Publication Date

2017-07-31

Availability

Open access

Embargo Period

2017-07-31

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Marine Affairs and Policy (Marine)

Date of Defense

2017-06-21

First Committee Member

David Die

Second Committee Member

Elizabeth Babcock

Third Committee Member

Christopher Parmeter

Abstract

Pulley Ridge, located in the Gulf of Mexico on the West Florida Shelf, contains a rare and ecologically valuable mesophotic coral reef ecosystem that provides essential fish habitat for many commercially and recreationally important fish species. The area is currently protected by a Habitat Area of Particular Concern (HAPC), a marine protected area established in 2005 that covers part of the Pulley Ridge area and mandates several fishing gear restrictions. The HAPC prohibits the most environmentally destructive gear types; however, these protections are somewhat limited because they do not encompass the entire Pulley Ridge area, and because they do not impose any no-take areas for commercial fisheries or protect from any non-fishing activities. In addition to the HAPC, commercial fishing catch throughout the Gulf of Mexico (including the Pulley Ridge area) is managed using an Individual Fishing Quota program which was implemented in 2010. The objective of this Master of Science (M.S.) thesis is to assess changes in fishing effort for the commercial reef fish fishery in the Pulley Ridge area, before and after the implementation of the HAPC and the Gulf of Mexico catch share programs. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries Logbook Data are used to test hypotheses regarding commercial fishing effort for reef fish in the areas that include Pulley Ridge and the HAPC. It is necessary to assess the status of economically and ecologically important fishery species and fishing effort distributions in the Pulley Ridge area. Furthering scientific understanding in this area will help to inform management actions in order to increase the efficacy of marine resource management strategies for Pulley Ridge and the West Florida Shelf region.

Keywords

fisheries; fisheries management; catch shares; mesophotic reefs; marine protected areas; reef fish

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