Florida Sea Grant Extension in Collier County

Welcome to the Collier County Sea Grant Extension Blog

This blog is an opportunity for me to share with you my extension outreach efforts and useful information to make you a more informed coastal citizen. If you have any questions about what you see, feel free to contact me at fluech@ufl.edu.

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Do You Know the Status of Red Tide in Your Area?

Recently there have been  reports of red tide events occuring near and offshore of Lee and Collier Counties. In Florida, a "red tide" generally refers to a bloom or rapid increase in the concentration of Karenia brevis cells, which is a marine algae species (specifically a dinoflagellate) commonly found in the Gulf of Mexico. K. brevis cells release a toxin that, in high concentrations, can be harmful to many types of marine life, and often result in  fish kills.
While red tide events naturally occur in the region, it is important for residents and visitors to stay informed about the status of theses episodes as they can have negative impacts on human health, local fisheries, and the coastal economy in general.
Fortunately, the FWC-Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute publishes a "Red Tide Current Status" page that provides a summary report of current red tide conditions around Florida. The site also includes a map of sampling results and regional status reports. You can sign up for weekly email updates via FWC's listserv by visiting: http://myfwc.com/research/about/information/subscription/ and following the directions. Reports are generally updated on Friday afternoon (except during holiday, in which case the report will be released on the closest day), and additional information, if available, is provided on Wednesday afternoons.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Marine Scene Plus!

I'm pleased to announce a new resource for those of you who are interested in keeping up with marine events in Southwest Florida-The Marine Scene Plus. This new blog is a joint effort between Sea Grant Extension Agents, Libby Carnahan, John Stevely, Betty Staugler, Joy Hazell, and myself Bryan Fluech, The Blog is full of current marine-related events, program announcements, and interesting articles to make you a more informed coastal citizen. Besides following the blog, you can also elect to sign up for the Marine Scene eNewsletter that is published six times a year. Enjoy!

All entries are archived and searchable,
which makes it easier for your to find
 what you are looking for!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Red Grouper Bag Limit Increased; Gag Closure Lengthened

First the good news. Since November 2nd 2011, Gulf of Mexico fishermen targeting red grouper in federal waters are able to bring home more of these highly sought-after reef fish. In November NOAA Fisheries Service announced a final rule that increased the Gulf of Mexico red grouper bag limit from two to four fish in the four-fish grouper aggregate bag limit. According to the latest stock assessments red grouper are neither overfished or experiencing overfishing.  In recent years, the recreational sector has not caught its allocation of red grouper, and the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, the agency responsible for establishing management plans in federal waters, voted back in August to relax its recreational red grouper regulations. The increase in bag limit will allow the recreational sector the opportunity to harvest its allocation of red grouper, which was increased from 1.36 million pounds to 1.65 million pounds for 2011.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission also adopted similar measures for red grouper at their November meeting to be consistent with the federal rules. For Gulf of Mexico state waters (excluding Monroe County), the increase in bag limit  will take effect Dec. 23, 2011.

Keep in mind, however, that if the recreational sector does exceed their new catch limit in a given year, required accountability measures would go into place that would decrease the red grouper bag limit from four fish to three fish for the following fishing season. If the annual catch limit is exceeded again the following year, the bag limit would drop to the current bag limit, which is two fish. Fortunately, managers do not anticipate the recreational sector exceeding these limits unless its fishing effort drastically increases.
On the other hand, gag grouper is still considered overfished and undergoing overfishing, which by law, means managers must take action to rebuild its stocks to healthy levels and end overfishing. As part of a 10-year gag rebuilding plan managers are proposing to adjust the recreational and commercial sector's annual catch limits for gag grouper and set the Gulf of Mexico recreational gag fishing season from July 1through October 31 each year starting in 2012.

The 123-day season was chosen to allow for the longest possible season without exceeding annual catch targets and meet the gag grouper rebuilding plan. The rebuilding plan also has accountability measures in place that would shorten the length of this fishing season if catch limits are exceeded. The recreational bag limit of two gag grouper within the grouper aggregate and the minimum size limit of 22 inches total length would remain the same. To learn more about gag grouper management measures visit: http://myfwc.com/media/1603482/FB11-094_Temporary-GagGrouper-Rule.pdf

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Congrats to our Newest Florida Master Naturalist Graduates

Today my colleague Joy Hazell and I held our final class of our Florida Master Naturalist Program (FMNP)-Conservation Science Module, and I'm proud to say we now have 14 new graduates to the program! I want to congratulate the class for their accomplishment. They were a great group and I enjoyed getting to know them.
This course is designed to educate people in the concepts, language, and science related to conservation needs, planning, and action. Concepts addressed during the course included species diversity, measuring biodiversity, the processes that generate and maintain biodiversity, types of ecosystem services, ecological processes, habitat fragmentation, effects of human activities on ecosystems, the history of conservation in North America, and strategies for conservation planning.

We were fortunate to have Dr. Marty Main, the FMNP creator and coordinator to be our guest lecturer today. He gave a great presentation on Conservation Strategies for Sustainable Ecosystems.. He also came along with us on our field trip to Pepper Ranch Preserve, which is an absolutely beautiful property managed by Collier County's Conservation Collier Program. Christal Segura, who is an Environmental Specialist with the program gave us a great tour of the property. It was a beautiful day, and an excellent way to finish the class.
Again, congratulations to our new graduates!!! Enjoy the pictures.

A 2-minute presentation on the biodiversity of lichens found on a single branch
An awesome explanation of how habitat fragmentation can negatively affect genetic diversity

FMNP students participate in a role play activity where they serve as an advisory committee who must come to consensus about the acquisition of conservation lands in a fictitious county.

Guest lecturer Dr. Marty Main, and his characteristic machete.
Christal Segura, Environmental Specialist with Conservation Collier provides the class with an overview of the Pepper Ranch Preserve.

One of many wetlands found at Pepper Ranch Preserve

Pastureland at Pepper Ranch

Christal talking to the group about cattle production at Pepper Ranch

Christal shows the group an area where invasive Brazilian Pepper plants were removed from a hardwood hammock habitat.

An oil rig at Pepper Ranch

One of many deer seen today!
The homestead that once belonged to the Pepper family.

Nothing like ice cream to celebrate completing the Florida Master Naturalist Program!

Enjoying ice cream a Tierra Caliente Paleteria in Immokalee, FL

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Recording: Florida's Oyster Industry Webinar

Did you know that Apalachicola Bay produced 90% of Florida's oysters and 10% of the nation's supply? Want to know more?
Today my colleagues and I held the final session of our Florida Seafood Safety and Sustainability Brown Bag Webinar Series, and the topic of course was Florida's oyster industry. The goals of the presentation were to:
1) Increase participants' knowledge of basic oyster biology/ecology,
2) enhance participants' understanding of how Florida oysters are harvested, managed, and processed,
3) Make participants more informed consumer about the product safety measures for oysters.

To download the recording of the webinar click here.
(You might get a message that blocks you from downloading the webinar; you will need to click on "allow" to let your computer download the presentation)

If you have never used Elluminate, please click here  and scroll down to the "Eluminate Live" section to make sure you computer is compatible with the webinar software.

We want to know what you think! To help us improve future webinars, we would greatly appreciate your input by completing a short online evaluation about the presentation. https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/N9Z6225

Recordings of Past Webinars If you would like to watch a recording of past webinar sessions in our Florida Seafood Sustainability and Safety Brown Bag Webinar Series click HERE.

Monday, November 7, 2011

NOAA Announces Increase in Gulf Red Grouper Allocation

Beginning November 2nd, 2011 fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico can  take home more of one of the region's most popular species-Red Grouper.  Taken from a NOAA Southeastern Fishery Bulletin
NOAA Fisheries Service announces a final rule that increases the red grouper bag limit from two to four fish in the four-fish grouper aggregate bag limit. The rule also increases the commercial quota of red grouper. Because red grouper is a part of the shallow-water grouper complex, this also requires an increase in the shallow-water grouper quota. The final rule will be effective November 2, 2011.

Recreational bag limit The rule increases the red grouper bag limit from two to four fish in the four-fish grouper aggregate bag limit. This will allow the recreational sector the opportunity to harvest its allocation which was increased from 1.36 mp to 1.65 mp for 2011.

Commercial red grouper quota The rule increases the 2011 red grouper quota from the existing 4.32 million pounds (mp) to 5.23 mp. The rule also sets the red grouper quotas for 2012-2015, which incrementally increase from 5.37 mp in 2012 to 5.72 mp in 2015. Finally, the rule adjusts the 2011-2015 shallow-water grouper quotas to reflect the increases in the red grouper quota. For fishermen holding red grouper individual fishing quota (IFQ) shares, additional allocation for 2011 will be posted to their accounts by the close of business on November 2, 2011. Note the increase in the shallow-water grouper quota only reflects the increase in the red grouper quota and will not result in any additional gag or other shallow-water grouper allocation.
 Reminder to red grouper IFQ shareholders
Additional red grouper allocation will be issued to your shareholder account, not your vessel account. To harvest your additional 2011 red grouper allocation, you must transfer allocation from your shareholder account to your vessel account prior to your landing notification. Directions for transferring allocation to your vessel account can be found in the IFQ Trouble Shooting Guide which can be found at https://ifq.sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/ifqgt/main.html#.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

La Nina is here again!

Did you know Florida's coastal environments are greatly influenced by weather events occuring on the other side of the world?
 I thought you'd be interested in this bulletin that just came out from the Southeast Climate Consortium.

The El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon is the biggest player in the game of year-to-year climate variability. El Niño and La Niña events tend to develop during April-June and tend to reach maximum strength during December-February. Typically they persist for 9 to 12 months. La Niña conditions take place when surface water temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean along the equator turns colder than normal. La Niña can be thought as the opposite of El Niño conditions, in which the same area of the Pacific is warmer than normal.
La Niña affects weather patterns in many areas of the world. In the case of the Southeast U.S.A. it usually brings a drier and warmer winter and spring (November through March). For Florida, central and lower Alabama, and central and southern Georgia rainfall may be 40 to 60 percent lower than normal and temperatures 3 to 4 degrees warmer than normal.
figure 1
La Niña events may last more than one year, in fact, they do tend to last longer on average than El Niño events. Examples of events that lasted longer than one year include the La Niñas of 1954-56 (extreme drought in the southeastern U.S.), 1973-75, and 1999-2001.This year is the second year of a la Niña pattern that started back in July of 2010 and returned after a brief period of neutral conditions during the summer. Figure 1 shows average rainfall anomalies (Nov-Jan) observed during the 2nd year of La Niñas events in the past. Although La Niña events are never the same, it indicates that drier than normal conditions are generally observed in most of the southern U.S.A.The current drought outlook for October 2011 through January of 2012 published by the NOAA Climate Prediction Center (CPC) confirms this trend signaling for drier conditions in most of the same areas (Figure 2).

While drier conditions might prove more beneficial for certain agriculture crops,  it can also lead to increased wildfires or elevated stress levels in certain estuarine organisms due to less freshwater reaching the coast than normal.
Figure 2