Mapping of stakeholder activities and habitats to inform conservation planning for a national marine sanctuary
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The Florida Keys is recognized as the birth place of flats fishing, but the flats fishery has historically been underappreciated by resource managers because it is a catch and release fishery. However, the fishery is increasingly threatened by habitat degradation and user conflicts. Ongoing regulatory revisions in the Florida Keys prompted us to work with flats fishing guides to document spatial fishing coverage and habitats so that this information could be included in management revisions. We used a geostatistical approach to create contour maps depicting fishing coverage and habitats, and provided this information to resource managers. This participatory GIS approach engages stakeholders in the management process, uses their knowledge of the resource, and contributes to resource and fisheries conservation. This study, in combination with research on the economic impact of the flats fishery, presents the flats fishery as an important conservation tool for the region and underscores the implication of relationships between researchers and data providers in the saltwater recreational fishery.
KeywordsCatch and release GIS Stakeholder Recreational fishing Management
This project was funded in part through grants provided by The Nature Conservancy, Florida KeysKeeper, and Bonefish & Tarpon Trust. We are most grateful to the local fishing guides for placing considerable trust in our methods and this work would not have been possible without their knowledge and input. Capt. Duane Baker and Capt. John O’Hearn were instrumental in organizing meetings with their respective fishing guides associations. We thank the Florida Wildlife Research Institute for providing integral GIS benthic data layers to the project. Printed maps used during the interview process were donated by Teall’s Guides of Keys Charts, Inc.
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