the closure of 1.3 square miles during the permit spawning season at Western Dry Rocks.”
BTT Director of Science and Conservation Dr. Aaron Adams:”For so many species, FWC is doing the maximum possible using a traditional fisheries management approach. This approach is proving to be less and less effective because it doesn’t incorporate habitat. The proposed regulations for Western Dry Rocks should be viewed as a component of an improved version of fisheries management with habitat as a core component. We therefore encourage the Commission to support the many aspects of the Restoration Blueprint that focus on protecting and restoring habitat integrity as a means to ensure a healthy ecosystem and healthy fisheries. This includes providing protections to spawning sites that are essential to economically important species like permit.”