OOS 50-9 - The role of habitat quality and availability in population abundance and fisheries sustainability of Florida Gulf Coast snook (Centropomus undecimalis)  

Friday, August 12, 2011: 10:50 AM
14, Austin Convention Center
Juliane Struve, School of Forest Resources, Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL

Habitat conservation and restoration are increasingly viewed as key components of coastal fisheries management, alongside fishing regulations. However, impacts of habitat restoration on fish population abundance and fisheries sustainability remain difficult to quantify within conventional fisheries assessment models. We incorporate spatial structure, habitat-dependent life history parameters and age-dependent dispersion into a population dynamics model for snook (Centropomus undecimalis) on the South-West coast of Florida. Structural relationships and parameters are estimated from fisheries-independent surveys, mark recapture and biotelemetry data. We use the model to investigate the efficacy of alternative combinations of fishing regulations and habitat restoration options.  


Our results suggest that localized restoration of key juvenile habitat could be effective at increasing regional spawner abundance. A better understanding of juvenile habitat-dependent abundance and dispersion would noticeably improve our understanding of the role of habitat restoration in the conservation and management of fish populations. The assessment of habitat restoration contributions to fisheries sustainability is hindered by difficulties of interpreting fisheries management reference points when habitat and therefore, population carrying capacity is modified.

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