BTT to Pioneer Rearing Bonefish for Keys Release

March 17, 2016 By: Erin Block

The Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, in collaboration with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, is embarking on a research project to pioneer rearing bonefish in captivity to help restore the Florida Keys fishery.

Read more in the press release below.

Bonefish & Tarpon Trust Announces Bonefish Restoration Research Project

Coral Gables, FL (March 16, 2016)- The Bonefish & Tarpon Trust (BTT), in collaboration with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and Florida Atlantic University’s (FAU) Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute (HBOI), is seeking to pioneer the methods of spawning and rearing bonefish in captivity as a means of restoring the valuable recreational fishery in the Florida Keys and adding an important tool to the conservation and restoration toolbox for fisheries worldwide. Bonefish are integral to Florida’s travel and tourism industry. It is estimated that bonefish, tarpon and other species in the ‘flats fishery’ contribute more than $465 million to the economy in the Florida Keys.

The Bonefish & Tarpon Trust is initiating this innovative $3 million research project with a $1.5 million grant from NFWF. To receive this support, BTT must raise a required 1:1 match from other sources. The money will be used to equip laboratories at HBOI as well as cover the expenses of a five-year research program to be conducted by FAU faculty and students.

Bonefish populations have been in decline in recent years, with some estimates that the decrease is as much as 90 percent in some areas in the Florida Keys. BTT uses a science-based approach to learn about and identify threats to bonefish, tarpon and permit fisheries in the U.S. and Caribbean basin and applies a combination of research, stewardship, education and advocacy efforts to address areas of concern.

“This unique project will provide an important tool in our efforts to restore the Florida Keys bonefish fishery, and we are confident the excellent team at Harbor Branch will help us achieve the project goals,” said BTT Executive Director Jim McDuffie. “Learning to spawn and raise bonefish in a captive setting has significant implications for the Keys fishery and fishery conservation efforts in general.”

Concurrent with this five-year project, BTT’s multi-pronged efforts to understand the root causes of the Keys fishery decline are ongoing.

About Bonefish & Tarpon Trust:
Bonefish & Tarpon Trust (BTT) was established in 1998 by a group of guides and anglers concerned about declines in the bonefish fishery in the Florida Keys. Since then, the organization has grown to include anglers, guides, scientists and companies from around the world working to conserve and enhance bonefish, tarpon and permit fisheries and their habitats through stewardship, scientific research, education and advocacy. BTT uses a science-based approach to address challenging and evolving concerns around these important flats fisheries. For more information, visit www.btt.org

About Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute:
Founded in 1971, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University is a research community of marine scientists, engineers, educators and other professionals focused on Ocean Science for a Better World. The institute drives innovation in ocean engineering, at-sea operations, drug discovery and biotechnology from the oceans, coastal ecology and conservation, marine mammal research and conservation, aquaculture, ocean observing systems and marine education. For more information, visit

If you are interested in attending a photo-op and brief tour with BTT board members and staff at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute on March 17th at 10 am, please contact Carin Smith at 772-359-6145.

Media Contact:
Alex Woodsum
617-872-4807, [email protected]