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Longboat Key Tuesday, Sep. 11, 2018 1 year ago

Mote and Florida conservations groups partner to restore snook population

Coastal Conservation Association Florida, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Mote Marine Laboratory are partnering on a two-year initiative to stock 10,000 juvenile snook.
by: Katie Johns Community Editor

This year’s snook spawning season was interrupted by the red tide bloom.

So, to address the loss of the snook population, Coastal Conservation Association Florida is partnering with Mote Marine Laboratory and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.

“The continuing impacts of red tide in southwest Florida are evident to all of us who call these communities our home,” said Michael Crosby, President & CEO of Mote Marine Laboratory. “One of the potentially most devastating and highly visible impacts around Charlotte Harbor was to the spawning snook population. Many of the dead snook were laden with eggs to produce the next generation…”

Crosby’s statement continued to say that Gov. Rick Scott and the FWC provided Mote with resources to conduct a snook population assessment but that more needs to be done ensure the recovery of the species.

This initiative will stock 10,000 juvenile snook into specific, tidal-creek “nurseries.”Here, a volunteer holds a snook during a sampling survey in August in Boca Grande. Photo courtesy of Conor Goulding / Mote Marine Laboratory

Through the two-year initiative 10,000 hatchery-reared juvenile snook will be raised and released along the southwest coast of Florida. It will launch in April 2019 following the red tide bloom and when the waters have been determined as safe, a statement from Mote said.

Mote’s role in the initiative, with support and partnership from CCA Florida and FWC, will be to locate and restock juvenile snook to specific, tidal-creek “nurseries.” These areas would normally be supplied by spawning groups that were affected by the red tide bloom. Every hatchery-reared snook will be electronically tagged so Mote scientists can monitor the progress of the snook throughout the study, the statement said.

Experimental work done by Mote shows that the number of juvenile snook can almost double in underutilized nursery habitats through stocking 10-month olds. Furthermore, continuous Mote studies indicate that tagged juvenile snook find some sort of refuge from red tide in tidal creek and marshy environments with fresher water, which is less conducive to Karenia brevis, Mote’s statement said.

The fundraising for the program, which is a cost of more than $440,000, will included community outreach through an Adopt-A-Snook program and the formation of private non-profit partnerships, Mote’s statement said.

In addition to this initiative, the organizations involved are encouraging anglers to release their catch of snook and other inshore populations.

I’m Katie. I’m the Longboat Observer community editor, which means I cover all people, places and things pertaining to Longboat Key. I graduated from the University of Missouri in 2016 with degrees in journalism and Spanish. Reach me at 941-366-3468 ext. 364.

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