Egress of Adult Sport Fish from an Estuarine Reserve within Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Florida
A tag-recapture study was conducted within Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge in the waters surrounding Kennedy Space Center, Florida (where public access has been restricted since 1962), to document egress of adult sport fish from an estuarine reserve. A total of 3,358 sport fish were tagged within the restricted areas. The species tagged were red drum Sciaenops ocellatus (n = 1,366), spotted seatrout Cynoscion nebulosus (n = 927), black drum Pogonias cromis (n = 760), and common snook Centropomis undecimalis (n = 305). Results showed that adult sport fish moved from the restricted areas within Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge to surrounding areas open to fishing. The recapture rates, based on angler responses outside of the restricted areas, were 3.1%, 0.8%, 2.9%, and 16.1% for red drum, spotted seatrout, black drum, and common snook, respectively. In general, red drum, spotted seatrout, and black drum were recaptured in waters adjacent to the restricted areas. Common snook, however, migrated from the restricted areas south to inlets. Tag recaptures for red drum, spotted seatrout, and black drum, together with a previous study that found greater abundance and size of sport fish in the restricted areas than in adjacent areas open to fishing, substantiate the fish replenishment zone function of the restricted areas. The restricted areas within Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge protect fish populations and large adult sport fish egress to surrounding waters open to fishing.
Stevens, P. W. and K. J. Sulak.
Egress of Adult Sport Fish from an Estuarine Reserve within Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Florida.
Gulf of Mexico Science
Retrieved from https://aquila.usm.edu/goms/vol19/iss2/1