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5th annual Keys bonefish population census results announced
Date:2/25/2008

VIRGINIA KEY, FL. Results are in from last years fifth annual Bonefish Population Census in the Florida Keys and the bonefish population has remained fairly steady from 2006, however, the number of volunteers participating in the annual event continues to grow. According to Jerry Ault, Ph.D., University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science Professor of Marine Biology and Fisheries, thats exactly the type of fish stock numbers and community involvement hed like to see.

As long as the numbers arent drastically different from year to year, it means that our methods for measuring the bonefish population are working, and that the resource appears to be sustainable, said Ault. This years study showed a slight decrease in the numbers of bonefish caught and released during the survey, as well as in the relative density of the bonefish population in the Keys, but this change is relatively stable.

Seventy-two teams joined the effort this year, spread out across 19 zones in four regions (Biscayne, Upper, Middle, and Lower Keys) from Key Biscayne to the Marquesas. Team participation was significantly enhanced by Gary Ellis and guides who fished in the Mercury Cheeca Redbone Tournament out of Islamorada, Fla. During the survey held in late October 2007, bonefish sightings were recorded and reported directly to Aults team at the Rosenstiel School. The 2006 census indicated a fishable population over 382,000, while this years findings point to a very slight decrease in that number estimated at 364,000 bonefish throughout the Florida Keys. The bonefish being calculated are those large enough (i.e. > 14 inches) to be targeted on the flats for catch and release sport fishing.

"What has been exciting about this year's census is that we've had more guides and fisherman involved than ever before," Ault said. "It's becoming even clearer to fishing guides, enthusiasts and environmentalists alike that understanding more about the b
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Contact: Barbra Gonzalez
barbgo@rsmas.miami.edu
305-421-4704
University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science
Source:Eurekalert  

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