2006 Florida Pompano Stock Assessment

This article provides a stock assessment for pompano, Trachinotus carolinus, in Florida waters through 2005

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Executive Summary

This assessment uses information on the fisheries catch and effort for Florida pompano, changes in relative abundance, and growth and reproduction to assess the condition of its populations found along the Atlantic and gulf coasts of Florida. Data used in this assessment were complete through 2005, though sector-specific landings and effort are given through 2006.

Historical landings data show that the commercial fishery was well-developed in the early 20th century with landings exceeding 750,000 pounds statewide in 1902. Atlantic coast landings peaked in the 1960's at 590,000 pounds and have averaged only 112,000 pounds during 2001-2005. Gulf coast commercial landings showed two decades of rapid increase before peaking at more than 1.2 million pounds in 1974. Landings during 2001-2005 averaged only 193,000 pounds. Commercial landings on both coast showed short-lived increases during 1997 and 1998 with the development of a fishery in Federal waters.

Recreational landings estimates were generally more imprecise and lower during the earliest years of available data (1981-1996) than afterward. Atlantic coast landings peaked at 714,000 pounds (374,000 fish) during 2003 and gulf coast landings peaked at 462,000 pounds (266,000 fish) during 2001.

The assessment of the status of Florida pompano was investigated using a variety of techniques. Of these, the stock reduction analysis and non-equilibrium stock production model were deemed most reliable. The former is a new exploratory analysis that helps put more recent landings in perspective with, sometimes larger, historic landings. The stock production model has been applied to Florida pompano since the 2001 FWC-FWRI assessment and uses catch and effort data to infer the population's productivity and abundance. Both techniques allow for estimation of maximum sustainable yield.

On both coasts of Florida, fishing mortality rates for Florida pompano showed a declining trend from the mid 1980's until 1996, then a sharp increase in 1997, reaching a peak in 2000. This was followed by fluctuations then an increase between 2002 and 2005 on the Atlantic coast and by a decline through 2004 on the gulf coast.

Estimated abundance or biomass of Florida pompano on the Atlantic coast showed an increase during the mid 1990's before fluctuating without trend through 2005. Gulf coast estimates of vulnerable biomass were much steadier since the later 1980's. Recent trends since 2003 reflect the changes in fishing mortality with a decrease in biomass on the Atlantic coast and an increase on the gulf coast.

The average 2005 Florida pompano population biomass estimates for the Atlantic and gulf coasts generally exceeded the estimated minimum stock size threshold so it is unlikely they are currently overfished. The certainty of this status determination is less on the Atlantic coast where one estimate of vulnerable biomass in 2005 is slightly lower than the threshold. There, the stock reduction analysis suggested that fishing is too high contrary to the surplus production model which showed fishing rates below the overfishing threshold. The highly uncertain but low estimate of static spawning potential ratio for the Atlantic coast in 2005 (25%) seemingly supports an overfishing status designation there. On the gulf coast, it is clearer that overfishing was not occurring for Florida pompano in 2005.



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