One Millionth Redfish Release with Governor Bush

The Stock Enhancement Research Facility celebrates its "One Millionth Redfish" with Governer Bush!


On October 4th, 2001, FMRI's Stock Enhancement Research Facility and Governor Jeb Bush released the millionth hatchery-raised redfish into Tampa Bay.

Governor releasing the first of ten readfish

The Governor, donning white boots, released the first of ten redfish that would symbolize the "One Millionth Redfish" raised for Project Tampa Bay. This fish and nine others were released into the Alafia River from Williams Park in Riverview, Florida. Following the initial release of the ten "Governor's Fish," there was a bucket brigade to the river's edge of biologists, journalists, and anyone else who wanted to help release an additional 200 redfish.

Governor holding gyotaku redfish print.

Each one of "Jeb's Reds," as some called them, were fitted with special, visible internal anchor tags that read "Governor's Fish" and a number, "01" through "10." The first five anglers that catch one of the Governor's fish will be rewarded with a limited-edition gyotaku redfish print donated by local artist Alisa Utamating.

Project Tampa Bay is a unique stock-enhancement program designed to demonstrate the strategy for cost-effective, marine, stock enhancement in the state of Florida. It is one of the most scientifically complete efforts of its kind in the world. Redfish are one of Florida's most popular nearshore game fish and an economic asset as well. A recent study estimated that saltwater fishing brought 4.4 billion dollars in annual revenue to the state in 2001.

The redfish are raised to different stages of life at the Florida Marine Research Institute's hatchery in Port Manatee, Florida,and then released. The goal of the experiment is to increase the redfish population in Tampa Bay by 25% so more fish are available for recreational anglers.

The Governor attended the redfish-release ceremony with FWC Commissioner David Meehan, other legistrative members, and community leaders. The Governor applauded the efforts of the Florida Marine Research Institute and the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) of Florida for their part in realizing the importance of conservation in our state.

What to do if you catch one of "Jeb's Reds"
All ten of "Jeb's Reds" are specially fitted with visible, internal anchor tags. The tags are the diameter of a strand of spaghetti and are held in place by a piece of stainless-steel wire. Printed on the tag are the words "Governor's Fish" followed by a number ("01" through "10"); the opposite side of the tag reads "1-800-367-4461," which is the telephone number for the Tag Return Hotline.

Anglers who catch one of the specially tagged fish are asked to assist with this important project by reporting their catch and returning the tag to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. For these ten fish only, the tag should be cut off as close to the fish's body as possible. The fish can then be released alive. Anglers who cooperate will be rewarded for their effort and will be providing valuable information on the success of Project Tampa Bay.

UPDATE: Governor's Fish No. 1 caught
The first of ten redfish released by Governor Bush for Project Tampa Bay was caught at Williams Park by local angler Edward Bohling. "Governor's Fish 01" was a foot-long when released, a foot-long when caught, and was in the wild for 30 days.

Kerry Mesner awards Edward with the first of five limited-edition gyotaku redfish

FWC Biologist Kerry Mesner awards Edward with the first of five limited-edition gyotaku redfish prints generously donated by local artist Alisa Utamating. Thanks to Alisa and to the CCA of Florida, prizes will be awarded to anglers who catch any of the ten Governor's Fish.





Prior to July 1, 2004, the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute was known as the Florida Marine Research Institute.

FWC Facts:
Slow-growing stony corals have been declining throughout the Florida Keys, altering the living reef structure that began forming 6,000 years ago.

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