Saturday, November 27, 2010

Managing the Silver King

Bonefish and Tarpon Unlimited has posted a petition calling for a multi-State management plan for tarpon. Here’s the case for better regulations for these fish:

Through a satellite tagging program run by Dr. Jerry Ault and the Rosenstiel School from the University of Miami, scientists confirmed that tarpon are highly migrational, with some swimming as far as 4,500 miles throughout their range from Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, and up the Atlantic coast to the Carolinas. “Everything in the Southeast is connected,” said Dr. Ault. Right now each State manages tarpon separately, as if they aren’t.

Recreational angling for tarpon brings big money into the region. Economic estimates show that poon fishing pumps 5-7 billion dollars annually to the Southeast. The more fish, and specifically big fish, there are to chase, the more people will spend trying to catch them. From a pure economic standpoint, protecting tarpon is a sound investment.

“Tarpon are extremely sensitive to even light explotation,” said Dr. Ault. Tarpon are slow growing and thus slow to reach reproductive maturity. If one area in the tarpon’s range has excellent sustainability regulations in place but another doesn’t, both places are affected. As an example, Dr. Ault cited a kill tournament that posted 73 tarpon totalling 10,000 pounds over three days.