FCE LTER Journal Articles


Combining data sources to elucidate spatial patterns in recreational catch and effort: fisheries-dependent data and local ecological knowledge applied to the South Florida bonefish fishery


Spatial data are key to fishery management; however, most often the spatial distribution of marine populations and fishing dynamics are poorly documented, especially for recreational fish species. The combination of fisheries-dependent data (FDD) obtained from logbooks, and local ecological knowledge (LEK) gathered from key stakeholders could be a powerful approach to inform data gaps in data-limited fisheries. In this study, we used both FDD from guides’ catch reports and LEK using an online survey and key-informant interviews to reconstruct the spatial changes in bonefish (Albula vulpes) catch and fishing effort throughout South Florida over the past 35–40 years, and better understand the extent and spatial patterns of the bonefish decline described in previous studies. Although anglers perceived a decline of bonefish numbers across all fishing areas (26 to 53% drop across Biscayne Bay, the Florida Keys, and Florida Bay), the start of the bonefish decline in Florida Bay resulted in the highest drop in bonefish number (53%); thus, indicating both regional and localized decline events affecting bonefish abundance. Within Florida Bay, LEK and FDD concurred with an initial drop in bonefish at Inner Bay, followed by a greater magnitude of decline at Outer Bay. Metrics of effort derived from the survey and interviews depicted a shrinkage and aggregation in the spatial distribution of fishing and a shift of fishing activities toward the Lower Keys. In sum, the spatiotemporal patterns of catch and effort obtained from LEK and FDD allowed us to understand where, when and how this data-limited species declined in South Florida.


This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation through the Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research program under Cooperative Agreements #DEB-1832229, #DEB-1237517, #DBI-0620409, and #DEB-9910514. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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