Lessons from a long-term fisheries monitoring program: The Florida experience
July 2021 - June 2026
- FWC, USGS
Fisheries managers need consistent, reliable information on fish populations across space and time to make informed management decisions. However, developing and sustaining long-term monitoring programs is inherently challenging for fisheries management agencies amid limitations in time, money, and personnel. This dichotomy—the value of fisheries monitoring on the one hand, the difficulty of monitoring on the other—makes it critical for fisheries agencies to formally evaluate their monitoring programs to maximize data reliability and program efficiency. In 2006, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) implemented a long-term monitoring (LTM) program to track trends in freshwater fish population distribution and community structure in 29 water bodies throughout Florida. Although the LTM program is designed to document changes in fish communities and thereby inform fisheries management amid anthropogenic stressors (e.g., land-use change, non-native species), the LTM program has yet to be comprehensively evaluated. The purpose of this project is to thoroughly evaluate the LTM program—including ecological insights, sampling design and statistical rigor, fisheries management implications, and program delivery—in collaboration with the FWC.