Aquaculture scientists at Florida Atlantic University's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute (HBOI) are embarking on a $3 million grant-funded project designed to help Florida's multi-billion dollar sportfishing industry. The research, funded by a grant from the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust (BTT) in partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, is the first of its kind and involves the design and testing of an experimental research project to grow bonefish for stock enhancement.
"FAU Harbor Branch is uniquely well-equipped to take on this project," said Megan Davis, Ph.D., HBOI interim executive director. "Our extensive infrastructure that is already in place coupled with years of experience in working the life cycle of a variety of fish is what helped us win the grant. We are excited to take on this groundbreaking work."
Bonefish populations have been declining in recent years, with estimates showing a decrease of as much as 90 percent in some areas, including the Florida Keys. BTT uses a science-based approach to learn about and identify threats to bonefish, tarpon and permit fisheries in the U.S. and Caribbean basin and applies a combination of research, stewardship, education and advocacy efforts to address areas of concern.
"This unique project will provide an important tool in our efforts to restore the Florida Keys bonefish fishery, and we are confident the excellent team at Harbor Branch will help us achieve the project goals," said Jim McDuffie, BTT executive director. "Learning to spawn and raise bonefish in a captive setting has significant implications for the Keys fishery and fishery conservation efforts in general."
Florida's recreational and commercial fishing industries and associated businesses account for billions of dollars that drive the economic engine for the state each year and contribute to hundreds of thousands of jobs.
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About Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute:
Founded in 1971, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University is a research community of marine scientists, engineers, educators and other professionals focused on Ocean Science for a Better World. The institute drives innovation in ocean engineering, at-sea operations, drug discovery and biotechnology from the oceans, coastal ecology and conservation, marine mammal research and conservation, aquaculture, ocean observing systems and marine education. For more information, visit http://www.
About Florida Atlantic University:
Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University, with an annual economic impact of $6.3 billion, serves more than 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students at sites throughout its six-county service region in southeast Florida. FAU's world-class teaching and research faculty serves students through 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of Education, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. FAU is ranked as a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University is placing special focus on the rapid development of critical areas that form the basis of its strategic plan: Healthy aging, biotech, coastal and marine issues, neuroscience, regenerative medicine, informatics, lifespan and the environment. These areas provide opportunities for faculty and students to build upon FAU's existing strengths in research and scholarship. For more information, visit http://www.
About Bonefish & Tarpon Trust:
Bonefish & Tarpon Trust (BTT) was established in 1998 by a group of guides and anglers concerned about declines in the bonefish fishery in the Florida Keys. Since then, the organization has grown to include anglers, guides, scientists and companies from around the world working to conserve and enhance bonefish, tarpon and permit fisheries and their habitats through stewardship, scientific research, education and advocacy. BTT uses a science-based approach to address challenging and evolving concerns around these important flats fisheries. For more information, visit http://www.