Co-Production for Fishery Conservation

Full Title: Knowledge co-production for place-based recreational fishery conservation in Charlotte Harbor, Florida

The project team will identify challenges to sustaining sport fish nursery habitats, map out realistic management strategies, and plan research that informs management choices.

Lead Investigator: Corey Anderson, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Corey.Anderson@MyFWC.com

Natural Resource Manager: Shaun Cullinan, J.D., Charlotte County Government

Project Team: David Blewett, Kali Spurgin, and Philip Stevens, Ph.D. (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) and Nicole Iadevaia (Coastal and Heartland National Estuary Partnership)

Federal Program Officer/Point of Contact: Frank Parker (frank.parker@noaa.gov)

Award Amount: $114,058

Award Period: This project began in September 2021 and will end in August 2022.

Why it matters: Coastal ponds embedded along the upland margin of the Cape Haze Peninsula are vulnerable to imminent human development. Place-based habitat conservation through local decision-making processes is necessary to ensure persistence and sustainability of the community’s ecologically and economically valuable natural resources. Decisions on how to preserve and restore recreational fish nursery habitat within the Cape Haze Peninsula in Charlotte County, Florida, will be made by 2028 through 1) revision of the county’s comprehensive planning policy, and 2) guidance for state programs that address hydrologic connectivity. An early conservation decision is critical to prevent coastal ponds from being filled during development of rapidly growing neighborhoods or cut off from natural drainage patterns that sustain them.

What the team is doing: The project team will convene state, local, and regional stakeholders to identify challenges to sport fish nursery habitat persistence, outline realistic management strategies, and plan research that informs management choices. Four meetings coordinated alongside the Coastal & Heartland National Estuary Partnership will identify emergent threats and the research needed to understand potential impacts. 

Expected outcome: Co-produced science will be used to inform future land conservation decisions that are reflected in state programs of land acquisition, restoration, and monitoring by 2024 and local government land use policy by 2028.