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Southeast Florida Fisheries-Independent Monitoring Program Meetings

The southeast Florida coral reefs currently do not have a spatially and temporally explicit fisheries-independent monitoring program. This management need was originally identified by local stakeholders in 2004 during the development of the SEFCRI LAS, then again by stakeholders, managers, and scientists in 2008 as a strategy identified during the Florida Reef Resilience Program (FRRP) Workshop, and most recently, by managers and scientists in 2009 at the NOAA Atlantic/Caribbean Coral Reef Ecosystem Integrated Observing System (CREIOS) Workshop and the Florida's Strategic Management Priorities Workshop.

This need was confirmed in 2008 as contractors from University of Miami began gathering fishery dependent and independent data for SEFCRI LAS Fishing Diving and Other Uses (FDOU) Project 18 & 20A: Fisheries Resource Status and Management Alternatives for the Southeast Florida Region. The contractors found several "snapshot" fisheries-independent data sets in two of the four counties within the four-county region, which mainly focus on artificial reef fish populations, and were only collected for 1-2 years. Project results indicate that spatially and temporally explicit fisheries independent assessment on southeast Florida coral reefs is lacking, existing "snapshot" data cannot be utilized to determine southeast Florida coral reef fishery status and trends, and the development of a fisheries-independent assessment program for the region was recommended.

On January 31, 2012, NOAA hosted a workshop on Integration & Coordination Of Efforts To Monitor Reef Fish Populations On The Florida Reef Tract. This kick-off meeting brought together scientists and managers from the Florida Keys region and the southeast Florida region to coordinate a fisheries-independent monitoring effort along the entire Florida Reef Tract. Fisheries-independent monitoring is a fish monitoring program using standardized sampling methods to examine the population of fishes as a whole (e.g., every fish you see when you're SCUBA diving); in contrast, a fishery-dependent monitoring program uses data from and provides information on, only the exploited segment of a population (e.g., only the fish you catch using hook and line or a net).

DEP-CRCP has been building partnerships and obtaining funding to implement fisheries-independent monitoring, a priority information gap in the southeast Florida region, and was recently awarded funds to begin data collection in the region. The sampling design is currently underway, and the first in-water baseline assessment will begin this summer. The data collected in southeast Florida will be based on the Reef Visual Census (RVC) method, so that southeast Florida fish data will be comparable to the decade's worth of data from the National Parks and Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. This will be the first time the fish population of the Florida Reef Tract will be looked at holistically.

Diver and grouper

A diver conducting a Reef Visual Census.
University of Miami

Much like the collaborative approach taken in the Keys, RVC in southeast Florida will be conducted by local partners, including Nova Southeastern University, with assistance from regional agencies, based on their capacity, including NOAA Fisheries, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Miami-Dade County, Broward County, Palm Beach County and Martin County. DEP-CRCP has been building partnerships and obtaining funding to institute a fisheries-independent baseline assessment, which will occur summer 2012. It is the goal of DEP-CRCP to obtain a recurring funding source or sources to create a long-term (annual sample) fishery-independent monitoring program for the southeast Florida region.

January 31, 2012


April 13, 2012


Last updated: May 10, 2013

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