The concentrated fishing activity at piers results in a variety of threats to federally protected marine species in the form of incidental captures and entanglement in and ingestion of fishing gear. Biological opinions issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in accordance with Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) state conservation measures which must be implemented in the construction of fishing piers. The databases used in the biological opinions to estimate the effects of fishing piers on protected species are highly dependent on public reporting and their comprehensiveness is unknown. Furthermore, there is currently a lack of follow up on the usage and effectiveness of conservation measures. The objectives of this study were to (1) conduct an overall characterization of the fishing piers in Charlotte and Lee counties, (2) provide preliminary results of the effectiveness of informational signs at educating pier anglers and encouraging reporting of sea turtle and sawfish incidental captures, (3) map and evaluate the extent of pier fishery related interactions with protected species as reported by interviewed pier anglers compared to those reported to the STSSN and ISED, and (4) investigate pier angler acceptance of additional potential sources of information. All piers within the study area were visited twice, one a weekday and a weekend. During the first visit the overall assessment was performed and during each visit, one hour was spent conducting interviews with anglers. The pier assessments showed fishing piers in the study area varied and, overall, sawfish signs (19.2%), sea turtle signs (3.9%), mono filament recycling bins (46.2%) and pier attendants (3.9%) are lacking. Angler interviews indicated few anglers were aware of reporting incidental captures of sea turtles (7.5%) and sawfish (11.8%). Signs were both the highest reported current source (47.6%) and preferred source (54.5%) of protected species information. Therefore, increasing and revising the content and placement of signage at fishing piers combined with awareness raising efforts such as distributing floating keychains, stickers and koozies are likely to translate into increased reporting rates of sea turtle and sawfish encounters. Additionally, the use of traditional media, social media and smartphone applications has the potential to increase pier angler knowledge and encourage reporting of protected species encounters.
Hill, Ahsley, "Fishing piers and protected species: an assessment of the presence and effectiveness of conservation measures in Charlotte and Lee County, Florida." (2013). Internship Reports (Restricted). 188.
For UM Patrons Only