Defense Date

4-8-2016

Document Type

Capstone

Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology

Second Degree Name

M.S. Coastal Zone Management

First Advisor

Kenneth Banks

Second Advisor

Manoj Shivlani

Abstract

By using first-hand accounts, interviews, and photographs from fishermen throughout the region (Martin, Palm Beach and Broward counties), this paper will provide evidence of changes in recreational fish catches. It will also identify a shift in commonly caught fish species, factors that affect the head boat business, environmental changes and suggestions for management. Head boat fishing is a favorable activity for tourists and regular anglers in the state as well as the region. Upon returning from their day trip, companies often provide photo opportunities to display the day’s catch, as part of the fishing experience. Companies that have been around for generations have unknowingly created an archive of a “good day’s catch” which documents the ecological changes that have occurred below the water. This photographic evidence, combined with the results of a survey designed to obtain a firsthand perspective on the changes in past and present trips, illustrates what fishing was like several decades ago, what changes have occurred, where fishing is occurring, and, more importantly, what should be done to protect and restore the local environment. The local reef fisheries are important to the operation of the for-hire industry in southeast Florida however, limited historical data exist for the both the reefs and drift boats in Southeast Florida. By documenting the history of head boat fishing and the various changes and pressures that have occurred, an assessment can be made to identify a shifting baseline for the region. From this, inferences can also be made as to what kind of management and protection the reefs need in order to promote increased productivity and return reef fish populations to a healthier state